ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY, PA (WTAJ) — The small lake at Lakemont Park has been a well-known site throughout Blair County for decades. Recently it’s taken on a new look and a new aroma which has upset some people in the area.
While no one can go behind the gate, you can still smell the stench of decaying fish and that’s what people are worried about. Some say there are hundreds. Because it’s a private lake, the Fish And Boat Commission says the owner is responsible.
Mark Conrad grew up visiting the lake at Lakemart Park and is frustrated to see it like this. He says “I see them dying, you look over the spillway, you can smell the putrid smell of rotting flesh in there. The fish are running out of time. The rain is going to help, but they’re running out of time.”
Folks have been coming by to take a look at the lake, draining by the week. They’re wondering why the fish in it weren’t taken out ahead of time, and why no one can get in to save them. Rush Steahley from Altoona says “you see dead fish over there and fish stranded down in the rocks.” Another concerned citizen says “they got this water level down here to one foot. Basically, the fish here are going to suffocate.” Many say they’ve seen various fish and even turtles, some up to 25 years of age.
A spokesman for the Fish & Boat Commission says the lake is owned by Blair County and that the county’s conservation district is working on draining it as part of routine maintenance. They say the county isn’t breaking any laws. Fish & Boat Commission Communications Director, Mike Parker says “the options for removing fish would be to compost them, which could be occurring naturally or to take them to a dead hole. It would essentially be a hole that the dead fish would be placed into that hole would be covered up.”
The Fish & Boat Commission does not allow fish from privately owned properties to be transferred into public waters. Many in the area are just hoping these fish can be saved before the water runs too low.