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Wolf Lake Dam is being removed in Chambersburg

January 13, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An excavator dug its steel teeth into the wall of the Wolf Lake Dam Thursday, breaching the 131-year-old impoundment and allowing the waters of the Conococheague Creek to cascade through.

The removal of the dam will take several days and is being done by Charles E. Brake Co. of St. Thomas, Pa., said Cathy Mentzer, a spokeswoman for Wilson College.

Though built by the Chambersburg in 1875 as part of its public water system, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said the dam and Wolf Lake are property of the college. Cheryl St. Pierre-Sleboda, the college's vice president of Finance and Administration, said the school has an agreement with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to be reimbursed for the cost of the dam removal.

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The college will be seeking grants to help with the restoration of the habitat along the creek, St. Pierre-Sleboda said. The area is in a flood plain, so nothing can be built along the stream banks, she said.

"The college's environmental science program will oversee, study and assist in the return of the natural vegetation along the formerly submerged stream banks," College President Lorna Duphiney-Edmundson wrote in a statement in August. Removing the dam will recreate wetlands, improve the fish habitat and attract wildlife, she wrote.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection "is intent on removing dams around the state," Oyer said Thursday. Last year, two borough-owned dams, Siloam Dam and Birch Run Dam, were breached as part of a state program "to return the Conococheague to its natural state," he said.

Birch Run Dam in Michaux State Forest had once been a major reservoir for the borough and Chambersburg paid about $1.5 million to have it removed, Oyer said. For the much smaller Siloam Dam in Greene Township, Oyer said the borough incurred some minimal planning costs with the state paying approximately $70,000 to remove the dam, he said.

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