Outdoor Sports Person of the Year awarded for clean up efforts at Kaercher Creek
Tim Mazaika, Tilden Township, mowed creek banks to clear paths for fishing spots
Tilden Township resident Tim Mazaika hauled his mower to the banks of Kaercher Creek four years ago with a simple motive: clearing fishing spots at the popular location east of Hamburg.
For his continued work clearing banks and pathways, along with efforts to recruit volunteers to do the same, Mazaika was named the 2018 Berks County Outdoor Sports Person of the Year. The award was given during the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Berks County Dinner held April 14 at the Virginville Grange.
“I’m just a guy out there cutting grass. It was quite an honor to be recognized,” said Mazaika who lives about four miles from Kaercher Creek.
Mazaika estimates working 500 volunteer hours, generally in three to four hour stretches, over the past four years. Others have joined the effort, including during a spring clean-up day in Hamburg, held over Earth Day weekend in April, and Make a Difference Day in the fall.
“I’m out front on this, but it’s not just an award for me. It’s for all the people who have come out and helped, all the people who have donated, it’s for them, too. They are all part of it,” he said.
Born and raised in Hamburg, Mazaika has fished at Kaercher Creek his whole life.
“When the county gave up the lease in 2014, the grasses took over and the place really went wild,” he recalled. “You could get in, but it was very difficult to get to the shore line to fish because the grass was so high. You had to worry about picking up ticks or stepping on snakes or in holes. It really wasn’t safe.”
The entire property is owned by the Fish and Game Commission, but the commission only maintains the launch area side. When Berks County gave up their park lease, that side was no longer maintained.
So Mazaika decided to do something. He took his personal push mower over to the site that first year and cleared a spot on the bank. He didn’t have a weed wacker, so he used simple tools like rakes and scythes to tackle high grasses.
“It was a selfish start,” he admitted to the banquet audience, “but I couldn’t access my favorite fishing bank and I saw others in the same situation.”
Mazaika kept going back, widening the clearing up and down the shore line. He began clearing pathways to make them accessible.
“I had a buddy who came out with his chainsaw. We got a permit from the state to do it and we spent many evenings cutting this tree into manageable pieces to clear out.”
All volunteers sign a waiver to be allowed to work on the commissionowned property. Mazaika hopes the commission will allow him to open a gate which closes off access to the property. This, he said, will make it much easier to haul in mowers and other equipment. Until then, he must haul each piece down a steep bank.
His volunteer work has coincided with his fulltime task of caring for his mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a decade ago. His mother died in 2017. Mazaika dedicated the Sports Person of the Year Award to his mother at the banquet. He noted she was an active and lifelong volunteer. He also highlighted the work of fellow volunteer, Nan Harrigle, who lives near Kutztown.
The Berks County Outdoor Sports Person of the Year is given jointly by the Federated Sportsmen’s Club and the WEEU AM 830’s A Great Day Outdoors Show. Hosts Roger Mallon and Bob Entler were in attendance and gave Mazaika the certificate.
“This is the story of how one man created a movement,” Entler said. “He saw something that needed doing, started doing it and people started seeing him do it.”
Mazaika will continue his efforts to keep the parkside of Kaercher Creek usable for anglers on the bank and those wishing to walk the paths.
For more information or to volunteer, visit www. facebook.com/FriendsofKaercherCreek.
Volunteers joined Friends of Kaercher Creek, led by Tim Mazaika of Tilden Township, for a Make A Difference Day clean up event in October 2017 to cut grass, clear paths and clean up trash at Kaercher Creek in Hamburg. A spring clean up was also held...
Tim Mazaika, Tilden Township, was named 2018 Berks County Outdoor Sports Person of the Year by the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Berks County and WEEU’s A Great Day Outdoors during an April 14 dinner at Virginville Grange. He was recognized for...