For more than 50 years, Glade Run Lake in Butler County was a popular spot for anglers, boaters and hockey players.
"It was sort of a best-kept secret kind of lake," said Gail Oare, secretary of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy.
But the state drained the 52-acre lake in Middlesex last year because of seepage at the bottom of the earthen dam that formed the lake.
Repairs are estimated at $4 million, which the cash-strapped state does not have. The conservancy was formed to help.
"This is truly a group effort," said Sigmund "Siggy" Pehel, president of the conservancy. "There are four officers and we have nine board members. These people really have put a lot of their money up and lots of their time. There have been thousands of hours devoted to the conservancy by the entire board."
The conservancy started with 25 members and $500. Now, there are more than 1,200 members and $60,000 in pledges and donations, Mr. Pehel said.
The Mars Rod and Gun Club held a shooting event Sunday as a fundraiser. That event was expected to bring in approximately $2,000, he said.
Conservancy members have also met with state and local officials to get their support. Middlesex supervisors voted in May to donate $10,000 a year for three years, and eight other townships sent letters of support.
"We're making major inroads," Mr. Pehel said.
And the state Fish and Boat Commission entered into a lease agreement with Middlesex that will allow people to use the property for fundraising events or cleanup efforts, he added.
"It's a long road. We feel very confident that we are going to get this done," he said.
It has been done before, at Leisure Lake in the Lehigh Valley area and Possum Lake in Carlisle, he said.
In an effort to increase community awareness of the issue, Mr. Pehel told the Mars Area school board Oct. 2 that the lake site could be used by classes that wanted to study the ecosystem there. Several conservancy members met recently with Matt Friedman, Mars Area assistant superintendent, and Michael Leitera, South Butler School District assistant superintendent.
"Both school assistant superintendents were highly enthusiastic," said Gail Oare, secretary of the conservancy. "They see the school districts' potential collaboration as a real opportunity to give something to the students."
Mr. Pehel said the lake area could be used for lessons in biology, environment, soil and water testing and bird watching, and the conservancy's story could be used for civics and government.
If the students and teachers get involved, the parents may follow, he said.
"We are getting this pushed out there so people become aware of it and, through the awareness, becoming members and donors," he said. "The load is a lot lighter with many hands. And we are starting to get those many hands come to our aid and support."
Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: email@example.com