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Mt. Storm Closure?

Discussion in 'Mid-Atlantic States' started by Pedro Burrito, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Pedro Burrito

    Pedro Burrito Moderator Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Boussens, Canton de Vaud, Suisse
    My dive instructor was told today that the WV DNR is now prohibiting diving and swimming from the shore at Mt. Storm.

    Anybody else hear that?
  2. mocepts

    mocepts Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Cumberland, MD
    Ughh. I haven't heard anything, but the plant manager at Mt. Storm asked us for a copy of the WV DNR dive flag regulations and anything else we could give him last week. I sent him an email, but never heard back. I'll see if I can't find out what's going on from my DNR buddies.
  3. diver1011

    diver1011 Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Martinsburg, WV
    My son emailed me and gave me the same information. He lives in Morgantown and was planning on diving this weekend. The word that he got was that Dominion Power has shut the entire lake to divers.

    The rumor is that boaters were complaining that divers were blocking the boat ramp and using too many parking spaces. (unconfirmed)
  4. SeaHorse81

    SeaHorse81 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: PA
  5. WVDiver

    WVDiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Podunk, WV
    For those who are unaware there is currently a dive by boat only restriction for Mt. Storm. I don't know a lot but what I have been able to ascertain from some of the folks I work with who are in the know and very reliable sources is that it seems that the ever present problems between boaters, swimmers and divers has escalated to a point that the owners of the lake and Mt. Storm power plant, Virginia Power and Electric Co. (VEPCO) have put a stop to all wading, swimming and shore diving until further notice.

    While the details are fussy and few it would seem a group of folks were swimming in and around the boat launches and boaters were concerned that someone would get hurt during the launching and retrieval of boat traffic. I have seen swimmers in the boat launch area before first hand jumping from the floating loading/unloading platforms and generally enjoying the boat launch area for their swimming activities.

    The boaters concerns are certainly appropriate and warranted and I think everyone would agree that the safety issues involved with having people in the water, and certainly in the boat launch area, during launching and recovery of boats is problematic and ever present. No one wants to see anyone get injured.

    Of course the boat launch area is not and has not ever been designated for swimmers in any way and indeed swimmers should NOT be near the launch area at anytime.

    So where do the divers fit into all of this? The answer is no one is exactly sure that any diver has been implicated in this current complaint but since swimming is an intricate aspect of diving and the fact that the shore diving entry area is close to boat launch it would appear that divers, in general, have been lumped into the category of swimmers.

    As a result the boaters have complained that since they buy fishing and boating licenses they should have exclusive rights to the launch area and the lake. Managers of VEPCO have, as a result, put a stop to all wading, swimming and yes shore diving until further notice.

    However I also know that VEPCO, the WVDNR, representatives of the boaters and other related parties are working toward a suitable conclusion for all those involved and that something will be decided. The time frame for this decision is being measured in weeks at the moment but all parties would like to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

    The WVDNR does not own the lake, as many folks believe, they merely lease the boat launch, shore diving entry area and parking areas for the purpose of recreational activities. DNR law enforcement is currently patrolling the area and asking folks not to wade, swim or shore dive.

    So unless you have a boat don't plan on diving Mt. Storm. As I find out more details I will post them for you but remember my summer schedule is very busy and I have little time to pursue this particular issue in detail. It is very likely that you will know information before I.
    SeaHorse81 likes this.
  6. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    Thanks WVDiver. To add to this I spoke with a shop owner this morning regarding this issue and what WVDiver says is along the same lines as what I was told.

    There have been issues come up from time to time over this. This is the first time it's gotten this bad to my knowledge. What seems to be the issue here is access. Access for everyone is the ultimate goal. But we have a situation where you have three groups of people -boaters, swimmers, and divers all in one small spot. From my perspective as someone who has been going to the lake for 7 years it is not so much an issue between boaters and divers. It's between boaters and swimmers.

