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DCNR evaluating overcrowding at Beltzville

Published May 16. 2018 11:45AM

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials today met with local legislators to update them on plans for a study related to the local community and visitor experience at the 3,002-acre Beltzville State Park in Carbon County.

Especially on summer holiday weekends, crowds often exceed the capacity of the park’s parking lots and other facilities.

“With the help of a contractor, DCNR will be talking with different stakeholders who live and work around, and visit the park, about the challenges that the park’s popularity presents, and about whether they have any suggested solutions,” DCNR Director of the Bureau of State Parks John Hallas said.

Ann Toole of Toole Recreation Planning met with state Rep. Doyle Heffley and staff from the office of state Sen. John Yudichak. Toole will be interviewing stakeholders for their perspective on the challenges and solutions.

The information gathered will be used to create a public survey that will be conducted through Penn State.

Starting in mid-summer of this year, Penn State representatives will visit the park to survey visitors in person through Labor Day weekend, and would anticipate returning in 2019 to survey from Memorial Day weekend through mid-summer.

The land at the park is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, and managed for recreation by DCNR.

Attractions at Beltzville State Park include Pohopoco Creek, an excellent trout stream that feeds the 949-acre Beltzville Lake, which is a destination for boaters. Other attractions include the 525-feet sand swimming beach; and picnic areas.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks, visit the DCNR website at

