Above: A panorama I took at White Oak Pond on October 20, 2015.
My favorite place to paddle within 25 minutes of my front door is White Oak Pond in Waymart, PA. And now, due to the dam in the area being structurally unsound and having no budget to fix it, it is being drained.
Peggy Lee at local news outlet WNEP reports:
Repairing each dam will cost $6.6 million and the project is expected to end in December 2021, with the ponds being refilled.
Any time an area such as this is drained is a sad time. Obviously if the dam causes a legitimate threat to those living below it, the roads and bridges, etc. then there really is no choice but to drain the pond. The pond would need to be drained anyway to allow for repairs even if the money was readily available.
The thing that makes this tough for me personally — besides White Oak Pond being so picturesque, is that I’ve seen more wildlife in this pond than any other I’ve paddled over the last two years. White Oak Pond is teeming with life. I’ve seen snapping turtles that I couldn’t get my 6’ wingspan around. I’ve seen entire families of beavers… at least 3 families with 4 individuals. And the fish that I’ve seen get pulled from here are big and healthy.
Above: You can see the tops of land beginning to crest in the middle of the pond.
On Tuesday I was paddling the pond, which was already at least 4’ lower than normal, and I noticed how shallow this lake really was in most spots. There were hundreds of geese parked there overnight that night on their journey south — many of them finding it tough to land in only inches of water in some areas that are typically feet deep and that they’ve likely used in the past as a landing pad.
This is one of those times that you wish a few wealthy families that grew up in this area would be able to use their money in a philanthropic way to save this ecosystem but I do not see that happening. If I had $7M dollars to spare I’d be very tempted to try to help.