84 Lakes closed for ongoing investigation

July 23, 2014
The gate to 84 Lakes has been locked and a “no fishing” sign posted since the end of June. - Francesca Sacco / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

84 Lakes, a popular spot for area fishermen located in Somerset Township, has been closed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission while they complete an ongoing investigation.

Eric Levy, the press secretary for the commission, confirmed the lakes were closed at the end of June. However, Levy declined to comment on the reason behind the closure.

“I can confirm that 84 Pay Lakes was closed by the Fish and Boat Commission at the end of June and that the commission is investigating alleged violations by the company,” Levy said in an email. “Because this is an active investigation, these are the only details I can provide at this time.”

According to posts on the business’ Facebook page, the lakes were closed because Asian carp were found among the other fish stocked there. Asian carp are fast-growing, aggressive fish that hail from Southeast Asia, according the National Wildlife Federation. Asian carp have been a cause for concern, especially in the Great Lakes, as the fish compete with native species for food and habitat. They can grow to well over 100 pounds, and once they become established in an ecosystem, they are nearly impossible to eradicate, NWF said.

The species was imported to the United States in the 1970s to filter pond water in fish farms in Arkansas, and later escaped during flooding, the NWF said. Asian carp began to produce populations in the wild in the 1980s, and the species has continued to flourish.

The Fish and Boat Commission declined to provided a time frame for the investigation or a possible reopening date. The main gate to the facility is locked and a duct-taped cardboard sign alerts fishermen that they cannot fish.

The owner of the business and the neighboring 84 Lounge did not return calls for comment.

Joe and Bonnie Lawrence, who live across the street from the lakes, said they saw Fish and Boat Commission officials on the property.

“They had boats in the water,” Bonnie Lawrence said. “We were told they were shocking the water so that the fish would float to the top and they could get the (Asian carp) out.”

The Lawrences said they’ve inquired about the closure but were not given any details.

“No one will answer any questions,” Joe Lawrence said.

Nonetheless, the couple are enjoying the peace and quiet that has accompanied the closure.

“Normally, the Fourth of July is crazy, but it was peaceful,” Bonnie Lawrence said.

“And we like the quiet,” Joe Lawrence added.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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