A century ago, my Irish-born grandparents were not welcome at certain beaches, parks, and other venues frequented by WASPs. I cannot object to denying these privileges to newcomers. This is a public park.
Yeah, ok, so us residents will stay at home due to the overcrowding, garbage strewn all over the place, and used baby diapers buried in the sand so your "newcomers' can enjoy themselves due to Beltzville being a "public park".
Something needs to be done, because I am sick of looking at the garbage left behind by this element of society who have overtaken our once-pristine lake and who come in droves on a hot summer weekend. The few times I dare go there - my local lake - to swim, I feel as if I were in a foreign land.
The attached picture to this article screams discrimination. Everyone knows the subtext of this article. BLUESKY must speak for the times news since tn allowed the post to remain. Beltzville is a state park and the stakeholders
are every resident in the
commonwealth. Politicians should be very careful attempting to side with anyone who moves against the use of state property by targeted commonwealth residents. This picture strongly suggest the target. Shame TN.
No, not a speaker for anyone. Just making a truthful statement about what's happening at the park.....and the picture is indicative of the problem. Drod, you need to go back to your sanctuary city.
I don't like Bigot, cigarette smoking, beer can sucking, redneck , pickup truck driving losers in the State Parks. The local hillbilly animals don't follow the rules either. Walking around with their fat guts hanging out and their filthy kids running around in their underwear, littering, spitting and using the F word like their getting paid to use it. Don't get me started on their fat cow wives...
You don't have a problem with this? Do YOU?
I didn't think so! Ignorant....
do you live by the lake? have you had to sit in stand still traffic because the road is blocked with grills and garbage? this occurs every year and nothing changes. personally, i don't think it's right to throw diapers and tampons in the lake, but they do it anyway. It's not discrimination, it's about being a decent human being.
And, I'm simply stating that isn't just "city folk", "hispanics" etc who are guilty of being pigs! it's BLUESKY'S good old boys who are just as guilty! Being a slob knows no race, religion or political view point! No I don't live by the lake... but, I live by Pocono Whitewater so I'm no stranger to INCONVENIENCE, garbage, and rudeness.
Exactly!! Way too many people want to make it a race/culture issue and it's not. There are plenty of good old boys trashing that park. The race stuff is just noise to stop people from having any real conversation on the matter.
This is a classic example of how PA Government doesn’t work. This overcrowding and littering problem has been evaluated, studied, and discussed for 15 years. Thoughtful letters to the editors have been written, but now we are back at square one, a misdirection by shifting burden to public again with more surveys (i.e. DCNR buying time and shirking THEIR decision making duties). Then the surveys will be done in a few years and a few more years for a Report, then management will be retired and the process will start over and the problems will be even worse. The simple solution was/is to charge a small amount to enter the park ($5.00/person to help offset the parks expenses and hire additional employees, as the do at some other parks where swimming is allowed). It is so simple, yet fair and reasonable.
Study, study, study, delay, and delay. It is an old yet very effective government trick.
There's an easy fix entry to the beach for carbon county residents, otherwise charge per car (or something to that effect). Other states do similar things at some parks.
If it were a county owned park, that would work, but since it is State owned park, it would not fly. I would charge ALL on weekends only, this is when it needed and locals could stay away then as the are usually compelled to do now anyway. It is so simple. If the diaper buriers have to help pay for clean up, they will probably stay away.
Let it be know from someone who grew up right near the lake, this happens EVERY YEAR. The road is blocked because people from the city double park and have bbqs on the side of the road. They also use the lake as a toilet and it is almost guaranteed that you can find tampons and diapers left over in the water and on the beach. To those of you saying this is racist or politically driven, be quiet, it's been this was for almost 30 years and people from the city come up and abuse the park. Every year the lake is closed for contamination due to the visitors. It's not about discrimination, it's about being a decent human being who doesn't litter or use a park as a dumping ground. If you live near the lake, you know to avoid pohopoco on memorial day and the 4th because it's a hot mess. Start charging people so this kind of nonsense stops.
Sadly, it's not just "city folk" making the problems. I live here. Plenty of local bumpkins are doing their fair share of trashing the park. The out of town visitor volume does create a capacity issue at the lake that officials need to address, but the "visitors" are no more guilty of trashing the park than the locals. Oh, and the lake closures from contamination are not due to the guests, it's due to the field run-off that dumps into Pohopoco Creek during heavy rains. The farms around the creek are loaded with bacteria. Some are even used by local septic companies for dumping their septic trucks. All of that runs off into the creek during heavy rains, and dumps right into the lake. The lake wasn't closed after memorial or July4th because there was no heavy rain and we had an insanely wet spring, so the fields were not as dry as they would be otherwise.
Sadly... there are no more locals that go here anymore. Charge $12.00 per person and it will all end, $50.00 season permits, to Monroe and Carbon PROPERTY TAX PAYERS . Limit daily attendance to parking spaces and charge a limited number of buses an impact fee of $150.00 per day.
I too have went here since the 70's, and it's true, it got crowded back then. On days when the lot was full, my Dad would leave and say we had to get there earlier next time. He didn't just park where he felt like it and teach us that we "deserve" to be here regardless of the rules.
And someone said litter was just as bad back than?? That's someone who truly wasn't there back then. It was not even close by any stretch of the imagination. The park was pristine and only occasionally may there have been extra trash piled on top of the dumpster. That is why there is a limit to the number of people who can reasonably enjoy this resource at the one time.
As for bacteria levels being from "farms", why than every year is there higher levels of bacteria, and less farms than there ever was around the lake?
Nearly very lake and river beach that is free, or relatively cheap in rural Pa has been enveloped with minority elements that seem to not have the same value for cleanliness as the rest of us.
Whether we just bicker about this forever or choose to really enforce existing "no parking" signs and make changes that can really make a positive difference is at the hands of those in charge.
It seems like for the past decade those in charge are not willing to "break a few eggs" to make a cake. Maybe it's time for some new bakers that will look out for the "quality" of the resource they are collecting paychecks to protect, and not be afraid to be considered 'racist' by enforcing the laws.
And congratulations to all that continue to throw trash out cars windows and make Pennsylvania roads look disgusting. It is nobody's job to pick up our trash. It is each person's responsibility to put it where it belongs in the first place.
I have to agree with you icepatrol. My friends and I would come up to the lake during the late 80`s into the 90`s. I came up to visit Beltsville lake in the early 2000 to share the experience with my kids. I could not believe the mess that was there, no parking, people just BBQing along the road and just was disgusted. Since then I have moved to carbon county. I am amazed that mauh chunk lake is now just as gross to visit. There is no where to go swimming in a lake that hasn't been trashed by "city people. I believe charging people and closing when hitting a certain number of people is fair. I think police need to fine those people illegally parking and BBQing along the roads as well as trashing these areas. All the natural beauty in this state is being taken for granted by these people. They had to drive 2 hours and are turned away well that's the way things go. It is unsafe when large crowds of people are swimming in that small of an area, it's dangerous to over crowd any area. If you charge per person it will cut down but the disgusting people will stop coming if they are handed 1,000 fines for illegally dumping. Its so sad that I have to drive 2 hours away to go to a clean swimming lake as I live close to Beltsville, mauh chunk and Tusquora (I know that isn't spelled right) however the word is out about where to go swimming cheaply and have a great day with your family so people from out of state have come to ruin it. It isn't local people it's people from out of state that do not pay taxes to maintain these places and don't care if in 10 years these places will b contaminated and closed. It isn't about race at all, or political ties, it's about the way you were brought up which obviously isn't the way we were raised. To respect nature, to leave it the way you found it so future generations can also enjoy it. So I say charge everyone and close it when the parking lot is full, and fine the hell out of people that can't follow the rules. You do this the problem will fix itself! Also since I realize holidays are especially bad. You should have to pay to obtain a special holiday pass with a limit on how many people it is for. That way holidays won't be as bad and. It is a great way to generate money to maintain the park.
Yup! I live by the lake. Kinda semi-retired. I'm at the lake all the time. I never go to the beach areas except to check for waterfowl, or get disgusted by the condition of the swimming area parking lots after a busy weekend.

