Volunteers sought to build fish structures

United States Army Corp of Engineers staff and volunteers prepared to place porcupine brush cribs into Raystown Lake during fish structure building days in 2016.

Volunteers are sought to aid in constructing and placing aquatic habitat structures during the 27th annual fish structure building days from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, April 28, and Monday, April 29, at Snyder’s Run Boat Launch at Raystown Lake in Juniata Township.

The effort is sponsored by the Friends of Raystown Lake and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“We’re encouraging volunteers from all sorts of groups, including civic groups and bass clubs, to come out and participate,” said USACE Raystown Lake park ranger Alicia Palmer. “This year, we’ll also have residents of the Trough Creek Youth Forestry Camp and the Workforce Community Program from the state Department of Corrections helping Monday.”

The fish structure building effort presents an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to give of their time to improve the fisheries within Raystown Lake. Vehicle access, parking and light refreshments will be provided.

“Raystown Lake is a manmade lake,” Palmer said. “So, aquatic habitat projects like these serve to imitate the natural setting and helps to increase the population.”

The effort will be two-pronged, with construction taking place on the lake shore and deployment of the structures being made by boat.

“A bunch of volunteers are needed to help with the set up of the Porcupine Junior Cribs and the short vertical planks,” she said. “We build them on the spot, then load them on the barge and deploy the dwellings off of wooden skids, anchored by cinder blocks.”

The Porcupine Crib Jr. is the shallow-water version of a structure known as the Porcupine Crib and is designed to mimic habitat provided by native stumps when submerged. These structures provide woody cover for pre- and post-spawning for adult panfish and black bass, as well as protective shelter for smaller juveniles escaping possible predation.

“The typical ones that we are installing are mostly for bass,” said Palmer. “They are a wooden pyramid shape with the interior left open for small fish. They’re designed for around 15-18 feet of water.”

Installing the structures can help to stimulate growth within aquatic ecosystems.

“We abide by the guidelines set out by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,” she said. “They help us with the fish structure habitat program.”

For more information, contact Palmer at Alicia.E.Palmer@usace.army.mil or call 658-6812.

“Anyone who wants to help is welcome to just show up either day. It’s good to know an approximate idea of the number of people coming, but anyone who wants to come is welcome,” Palmer said. “We’ll be placing nearly 50 artificial structures, so we have a lot to build.”

April can be reached at afeagley@huntingdondailynews.com.

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