Colyer Lake, created in 1966 by damming Sinking Creek, gave Centre County residents more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors on the water and in the woods. The 77-acre impoundment in Potter Township has become a centerpiece for fishing, boating, hiking, and observing wildlife.
Owned and managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), it is stocked with yellow perch, black crappie, catfish, large-mouth bass, and chair pickerel. The lake has two boat-launch ramps and a fishing pier that can accommodate people with disabilities.
Problems with the dam surfaced during an annual check in 2002. Tests showed that the emergency spillway had serious leaks and damaged concrete. Soil under the spillway was shifting, which could have led to disintegration of parts of the spillway.
At the time, funding for the estimated $6 million repair was not available. Sinking Creek flows east downstream from Colyer Lake and meets Penns Creek in the town of Spring Mills. The PFBC said that if the dam failed, it could endanger the more than 250 residents of Spring Mills, could damage up to 80 homes, and might inundate Spring Mills Elementary School.
As a precaution until a funding source could be found, the lake’s water was drawn down over several years. In 2014, the lake was drained completely.
Residents of Potter Township and the surrounding areas, concerned that the lake might be lost permanently as a recreation site, created an organization called “Save Colyer Lake.” To improve safety and accessibility without costing money, the volunteer group began building a new hiking trail and upgrading old pathways around the lake.
Final funding for the dam repairs was obtained through the combined efforts of the PFBC and “Save Colyer Lake,” as well as the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation and local businesses. Work began in 2014 on rebuilding the dam breast, liming the bottom of the lake, and adding new fish habitat structures.
Completed in 2015, the refurbishing projects allowed for the refilling of the lake and a reopening in June 2016. The lake once again was fully available to outdoor enthusiasts.
Nale, Mark. “Colyer Lake comes back to life.” Centre Daily Times, June 11, 2016.
Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission. https://www.fishandboat.com/Resource/Lakes/Pages/ColyerLake.aspx (Accessed May 18, 2021).
First Published: June 11, 2021
Last Modified: January 27, 2024