LOWVILLE — A new fishing access site has been developed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation with funds from the settlement with Marks Farms after a massive 2005 sewage spill that killed hundreds of thousands of fish in the Black River.

The new site is on a peninsula at the confluence of the Black River and the Deer River, a mile from state Route 26 in the hamlet of Deer River in the town of Denmark.

According to the DEC, gamefish found in this section of the Black River include smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike and chain pickerel.

“This newly constructed Black River at Deer River Fishing Access Site provides anglers with access to a 10-mile stretch of the Black River between Castorland and Carthage. Anglers will also have easy access to the Deer River,” DEC Region 6 Director Randall C. Young said in a news release.

The access site consists of an easy-in, easy-out driving loop, a handicap accessible boat launch on the Black River, a receptacle and directions to prevent the spread of invasive species and foot paths accessing the Deer River banks.

The packed gravel parking area has accessible spaces, those for vehicles pulling trailers and spaces ideal for car-top boat launches into the Black River, totaling 15 parking spaces of various sizes.

About 0.35 miles of the south bank of the Deer River and 0.66 miles of the north bank of the Black River can be accessed from the new site.

The $75,000 project is the latest compensation effort for fishing enthusiasts from the $390,963 set aside from the $2.2 million settlement, reached in 2006 by the dairy farm and the DEC for a Natural Resource Damages fund.

The settlement was the result of a failed manure lagoon on the farm that emptied 3 million gallons of liquid manure into a field and the Black River via drainage ditches in August 2005.

In the 24 miles of the river impacted, the resultant increase in ammonia and drop in oxygen levels in the water killed more than 375,000 fish.

According to the restoration and spending plan for the natural resources fund released in 2014, handicap accessibility upgrades are slated for fishing access sites in Castorland, Beaches Bridge, Watson, Blue Street, Glendale, Burdick’s Crossing and the Denley Dam in addition to the newly built site.

The first access site to be improved with Marks Farms settlement funds was on Whetstone Creek, according to a DEC spokesperson.

To date, a total of $114,000 of the fund has been invested along the Black River.

Station Road off Route 26 in the hamlet will take visitors to the new fishing access site. The road turns into a dirt right-of-way that meanders parallel to the Deer River after passing through some private fields.

The full restoration and spending plan for the Marks Farm Natural Resource Damages Settlement is posted to the DEC website, www.dec.ny.gov.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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