Please understand on the crowded weekends there are dumpsters spaced along the parking lot to the beach area. You can't leave the beach area and not pass withing 50 feet of a dumpster yet there will be trash - and I mean trash like you cannot believe all over the parking lot.

Now drive over to the boat launch. It too is PACKED yet there's no trash or very little. And there's no dumpster there. Why is that?

I don't like the same things DIGGINGOUT@1 mentioned. Something tells me if you could understand Spanish that's a lot of what you'd be hearing (cursing and such) at the lake. However, we are not talking about rednecks, beer bellies, vulgar little kids, or fat cows. That's a discussion for maybe Mauch Chunk Lake, or the Carbon County Fair. We're talking about slobs throwing their trash all over a state park.

It's not illegal to be a fat, stupid, vulgar, bare bellied, beer guzzling redneck unless you add smoking in the wrong place. Then you might be arrested.

It is illegal to litter in a State Park - no matter who you are.

Thanks for being the Voice of Reason. I'm first admit that I can get extreme in my views! But, some people only understand the extreme! I commend your post and the way you presented. :)
That's because we all know the Rednecks have respect for their surroundings and clean up their trash for the next get together for even a better time, caus that's what the good old boys do, clean up after them selves.
Some day all you Carbon County folk will come to terms with the fact that 'others' are not the problem with you being poor, and ill and all of that. PA's state parks are for all. Beltzville is not unique in being overcrowded. How about instead of belly-aching you volunteer to help clean up, direct traffic, educate people?
Can't speak for anyone else, but there's no way I'm picking up that swimming area after a holiday. It's disgusting. You need to see it. What you are suggesting isn't volunteering - it's enabling.

How you going to direct traffic? The park is full and more people what to get in. So they park on Pohopoco Road and walk in like in the picture above. By the way those signs in the picture say NO PARKING.

If you, me, and everyone posting went down the the lake on Thursday and parked on the grass and threw garbage on the ground NEXT TO OUR PARKED CAR the Rangers would be all over us and WE would have a problem. Now if we did that the 1,500 of our friends the PARK would have a problem.

