The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District’s own Blue Marsh Lake has been named the top recreational area in USACE by Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick.
The Army Corps runs more than 400 recreation areas, which annually attract more visitors than the National Park system. Blue Marsh is by no means the largest among them, but it has just been recognized as the best.
In singling it out for the 2013 Natural Resources Management Project of the Year Award, Gen. Bostick took note of Blue Marsh's skill at attracting and marshaling the services of volunteers and working with other agencies to help the park weather trying economic times.
“Your use of volunteers, interaction with multiple civic, local, county, state and federal agencies, and your ability to optimize your resources by leveraging in-kind services was outstanding,” Gen. Bostick said in a message to District Commander Lt. Col. John C. Becking, announcing the award.
“Blue Marsh Lake is serving the Corps and our nation admirably through highly effective management even in this era of fiscal constraints,” the general wrote.
With more than 36 miles of trails and a thousand-acre lake that accommodates swimming and boating, Blue Marsh Lake is a recreational fixture in the Reading, Pa., area and draws visitors from Philadelphia and other more distant locations as well.
“This is an incredible honor for our folks working every day to make Blue Marsh an outstanding place for Americans to enjoy,” Lt. Col Becking said.
Typical of the Blue Marsh approach is its annual “Take Pride in Blue Marsh” Day, which in 2012 brought out 653 volunteers who did everything from picking up litter to building picnic tables to planting seedlings. All told, they contributed more than 3,000 man hours and, just as importantly, demonstrated the breadth and depth of support for the recreation area in the surrounding community.
The dam at Blue Marsh was authorized in 1974 and completed in 1979, creating a multi-purpose project designed for flood control and water supply as well as recreation.
John Cave, Natural Resource Manager for Blue Marsh, expressed the satisfaction he and his staff feel in receiving the award.
“It’s a pinnacle honor,” Cave said.
It’s all the more meaningful, he said, because it does not emanate from a single event or moment.
“It’s a reflection of what this staff does on a day-by-day basis,” Cave said.