    Divers rarely if ever use the docks for anything other than a rare training scenario or maybe an entry and exit for those who are unable to navigate the rocks at the scuba entry. Swimmers on the other hand can be seen swarming the docks, the bank, and parking very close to the water all the way down to the ramp. I've never seen divers do this. The other issue we have is that unlike many of the divers that come there and I'd say a fair number of boaters, the swimmers are locals. Locals who have nowhere else to go to swim. Pissing them off is not a good idea.

    Divers and boaters have never had any real problems other than the occasional boater who parks his truck and trailer in front of the scuba access and takes up 8 spaces. Then you have the jet ski operators (I don't consider them boaters) who, no matter where they are, seem to a higher than normal disregard for anyone except themselves. Divers on numerous occasions have assisted boaters in a number of ways. The shop owner I talked to this morning asssisted a boater whose boat capsized Memorial Day weekend by going in and recovering items that otherwise would have been lost. July 4th weekend I was asked to come over to the dock when a boater lost the washer and retaining nut from his starter. I located the washer but the nut was not to be found. While I was doing this a boater who was watching me dropped the pin from his motor mount in the water. I'm not a boat owner but it's the pin that holds the motor up out of the water for trailering. I was able to retrieve it for him.

    Anytime I'm there I get questions from boaters and swimmers on what kind of fish, how deep, etc. I always try to be nice and give them as much info as I can.

    One thing that divers also always seem to be doing that I see neither swimmers not boaters doing is picking up trash. It's not uncommon to pull in and see divers policing the area all the way down to ramp of beer cans and bottles, pop cans and bottles, empty bait containers, clothes, empty 12 packs, and even dirty diapers. No one tells us to do this but we do. We find cans and bottles in the water that many of us bring up and dispose of properly. We remove snagged lines and fish hooks that could end up in a swimmer's or wader's foot. I make it a point when seeing a swimmer or wader enter the water down by the scuba access to warn them of the junk that slobs have thrown in.

    We as a diving community need to make this known to Dominion Power. NOT IN A NASTY WAY! Just state the facts. And more importantly state what you did yourself to make it a better site. The argument about boaters paying license fees is a vaild one but as divers we also contribute to the local economy. We buy gasoline, eat at the Stained Glass, stay at local lodging even though that is now sparse with the Mountaineer closed and it's true that some would not stay there becasue it was "beneath them" but I loved that place. There are many good memories in those walls for me.

    I am going to send an email to Dominion as well as an excerpt from the chapter on local diving in my book and how it benefits the community and economy. I am also going to post that excerpt here in a few minutes for others to use in emails to them. Here is the contact info I've been able to find for them so far:
    HC 76 BOX 430 MOUNT STORM , WV 26739

    Media relations staff members are available by phone Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. While e-mail inquiries are welcome around the clock, if you have a question that requires immediate attention after regular work hours, during holidays or on weekends, please call the MediaLine, 804-771-6115. An on-call media relations duty person will respond to your call.

    •David Botkins - Director, Media Relations
    804-771-6115, David.B.Botkins@dom.com
    •Karl Neddenien, Dominion Virginia Power
    804-771-6115, Karl.R.Neddenien@dom.com
    •Daisy Pridgen, community affairs, broadcasting liaison, the Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley
    804-771-6115, Daisy.Pridgen@dom.com
    Dominion Virginia Power/Dominion North Carolina Power also has the following media and community relations managers in the company's service area to respond to local media inquiries, such as storm-related outages.

    •Le-Ha Anderson, Northern Virginia
    703-796-9308, Le-Ha.Anderson@dom.com
    •Bonita Harris, Eastern Virginia, North Carolina
    757-857-2367, Bonita.B.Harris@dom.com

    I am also going to be contacting a couple DEMA board members to see if there is anything they can do. The CEO of our agency is now on the DEMA board and last week the President of the DEMA board asked him to call that "Lapenta guy" and have me look at the geocaching site they are promoting to try and help local diving. It seems that some of my posts reagrding DEMA not doing enough to support local divers and diving did not go unnoticed! So do what you can and be nice and polite but let Dominion know what the loss of access to the lake means for you. Next post will be the excerpt from the book.