And that's where we're at.
This is not a racial problem. It is a State park but there should be a maximum number of people allowed at the swimming and picnic areas, for safety and health reasons. Handing out day passes that would have to be returned when leaving could keep track of the number of people entering. The swimming area should not be open with out proper staff such as lifeguards cleaning crews and patrolling park rangers who can issue citations for littering and other violations. Volunteers could possibly be used for clean-up and lifeguards. Maybe get older boy scouts and girl scouts involved. Something needs to be done because the days of local residents being able to utilize the swimming and picnic areas of our local state park have ended a long time ago due to the pure filth. There is no enforcement of litter laws to be seen at Beltsville State Park and it is deplorable. Getting more rangers patrolling the beach and picnic areas and handing out plenty of citations with plenty of signs posted that if you are seen littering you will be giving a costly fine would most likely minimize the problem in a very short time as the word spreads. More eyes and more citations would be the best solution.
they could also make the swimming area larger to accommodate more people. Punishment doesn't have to be the only answer. Problem solving works sometimes too. BTW, I'm not debating with you, I'm agreeing and adding ;)
Once again there is an over flow of illegally parked vehicles along the roadway causing a hazard. DCNR is attempting to alleviate the overcrowding of the park, a good start would be to start TOWING EVEVY ILLEGALLY PARKED VEHICILE off the roadway. This in it self would stop the major over crowding issue by it self. If the vehicle is parked there, with NO EXCEPTIONS it will be TOWED as it is clearly marked NO PARKING ANY TIME in addition to a citation. The tax payers spend enough money in taxes in school taxes to educate these uneducated, undocumented immigrants, who can't read the signs. And with influx of out of state park visitors polluting the park and causing the trash problem this would solve the problem.
They could add parking lots however it is unsafe and dangerous to over crowd any space however over crowded swimming areas is how people drown. I don't think that is a solution at all. Making people pay would offset the costs of maintaining this area. To hire lifeguards so it's safe, to hire rangers to fine people trashing and not parking where it's legal. I say make people pay, close when the lot is full, and fine heavily for people illegally dumping. On holidays obtain a special holiday pass with a person limit per pass, that way people won't be upset when they get there and are turned away.
I am so interested in this topic... I live near Beltzville State Park. I have lived close by my entire life and I use the park regularly, a lot of locals do, no matter what they tell you. And this issue does not bother me one bit - except to say it is the state's responsibility to take care of it. It is the state's responsibility to manage the traffic and people on the busy days and to clean up after them. If they can't do it - close it. This is one local who doesn't have a problem with the cars on the street, the grills along the street, the people walking along the road, the traffic, the dirt, the mess, the congestion, any of it. I avoid it on those busy days - the few days of the year we've come to learn it's the busiest, and I don't mind avoiding it. I don't even give it a second thought. If you feel it's impossible to avoid it, reply to my comment and I'll give you directions on how to get around it. There are a lot of ways. Then it can be one less day of your life you're annoyed and frustrated - or maybe not.

I am so happy that our little community has this place to offer to all who want to enjoy. I don't expect someone to drive for two hours to get here, see there is no parking and turn around to go home. People are people - whether they're clean or messy. It would be ideal if throngs of people would leave the place in pristine condition after a holiday weekend, but they don't.

