ALLEGANY STATE PARK – Earlier this week John Darr reeled in a few 11-inch trout amid the peace and quiet at Red House Lake.
The tranquility won’t last long. Neither will some of the water.
An ambitious $6 million rehabilitation project at the aging Red House Dam – including demolishing and replacing a bridge on the north end of the Allegany State Park lake – will start after July 4, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation confirmed.
In order to complete the work, the water level at the lake – which covers 120 acres and is 22 feet deep in places – will be lowered by about 8 feet. That will expose about 52 acres of lake bed. Many of the fish – the brook trout, bluegill and panfish among other species – will be relocated to Quaker Lake, about 10 miles southwest of Red House.
Lowered lake levels will result in closures to swimming and watercraft. Park officials say other spots in the Red House area – like picnic shelters, athletic fields and trails – will not be affected.
Water levels will be allowed to gradually rise during shoreline and bridge construction.
“The lake is planned to be fully re-watered by spring 2018,” said Thomas Livak, the manager at Allegany State Park.
Darr, a grandfather from Kane, Pa., enjoys the lake from his restored vintage metal rowboat. Motorboats have not been allowed on the lake. But after the project, the lake could open to boats with electric motors of 5.5 horsepower or less for the first time pending a tweak to existing regulations.
“This lake is big enough,” Darr said. “If you catch a wind the right way, it would take me a half a day to get back to the shore.”
The project will last several months, and parks officials say to expect some noticeable disruptions.
When the project is finished, expected sometime in 2018, visitors will see:
• A fortified concrete spillway between the lake and Red House Brook.