LEHIGHTON, PA --
Constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and open to the public since 1972, Beltzville Lake has become a popular recreational spot for swimmers, boaters, and picnickers throughout Carbon County and surrounding areas. One of the Corps’ priorities at this project is safeguarding water quality, and recent samples have shown the presence of hydrilla throughout the lake. Not native to this region, hydrilla is an aquatic invasive species in the form of a plant mass that often attaches to boaters’ anchors. In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other agencies, the Corps has been focused on containing the spread of hydrilla, thus introducing the Invasive Species Portable Washing Station.
The washing station contains a heating element along with a pressure washer that can be used by boaters at Pine Run Boat Launch and Preachers Camp Boat Launch, the two public access points within Beltzville State Park. The heating element kills the hydrilla, which can then be disposed of in specific collection boxes located throughout the park (see attached photo). Another benefit of this unit is easy upkeep, as DCNR park maintenance staff refills the portable tank each night so that it's ready for the next day. The station attaches to the back of a pickup truck, allowing for convenient transport between the two boat launches.
This undertaking was made possible through the USACE Handshake Partnership Program, which since 2004 has provided “seed money” to Corps facilities for partnership projects on federal lands. These projects are aimed at enhancing recreational opportunities or environmental stewardship while carrying out Corps missions. The Invasive Species Portable Washing Station represents a major step toward a long-term sustainable solution as Corps staff seek to stop these aquatic hitchhikers while raising public awareness on the topic.
Joshua Dinko, Facility Operations Specialist at the Northern Area Office at Beltzville, said that one of his favorite parts of his job is protecting project resources while educating the public. “The educational aspect is the biggest draw of the product,” stated Dinko. “The natural benefit is providing the next generation of recreational users with information on invasive species and how their practices can help preserve the water resource. Right now our immediate concern is ensuring Beltzville does not become a vehicle to spread hydrilla to other bodies of water within the region, including other USACE Philadelphia and Baltimore District dams in Pennsylvania.”
This project would not be possible without DCNR staff deploying the wash station on weekends and assigning an interpretive ranger to provide user assistance on operating the wash station. In addition, they provide reference materials on invasive species and other clean water initiatives. According to Ben Monk, Beltzville PADCNR Park Manager, “The wash station has seen an overall positive reception from the public, especially throughout the busy summer months.” Monk added, “our staff loves to man the washing station” – as they are able to educate visitors on the importance of safety and environmental stewardship. The washing station is gaining increased appreciation from boaters who understand the benefits of protecting the ecosystem while creating as safe a recreational experience as possible.
Release no. 23-026