So hey, State of PA, don't take a survey, don't ask stakeholders their opinion, and for heaven's sake, no referendums. Do your job, make the decisions, hire the workers, add a parking lot, and just deal with the problem. To the rest of you. Go! Go there and enjoy it, locals and "outsiders" alike. Go and enjoy it to the fullest, have a great day there!
I live less than a mile from the lake. I think these capacity problems are problems that can be fixed with basic common sense approaches. First thing people (especially local people) need to realize is that this park is not THEIR park. It's a state park. It belongs to all of the taxpayers..even the "city folk!" Out-of-towners have state parks back home that Pennsylvanians routinely visit. They are funded by federal dollars and belong to all people of America. That's the way it works. Just putting that out there as I don't think charging for park access, especially for out-of-towners is the right move. Having too many people on the lake or at the beach at one time creates real risk to the people in these places. We have to start turning people away.
Perhaps the solution is to hand out beach/launch access passes to keep count. Once they hit the cap, put a sign at 209 and 534 and another at 209 and Harrity that says the beach is closed or the park is at capacity so that people don't continue to drive toward the lake and creating a bottleneck on Pocohopo. I think you can also pass legislation that littering at State Parks carries and EXTREME cost in fines. Something like $1000 for the first offense. They may not pay it, but the perpetrator likely won't be coming back to the lake anytime soon. There are things that can be done to control the madness.
Got news for you. I've been going to Beltzville since it opened in 1972. This overcrowding and littering is not a recent phenomenon. Many times in the 1980's & 1990's I've gotten there too late to be able to get in the parking lots of either the boat launches or the beach. And many times, a couple days later, I picked up 4 or 5 garbage bags of trash, thoughtlessly left strewn in the parking lots. And I can tell you with 100% assurance, that a lot of it was left by the locals.
I've always thought and advocated for some kind of entrance fee. $3.00 to $5.00 per carload isn't going to break anybody's budget. And Carbon County residents should be able to either purchase or register for a low or no-cost season pass they can put on their dashboard. We also have to realize that we've experienced a population boom of epic proportions in the past 30 years or so. There's not a lot of pristine farmland or woodland available in the area. The added pressure on Beltzville or any other local attractions is a manifestation of the burgeoning population. State and local governments need to come up with a workable solution that helps to preserve places like Beltzville, alleviates overcrowding, but still allows anybody to enjoy the facilities.
Mauh chunk isn't as bad as Beltsville. However give it another year or so. I was there over the summer and I seen a piece of human shit float by so it's getting there. Where it came from a family visiting from new jersey and they thought it was so funny. So give it another year or so and it will be just as bad. People from out of state should have to pay more after it's a state park not federal which means they are not in anyway paying to help maintain these places. Just come have fun trash it and leave. Go to the lakes in jersey the ones I have seen look like Beltsville trashed gross, and literally have gasoline floating on the water. I don't believe it was safe to swim in it but people were.
Simply request proper identification to enter. It's simple, cheap, and quarenteed to reduce weekend and holiday traffic by at least half, if not more. Same goes for voting, why not require it? I mean, you need to be a citizen to vote right? Show me who you are sir. Simple solutions for simple problems.
Dude, it's racist to ask for i.d. to vote, now you want i.d. to use the park? I feel there should be a check point and if you have out of state plates, you should be charged 20 bucks for entry
Beltzville is a State Park. They are run, owned and operated by State so any changes to operational policy must be dictated at State level. Not sure why our Reps love to exploit the issue for political gain even though they are failing miserably to get any changes to laws. As a tourist attraction people are going to come. Do the people living at the Jersey Shore complain about the filthy PA and NY tourists coming and making their beaches dirty. All visitors are filthy and inconsiderate these days. Go to it clean? No! Can the park do things to control visitors...absolutely if funding was there. Locals going to bitch as a Fire Company doesn't seem very constructive. Our government officials know the problem exists and our desire to see parking or entrance fees instituted. Bitching at some fake meeting isn't going to make Harrisburg move any quicker. Part of living near a tourist attraction is that you must tolerate tourist so businesses benefit from their money. Locals here think its still the 1980's. The Poconos and Lehigh Valley are growing and things never will be the same rural ways. A lot of people around here have to grow up and be adults and leave go of their backwards ways. Last I checked the park isn't "our" park...its the state's. You want a untainted wilderness..move to Alaska because few exist in this age
I saved my money for a couple years to buy a boat. I finally bought a four Winn’s 19ft
My family and I were so excited to go to the local lake. I see first hand all the overcrowding and garbage. The garbage is not just on land it’s also out in the lake there has been countless times I stopped and picked up plastic bottles and bags along with other things out in the lake. It’s not just the problem with trash on the beeches it’s going to eventually affect the wildlife of the lake. I live ten minutes from beltzville and I drive to lake wallenpaupake to fish and enjoy swimming and nature. The reason why all “the city folk” come to beltzville is simple. All the parks and lakes in New Jersey and New York you have to pay to get in so the city folk would rather drive hours to a free lake. Then they are free to party destroy and wreck those people don’t come to enjoy and embrace its a party with no clean up and go home. I met people out there from the five boroughs of New York. Very rude ignorant people on personal watercraft cutting people off cursing at others in front of kids it’s horrid and there needs to be a change. Everything is going to stay exactly as business as usual until we the people of this area stand together and force change. I have spoke to a couple people and they keep saying can’t charge it’s a free park. Well I say B.S it’s owned by the army corps of engineers and ran by dcnr ok great we need to go to the army corps of engineers and have them make the change. It’s easy local carbon residents is free pa residents 2 dollars a person 5 a person for out of state people. Boats registered in pa free every other 20 dollars for the day. And with the extra money they can hire more guards to patrol and fine the redneck slobs for littering having alcohol and everything else.
Hopefully the wall will have a "trickle down" effect on the over crowding and feces in the water. It is kinda like Montezuma's revenge here in the US!
Hopefully the wall will have a "trickle down" effect on the over crowding and feces in the water. It is kinda like Montezuma's revenge here in the US!
Hopefully the wall will have a "trickle down" effect on the over crowding and feces in the water. It is kinda like Montezuma's revenge here in the US!

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