The Boyertown Area Times
Shoreline restored, fish habitat added, stone deflectors installed for erosion protection
The shoreline of Blue Marsh Lake has undergone a late winter and early spring makeover with more than 1,300 feet restored and stone deflectors added to protect it from watercraft wake and erosion.
“We had four major projects over this early springtime,” said Brianna Treichler, natural resource specialist and ranger at Blue Marsh. “We had one at the Day Use Area, which helped us restore 420 feet of shoreline, which we probably got a little bit more than that since we were able to stretch our material. What that did was it took a really high erosion area, where it was pretty much just a drop off, and we reclaimed a bunch of our shoreline with what is called stoneframed deflectors.”
She explained that large stones are used to create a triangle shape jutting out from the shore that is then filled in with smaller material.
“What that does is it helps break the wake action that is hitting the shoreline, so it stabilizes it to stop the erosion from happening,” Treichler said. “It also creates underwater habitat when the water comes up so smaller fish, micro and macroinvertebrates can house themselves within there.
“And it’s just a nicer access to the
shoreline for our visitors. Whether it’s them just coming out and wanting to sit closer to the lake, wanting to fish a bit differently off our bank areas. Also with the ones off the Day Use Area, off to the right side of our swim beach there, we repurposed some old lock stones that were originally taken from the area when the lake was constructed and they have been stored with the Berks County Park and Recreation Department.”
Cathy Wegener, director of the county parks and rec department, said the stones were stored at Gring’s Mill and have been used for a variety of projects over the years. Included was restoration work on Lock 47 of the Union Canal, which is the only intact lock remaining on the former canal route, Wegener said.
“They very nicely donated those back to us, and we repurposed those stones so now they’re steps into the waterway,” Treichler said. “People can utilize them to go in and out of the water instead of trying to climb on the rocks, and it’s more so for people mooring their boats offshore there.”
She added that five sets of stoneframed deflectors were installed. The Dry Brooks Boat Launch received a set, which helped restore 270 feet of shoreline.
Out from the deflectors, she said, an in-water habitat was added, including rubble humps and cleared brush from the banks.
“That provides a lot of nice underwater habitat that normally is not in that location, and that makes it nice for fishing and provides habitat for smaller bait fish, all of those micro and macroinvertebrates that help sustain the food chain upward to our bigger game fish that everybody likes to try and
catch — largemouth/smallmouth bass, tiger muskie, striped bass,” Treichler explained.
“We had a second project at the Dry Brooks Boat Launch,” she said. “We kind of double-dipped on that project, where the Game Commission did a bunch of invasive species removal for us on the hillside and took out a whole stand of Callery pear, which has now been deemed a noxious weed and is no longer able to be sold in Pennsylvania.
“We’re letting that area grow back, and then we’re going to do supplemental plantings of native species.”
At what she called the “old, old Church Road access,” 240 feet of shoreline were restored with invasive vegetation removal and leveling out of the area to make it more universally accessible all the way out to the point. There are plans to make it into a fishing and paddle access area. A kayak launch has already been improved, Treichler said.
“Our last project was at Sheidy Boat Ramp, that was 410 feet of restoration,” she said.
“There are stone-framed deflectors and also saw-tooth deflectors there,” Treichler said. “Saw-tooth deflectors are similar in construction to those stone-framed ones but are smaller in size, and they’re a little bit more irregularly shaped and that has to do with just the slope, the steepness of the slope, and how that would best work out with laying out the structures.
“Usually when we have really steep, heavy slopes that we are trying to make up, where there is a lot of erosion, we’ll use the saw-tooth deflectors because they are a little more forgiving.”
The total cost of the shoreline restoration project was around
$290,000, Treichler said.
“We got awarded a little more than the $134,000 in funding to go toward these projects and materials, then we have matched funding that is going in as well from the Fish and Boat Commission,” she said.
The $134,000 came from the Bass Pro Shops National Fish Habitat Partnership U.S. Open Grant Program, for which Blue Marsh, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Berks County Conservation District jointly applied.
Funding also came from the PFBC’s Cooperative Habitat Improvement Program, which aims to construct artificial fish habitat structures. On April 15 there was a volunteer workshop where porcupine cribs, pyramid-shaped wood structures, were built as part of that program. They will be placed in the water midsummer.
The courtesy docks were reinstalled at the boat launches throughout the lake April 13, despite the water level being a tad shy of the recommended 290 feet of elevation. On April 20 the lake elevation was 287.38 feet. The lack of rain has kept the water levels low.
The 6,200-acre recreation area, which includes parts of Bern, Lower Heidelberg, North Heidelberg and Penn townships, is owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.