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Lake Merced in San Francisco can be restored to its former glory as a top-notch urban fishery and unique ecosystem, but action is needed by anglers and the public for that to take place.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will hold an important meeting on July 18 regarding the future of Lake Merced, a natural lake in the city's southern end, on Wednesday, July 18 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

The meeting will be held at Harding Golf Course, 99 Harding Road, San Francisco, CA 94132

"There are many issues needing attention at Lake Merced, and one of them is the great need for San Francisco to bring back a professional fishing concession to serve fishermen," said Jerry Cadagan of the Committee to Save Lake Merced.

The concessionaire left Merced after years of groundwater pumping and neglect by city officials resulted in an alarmingly low lake level and low water quality.

"There has not been a fishing concession at Lake Merced since 1999," noted Cadagan. "Water levels at the lake are higher today than for many years, and water quality is improving."

Sadly, Recreation and Parks seems to forget about anglers and the fact that Lake Merced was once one of the premier urban fishing lakes in the US, according to Cadagan.

"That can happen again, but it will take an outpouring from the fishing community at the July 18 meeting to get the attention of the Recreation and Park Department," said Cadagan. "Please attend the meeting and speak up for the fishermen of the Bay Area – insist that a professional fishing concession be returned to Lake Merced."

The Parks and Recreation Department, in an announcement, described Wednesday's event as a "Community Planning Meeting" to discuss the activation of the Lake Merced Boathouse.

"Come and see how we have included your feedback into the proposed physical space of the new boathouse. This is an incredible opportunity to improve the building for all users and offer additional recreation programming like kayaking, day camps, or fishing at the lake," the Department wrote.

The lake was once the “crown jewel” of California urban fisheries and ecosystems. In fact, Field and Stream Magazine, in a cover story, once named Merced as the number one urban fishing program in the U.S.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s I would drive by Lake Merced every two weeks to talk to Dave Lyons and the others who staffed the fishing concession, then operated by Urban Park Concessionaires.

I would often talk to anglers bringing out a stringer of beautiful rainbow trout from the lake. And this was years after the lake’s heyday as a fishery when the trout grew plump on the lake’s fresh water shrimp.

Tom Stienstra, S.F. Chronicle outdoor columnist, in his column on July 8, described Lake Merced as “SF's dirty little secret: The Lake Merced cesspool."

“Once a prize jewel among the nation’s cities, San Francisco’s Lake Merced has deteriorated into a cesspool,” said Stienstra, who captured the lake’s current deplorable condition in a gallery of photos ( “Water quality, recreation access, fishing, boating, and the once-famous Boathouse Restaurant and Bar, resemble a gutter.“

“That is because gutters are where the water comes from that goes into the lake these days. Run-off from city streets, and its oil, grime and trash, along with nitrates from fertilizer from adjacent golf courses, has turned the lake a putrid green that can turn your stomach. Recreation facilities, including the boat hoists, special kids-only fishing pier and shoreline fishing access, have been plundered, overgrown and destroyed,” Stienstra continued.

It is appalling that the Recreation and Park Department and city officials have allowed the lake, fishery and recreational facilities to decline to their current deplorable state. I urge the public to attend this meeting in force and demand action now!

"At a minimum, some of the old time Lake Merced activists are certain to ask the ultimate question about Lake Merced that still remains unanswered after all these years --- WHO'S IN CHARGE?" forecasted Cadagan.

For more information, contact: Jerry Cadagan, Committee to Save Lake Merced, Phone 209-536-9278.

Originally posted to Dan Bacher on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 10:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by SFKossacks.

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