    Thanks, Jim Lapenta
    UDM Aquatic Services
  7. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    Here are some excerpts you may use in your communications to Dominion. These are from my book "SCUBA: A Paractical Guide for the New Diver" by James A Lapenta just make sure you cite the source for them

    Chapter 13: Why Dive Locally?

    "Some consider local diving as little more than a last resort, assuming that all they can look forward to is low
    visibility, cold water, few fish, and barren landscapes. Many divers, however, actually appreciate local diving
    as their preference for experiencing the underwater world. Local diving can offer sights that those who only
    do warm-water resort dives will never see."

    "I am a huge supporter of local diving and what it does for divers and dive shops. Local divers enjoy a
    number of benefits that are obvious and a few that are not. The most obvious benefit is the cost of travel to the
    site. Local diving can be as simple as deciding to dive, calling a buddy or even a group of divers, and
    getting the gear together. You then plan the dive or dives, do them, and either go home for a relaxing evening
    or get together with your buddies for some good times afterwards."

    "Divers tend to be very unselfish and caring people."

    "Local Diving is Family-Friendly"

    "Diving can be a fantastic family activity even if the whole family does not dive; the important thing is to
    get the family involved in some way. Local diving is an economical way to do this"

    "The parent who gets their kids involved in a positive experience like
    SCUBA diving is not only getting them interested in a good, wholesome activity, but is also reinforcing family

    "Local diving also allows the family to take a mini-vacation, if you will, and not have to rush for airports, rearrange schedules, or lose time from school studies. In the long days of late summer and early fall, the kids can get out of school, get with their parents, and in as little as an hour, be at a local site for a couple dives and perhaps a picnic supper. Not many have the opportunity to share that kind of enjoyable, unique experience together, with all of the distractions families have today."

    "Learning about the underwater environment and themselves, together with the closeness diving brings, they strengthen family bonds and discover how much they can rely on each other."

    "The final benefit of local diving is to the local economy as whole. When local divers buy gasoline, a
    sandwich or a soda at the gas station, or stop for lunch at a local restaurant, they are supporting the people who
    live and work nearby. They provide the opportunity for their neighbors to be employed."

    There is great deal more in the book on local diving. But these quotes may help you frame your own thoughts as to why access to the lake should be restored to us.

    Jim Lapenta
  8. diver1011

    diver1011 Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Martinsburg, WV
    Thanks Jim, I am getting the same information as you.

    I've been diving that lake since 1994. Back at that time there was a DNR officer that was assigned to Grant County that was very open about "hating" divers. (his words) He enforced the dive flag, boat dock restrictions, etc., with an iron fist. I was talking to him one Saturday afternoon when two jet skiers came into the area with the dive flags and actually did a slolam [sp] around the flags. I looked at the DNR officer and said, "well?" He never missed a beat and said "I can't catch them but divers are easy." Fortunately he was transferred and things have been peaceful for many years.

    Jim is right about the locals swimming there. I have seen it. (I used to live in that area so don't bash me) They don't really have any place else to go to swim. I think they may not know about the rules for staying off the docks. Although by the amount of trash; some probably don't care.

    The entry for divers has always been a little dicey. I have seen people fall. The answer (in my opinion) would be an nice catwalk to a floating platform for entry. If a dive shop would take it on as project, I'm sure people would assist. Of course, the whole liability/maintenence issue comes into play.

    Bottom line, I hope we don't lose this spot to dive.
  9. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I just received an acknowledgement from Mr. Botkins who is the director of Media Relations for Dominion stating that he will look into the matter. Less than 5 minutes after sending the email! Nice, that is appreciated. Will keep you all posted. I did not expect to hear anything until Monday at least.
  10. Doc Harry

    Doc Harry Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Appalachia
    In the meantime, there are some other great places to dive in that general area that I like better including:

    Youghiogheny River Lake
    Cool water, good viz, gets drained every year

    Tygart Lake
    Poor viz, many different access ints, gets drained every year

    The only real advantage of Mt. Storm over the other reservoirs in the area is the fact that Mt. Storm is not drained in the autumn, and in the winter the water is relatively warm at 48 degrees.

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