Bernhart's Dam Update 05/03/22
On Monday, April 25th, The City of Reading and its Public Works Department started to draw down the Bernhart Dam on Muhlenberg at one foot per day.
We have been working in collaboration with Red Creek Wildlife to oversee the well-being of wildlife at Bernhart's since the early stages of the project.
According to Red Creek, all swans are currently flighted and are protected migratory birds. They will be allowed to move off on their own. They are wild migratory birds protected by Federal Law. We cannot touch them. Red Creek is available if any amphibian, fur, or fowl need immediate assistance, but only if injured.
The Game Commission has recently taken the position the Mute Swan is an invasive species; we were previously under a protected status which was the last information conveyed by Red Creek Wildlife. They are still protected in some States. Therefore, the Swans are ultimately not eligible for relocation in Pennsylvania.
The city is proceeding in accordance with the PA Fish and Boat Commission's permit instructions. We are allowing the wildlife to manage itself. This is considered by the city's fisheries biologists and other professionals as the best practice. It is the same procedure that the Isaac Walton League used when they drained Egelman's reservoir every year to harvest the bass for stocking. This project is following the same procedure as hundreds of other reservoir drawdowns used across the state.
The drainage will happen by removing the center of the spillway down to the rock ledge upon which it was built - this is to ensure structural stability and allow the normal flow of the creek to run naturally through the dam without being impeded.
In addition, an emergency plan is prepared that includes smartphone notifications and automated phone calls to nearby residents in case of a breach and potential risk of flooding.
The administration has trained and provided our Citizen Service Center staff with frequently asked questions regarding the project and encourages any concerned individual to call 1-877-727-3234 and receive detailed information.
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