Fairmount Township, Luzerne County -- Nothing beats a day at Lake Jean in Ricketts Glen State Park for the Hayden family. For two weeks each year every year, Mike and Kerrieann Hayden make the trip from their Harleysville, Montgomery County home and become one with nature. 10-year-old Rylee Hayden said Thursday while fishing that it's hard to narrow down her favorite activity. "I don't really know. I like the fact that I can just patiently catch fish." Her mom added, "We're huge kayakers so we like to kayak, we like to fish. Um, we just like the outdoors."
There will be a change of plans next year for this Philadelphia suburbs family. That's because the state ordered the replacement of a deteriorating dam control tower that stands at the shadows of the lake's 26 foot dam. To carry out the construction project, the entire lake must be emptied of its water. "Without the water here it kind of limits the activities for the kids and although we do love camping it's just... you need the water," said Mrs. Hayden.
The Bureau of State Parks says the reason for the complete drawdown of Lake Jean during the removal of the dam control tower is simple. It claims that even maintaining a small pool of water in a heavy rain could compromise the dam. Because of the planned drawdown, you are now allowed to catch as much fish as possible at Lake Jean before the state begins a fish salvage operation this fall.
The lake drawdown will have a ripple effect on businesses like a boat rental stand at the park. Lake Jean Concessions is also bracing for the impact. The staff plans to stock less items for the water loving crowd next year. "That will ease up some space and we can really cater to the campers and offer groceries," said Lake Jean Concessions worker Patty Record. People who love Lake Jean just hope the dam control tower replacement project goes smoothly. "We're hoping it will be done so that the following year we can come back but we'll see," said Mrs. Hayden.
The Bureau of State Parks expects the dam control tower replacement project at Lake Jean to take about a year. Officials stress it won't have any impact on the park's campground, cabins and hiking trails.