Conservation officer wants safer, more accessible site by Lyndonville Dam

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Vernon Fonda, a conservation officer with the state Department of Conservation, stands near the edge of Johnson Creek just before the Lyndonville Dam. Fonda wants to improve the stability of the bank and accessibility of the site for fishermen. He envisions a floating dock near where he is standing, closer to the bridge over Route 63.

LYNDONVILLE – It’s one of the area’s most picturesque spots, and it also is a popular fishing hole.

The section in front of the Lyndonville Dam along Johnson Creek also is dangerous, with loose soil and a rocky embankment.

Vernon Fonda moved to Lyndonville about six months ago. He works as a conservation officer for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Fonda loves the Lyndonville community. He is president of the PTA, is joining the Lions Club and enjoys the area’s natural resources.

The spot by the dam needs to be stabilized to prevent further erosion, and he wants to make it easier for fishermen to use the site.

“Johnson Creek is world renowned,” Fonda said. “If we make the site safer it will increase tourism.”

He is trying to line up support in the community for the project. He said boulders, a floating dock, ramp with a railing, fencing, a kiosk to list fish that can be caught at the site, and other improvements are all under consideration.

Vernon Fonda also is a Lyndonville resident. He would like to beautify the area near the Lyndonville Dam. He shows where the bank is suffering from erosion.

Mayor Steve McAvoy welcomes Fonda’s input and energy in making the site more stable and safer. McAvoy said the village will need to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, DEC, Soil and Water Conservation District and other agencies that will all need to sign off on any work at the site.

“He’s really taken the bull by the horns,” McAvoy said about Fonda.

The village of Lyndonville owns the lands by the property. Erosion has been a concern, especially as the pace has quickened in the past six months or so, McAvoy said.

The dam is at an angle where the creek hits the embankment hard, especially after big rains or snow melts.

“It’s tremendous the force in there,” said Terry Woodworth, the village DPW superintendent.

Photo courtesy of Village of Lyndonville – During high waters, after a big rain or snow melt, Johnson Creek rises and eats away at the embankment.

The village looked at a stabilization project a few years ago and it was about $350,000 then and there were questions whether it would work, Woodworth said.

“It won’t be an easy fix,” he said.

The village would like to see the upper pond dredged, and the flood gates and piping repaired by the dam.

Woodworth is grateful Fonda sees the potential at the site, and has got the community interested in it. Fonda has connected with government officials, service organizations and local individuals and businesses about the project.

“Vern has got people looking at it,’” Woodworth said.

Fonda also has been trying to improve public fishing access along the creek downstream.

“This started as a stabilization project and now it includes making the area more accessible to fishermen,” Fonda said.