During its formal quarterly business meeting held virtually on July 20, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Board of Commissioners voted to adopt a new Strategic Plan to guide the agency over the next three years.

Since the spring of 2019, PFBC executive staff, members of the Board of Commissioners, and members of the Boating Advisory Board have been collaborating on a new strategic plan through multiple facilitated work sessions. The process resulted in a strategic plan consisting of a new vision statement, guiding principles, values, and six high-level priorities with corresponding goals to help the Commission better fulfill its mission.

“The Strategic Plan is very ambitious because it fully recognizes the broad diversity of the Commonwealth’s citizen’s, natural resources, and recreational fishing and boating opportunities,” said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director. “This plan, which includes a high level of details and deadlines associated with each goal, ensures that we are continuously held accountable as we serve millions of anglers and boaters and aquatic resources across Pennsylvania.”

The Strategic Plan is designed to be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound with goals that can be translated into work plans to guide major efforts through July 30, 2023. The Strategic Plan can be reviewed on the PFBC website.

In other action, the Board elected new officers. Richard Lewis of Gettysburg, Adams County, was appointed as President. Richard Kauffman of Leesport, Berks County, was elected as Vice President

Lewis said, “As we move through the next year, I’m looking forward to seeing the Bureau of Boating established and staffed, to implementing our new strategic plan goals and projects, to sustaining the increased interest and participation in fishing and boating across Pennsylvania, and to resurveying our diverse angler population to determine their needs and wants.”

Related to trout fishing, the Commission reminds anglers to take summer weather conditions into consideration when enjoying local waterways. In many cases during very hot and dry conditions, trout will seek out the closest source of cold water to provide thermal relief. This often results in many trout congregating at the mouths of cool-water tributaries or spring seeps. The Commission asks anglers to consider that while crowded and thermally stressed trout in a pool of water may look like an easy target, these fish are typically in poor condition and difficult to catch. Anglers should avoid fishing for trout during these conditions, as it can have lasting impacts on the population.

The Board adopted a resolution commending the efforts of PFBC staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution also commended PFBC staff for completing annual spring stocking operations within hundreds of Pennsylvania waterways without the assistance of community volunteers due to ongoing public health concerns.

In his report to the Board, Executive Director Schaeffer also stressed the importance of boating safety education. He indicated that seven boating related fatalities have already occurred during 2020, and none of the victims were wearing life jackets.

Schaeffer mentioned that sales of PFBC launch permits for unpowered boats such as kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, have increased by approximately 50 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With more new boaters on the water this season, Schaeffer urged the public to become familiar with basis boating safety steps, including wearing a life jacket, having a float plan, never drinking under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and monitoring weather conditions to avoid storms and high-water conditions.

The next meeting of the PFBC Board of Commissioners is set for Oct. 19-20, in at PFBC Headquarters located at 1601 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg. If an in-person meeting is not possible due to continued public health concerns, information regarding a virtual meeting will be announced later.

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