For the last 31 years, volunteers with the Kinzua Fish and Wildlife Association have partnered with the Allegheny National Forest and other government organizations to improve habitat in the forest and waterways.
Founded in 1983, the non-profit KFWA's motto is "Giving Back to the Environment," and the volunteers that comprise the organization do so through hours of work on a number of projects and paying dues that are used soley to fund the projects.
Bob Boyer, association secretary said that there are about 150 members, although only about 20 are actively involved with projects.
Volunteers maintain more than 6,000 fish habitat structures in the Kinzua Reservoir. Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers
"The Allegheny National Forest personnel and (volunteers from) Kinzua Fish and Wildlife Association work together to complete various projects... that are of benefit to the forest and the wildlife that live there," he said.
Some of the projects are planting trees to provide habitat and food for wildlife, pruning apple trees, assisting with the annual clean-up of the Allegheny Reservoir and River, building and maintaining over 6,000 fish habitat structures in the reservoir.
Additionally, they assist with fish population surveys conducted by biologists by repairing, setting and pulling gill nets and helping with the electroshocking of waterways. The electroshock surveys rarely kill the fish, and they are returned to the water afterward.
KFWA members also maintain 32 refuge wires on eight McKean County streams, where aquatic life is protected, and help the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stock streams and the reservoir.
"We have a yearly Fish Derby at Wildcat Park in Ludlow to benefit disadvantaged youths," he said.
Last May, between 80 and 90 children caught and released fish at the derby, although they were allowed to keep two fish each if they wished. Chaperones from Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems assisted during the derby.
He added that the association, ANF personnel, the PFBC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be meeting in the near future to formulate a long term plan to continue and improve the projects to provide lasting benefits for the region.
The KFWA list membership costs as $10 for individuals, and $25 for master, camp (three memberships) and business. Also, an individual membership with a map purchase is $25, and the map shows the locations and GPS coordinates of the fish structures, which are prime fishing spots.
"We do not have a clubhouse, do not pay salaries to anyone and spend all of our grant money and dues on projects directly related to our purpose," the newsletter reads.
The organization's address is KFWA, Box 454, Kane, Pa.16735.