SOMERSET – The release of funds for the $8 million dam reconstruction of a popular Somerset County fishing lake will continue to support the county as an outdoor recreation destination, leaders say.
The dam at High Point Lake near Mount Davis is among 10 dams managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission that are slated for restoration with $43.5 million announced Friday by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Funding includes $23.8 million from the state budget and $19.7 million in state Fish and Boat Commission funds. The multi-year project will repair 10 dams owned by the Fish and Boat Commission.
“The lakes formed by these dams not only offer recreational opportunities in communities, they provide tremendous economic benefits through tourism,” Wolf said. “Proactively replacing and upgrading hazardous dams is an important safety measure that will help ensure these tourist attractions remain available to Pennsylvanians and our visitors.”
Ron Aldom, executive director of Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, said High Point Lake is part of the region’s tourism infrastructure.
“That one is a fisherman’s paradise,” Aldom said. “It has great potential for tourism. It’s right by Mount Davis.”
All of the lakes receiving funds are important for Pennsylvania’s outdoor tourism industry, commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer said.
“We are extremely grateful to Gov. Wolf for recognizing the importance of preserving this vital infrastructure and the fishing and boating opportunities it provides,” Schaeffer said. “With the commitment of these funds, our agency can move forward with plans to ensure that these lakes continue to be focal points for local recreation and drivers of regional economies.”
The 338-acre High Point Lake will be the county’s second restoration of a Fish and Boat Commission dam. Lake Somerset was virtually drained last year in anticipation of a dam project that could do more than just restore a popular fishing area.
Community efforts are underway to establish a county park at the lake. It could include a pavilion and trail system connected to Uptown Somerset, local leaders say.
“It never was a tourist attraction in the past,” Aldom said. “We truly have the community involved and they want to take it to the next level.”
Somerset Lake Action Committee was formed as a subcommittee of Somerset County Conservancy and is made up of a coalition of community groups and businesses, Aldom said.
Wolf released almost $7 million for Lake Somerset dam work in 2016, with construction expected in 2018.
Under a revised timeline, the lake is expected to reopen in fall 2021, the commission website says.
Here’s a list of the lakes included in Friday’s announcement:
• Cloe Lake, Jefferson County
• Fords Lake, Lackawanna County
• Harris Pond, Luzerne County
• Hemlock Lake, Indiana County
• High Point Lake, Somerset County
• Hunters Lake, Sullivan County
• Kahle Lake, Venango County
• Rose Valley Lake, Lycoming County
• Stevens Lake, Wyoming County
• Virgin Run Lake, Fayette County