Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

FISHING SPOT GONE FISHING? ; as Rumors Swirl, Kanawha State Forest Pond's Future Uncertain

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

FISHING SPOT GONE FISHING? ; as Rumors Swirl, Kanawha State Forest Pond's Future Uncertain

Article excerpt

As equipment for a dredging project to remove a large accumulation of silt from Kanawha State Forest's fishing pond showed up along its shore last week, rumors have been making the rounds that state officials have either made plans to demolish the 76-year- old Civilian Conservation Corps-built dam containing the pond, or have actually begun to tear down the 10-foot-tall, 100-foot-long structure. Not so, said West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England.

"The equipment that's at the pond is for dredging, which was a permit requirement for the coal company that was mining up there near the forest," England said.

As part of its application to operate the Kanawha Development No. 2 surface mine, Keystone Industries agreed to dredge the pond once mining activity was completed.

The mine was located on 413 acres, part of which was fewer than 200 yards from the Kanawha State Forest boundary and adjacent to the headwaters of streams that flow through the park.

Four months ago, following a series of violation notices and temporary cessation orders brought on by stream pollution issues, many of them the result of monitoring by members of the Kanawha Forest Coalition, the state Department of Environmental Protection signed a consent order in which Keystone Industries agreed to halt all mining at KD No. 2 and limit its activity on the site to reclamation.

On Monday, a pump was moving water from behind the dam into Davis Creek below the structure, to bring the water level down until silt could be removed using excavating equipment.

England said the rumors of the dam's demolition could stem from the fact that "we are considering conducting a study for a possible stream improvement project for Davis Creek," the stream that flows into the pond and over its dam.

A possible recommendation from such a study could include the removal of the dam as an alternative to prevent sediment build-up and give fish access to food and cover, both above and below the dam.

"We went to the Kanawha State Forest Foundation several months ago to tell them we were considering the study, and that if we went through with it, it could mean a recommendation to remove the dam," England said.

Should the state park system end up supporting a stream improvement plan that includes removal of the dam, "it's a long way down the road before it would happen," he said. …

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