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Frog Species Speeds Up Ice Lakes Dam Work

February 17, 2018 GMT

Workers will race to fix the Ice Lakes Dam in Rice Twp. before the breeding season begins for an endangered frog, officials said Thursday when announcing a $60,000 state grant to help pay for the project.

Rice Twp. Supervisor George Pipech said the state earlier provided $120,000 to repair the dam; but when bids for the job exceeded $160,000, the supervisors asked state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-119, Newport Twp., for extra financing.

“He’s been instrumental. He worked hard on it,” Pipech said.

The lakes are a township park where visitors fish, have picnics and paddle or row boats. Two years ago, when visitors noticed that the water level was dropping, another issue surfaced: The lakes lacked flood control measures that couldn’t be installed without threatening the endangered Northern cricket frog, which might live along the lakes.

No study has been done to prove that the frog is present, but surveys show the lakes’ habitat could support the frogs, which are about 1½ inches long or, as Pipech said, the size of a big cricket.

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To protect the frogs, if they are there, workers will install a coffer dam, which will retain enough of a pool to provide habitat for the frogs, Colleen Connolly, spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection in Wilkes-Barre, said.

The department’s review could take a few more weeks.

Workers will try to finish construction before the frogs awake from hibernation.

“So there should be no frogs moving around,” Mullery said.

Mullery said old plans for the dam, which dates back more than a century to when the lakes were created for harvesting ice, show a sluice in the wall. If workers find the sluice, they will install a gate and repair mortar. Then the gate could drain the lake to control flooding.

If the plans are wrong and no sluice exists or if workers cannot find it, workers will install a 24-inch pipe and connect a valve that will open and close for flood control, Mullery said.

Mullery said he hurried to obtain funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development and workers will strive to finish the job in early March to protect the frogs.

“We can’t get into their breeding season,” Pipech said.

Contact the writer:

kjackson@standardspeaker.com, 570-501-3587