March 26, 2014

Colonel Bernard R. Lindstrom
US Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District
2200 William S. Moorhead Federal Building
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-4186

RE: Recreational Lockages on Upper Monongahela River

Dear Colonel Lindstrom:

The Monongalia County Commission hereby offers to contribute funds toward the part-time operation of the Upper Monongahela River Locks for recreational lock service. Currently the level of service (LOS) for the Opekiska & Hildebrand locks is level 6. They are open for commercial navigation by appointment only and are not providing recreational service. The Morgantown lock is currently operating at a LOS of level 3 that is one shift a day, 5 days a week. It also is not providing recreational service over the weekends.

The Commission will contribute funds in the amount of approximately $40,000.00 annually for recreational lock services for a general yearly April through October schedule for the foreseeable future. This will include select weekends, holiday weekends, several three day weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) in support of fishing tournaments, and occasionally full weekly operations in support of regional fishing tournaments. We have strong local partners in our region who fully support this request and offer, foremost the Marion County Commissioners, the Upper Monongahela River Association (UMRA) and its partners including the B.A.S.S. Nation of WV and the WV Bass Federation. As stated in our previous letter UMRA will work with you on developing the Memorandum of Understanding and will work with us so that it is in the best interests of the County and can pass our review and be voted in the affirmative. UMRA has worked with you for more than 12 years so we expect this will be a productive partnership.

The Monongalia County Commission understands that no repayment or credit for contributed funds is authorized by the Corps of Engineers, and the negotiated memorandum of agreement will provide that acceptance of such funds will not constitute or imply any commitment to budget or appropriate funds for the requested services in the future.
Commercial barge traffic on the Upper Monongahela River has declined significantly; however, it is anticipated that recreational boating from fishing tournaments, from other pleasure uses and special events will take their place over time. (We also anticipate future new commercial traffic will develop as new industry develops or traditional industries resume.) The pools created by dams on the upper Monongahela River are great places for recreational boating, skiing, swimming, and tubing. Moreover, the Monongahela River is home to nearly every species of fish found in Wet Virginia and the river is considered to be one of the premier fishing locations in the state. The inability of recreational users to navigate the Monongahela River upper reaches has economically harmed the county and our communities. The inability to traverse the locks has severely hampered scheduling local, state, regional and national fishing tournaments.

Thank you for your consideration of our proposal.

The Monongalia County Commission,

L. W. Bartolo
Eldon A. Callen
Tom Bloom