(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), issued this statement following the public release of the PA Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) work plan to study the Susquehanna River. Portions of the study will focus on areas of the River or its tributaries where smallmouth bass reproduce.
"DEP's newly launched "Susquehanna River Study Updates" web page is a positive first step toward sharing science and data to educate the public and build awareness about the plight of the smallmouth bass population.
"CBF and American Rivers recently called on DEP to commit to a clearly defined public engagement process that provides updates on the study and the progress, and to publicly share their data and findings throughout the process. We are pleased that our request has been acted upon.
"While this news is encouraging, we will continue to call on DEP and their partners to seek the answers and take actions to resolve the issues in the Susquehanna. We continue to believe the impairment listing of the Lower Susquehanna River would galvanize state, federal, academic, and nonprofit efforts to study and solve the problem. Many scientific questions remain, but one thing that is certain is that an entire fishery may be in jeopardy and time is of the essence if we are to turn things around."
CBF joined the PA Fish & Boat Commission, and American Rivers and PennFuture in petitioning DEP to declare a 98-mile stretch of the Lower Susquehanna as an impaired water body. DEP has not supported listing the River as Impaired and has not included the Lower Susquehanna in its final Impaired Waters List, which was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January. This issue is now in the hands of EPA.