News | July 26, 2017

Historic lake to open again

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For the first time since the late 1970’s, Brown’s Lake at Joint Base Langley-Eustis has re-opened for recreational catch-and-release fishing, after the hard work and dedication from the JBLE Restoration Program team.

The lake was closed nearly 40 years ago due to contamination from toxic pesticides, grease, oils and organic chemicals. After continued testing throughout the 80’s and 90’s, water quality tests continued to show high levels of pollutants. In 1999, removal action was completed to remove sediments from the upper ditch, drain the lake, remove lake sediments, cap the lake bottom and install a sediment control system.

During inclement weather, storm water run-off from the 50-acre drainage area would collect in the nearby ditch and then discharge into Brown’s Lake. Project engineers were tasked with removing pollutants from the storm water prior to entering into the lake. Once these efforts were complete, the lake was refilled and fish were restocked.

“Since the removal action, land use controls were put in place to protect the lake sediments and allow the lake, flora and fauna to stabilize,” said Tim Blevins, JBLE Restoration Program chief. “Since that point, every three years, we have taken sediment and fish tissue samples to gauge the results of our clean-up efforts.”

In 2007, the Restoration Program team began working on one of the U.S. Army’s objectives to re-open Brown’s Lake to a recreational status. In the spring of 2017, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency, the installation had successfully reached a point where the lake could be reopened for catch and release fishing.

“Last year I approached our state and federal regulators with the idea of reopening the lake for recreational catch and release fishing, similar to Eustis Lake,” said Blevins. “The only thing we had left to do was obtain permission from the 733rd Mission Support Group commander to re-open the lake.”

Those interested in fishing on the installation must have a valid Virginia fishing license, a saltwater license for fishing the James River or Warwick River, and a freshwater license for fishing at Eustis Lake or Brown’s Lake. In addition to Virginia laws, fishers must also have an installation fishing permit purchased from Outdoor Recreation.

For more information on the program or to obtain a fishing permit, contact Outdoor Recreation at 878-2610. For a Virginia fishing license, contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses.

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