Social media allegedly brought crowds to “The Rock” in Tilden Township and in response, the State Police have responded on social media.
“In the interests of public safety, we wanted to inform the public that anyone traveling onto the Rock and/or the area surrounding it is TRESPASSING and faces possible arrest,” the PA State Police posted on their Facebook page on Aug. 3.
After the YouTube video “Wild Things - Peace Rock / Cliff Jumping & Dam Sliding” by Nick Savino was posted about four weeks ago, which now has more than 32,000 hits, cars have lined Port Clinton Avenue from Schuylkill County into the Berks County on weekends. Swimmers packed the Schuylkill River beach in West Brunswick Township and jumped of The Rock in Tilden Township. The Kernsville Dam was also packed with crowds of people sliding down the dam and jumping off of it.
Meanwhile, local residents and groups, including the Blue Mountain Wildlife Inc. who maintains the trails in the Kernsville Dam Recreation Area, complained about the trash left behind by visitors from near and far and expressed concerns about safety as a result of cars parked along Port Clinton Avenue and pedestrians walking along the curvy two-lane road, as well as Route 61.
While some continued to post photos of their fun at The Rock, including on the Facebook page Peace Rock, others on social media called to have The Rock shut down.
In response to the concerns and complaints, Rep. Jerry Knowles hosted a closed meeting on July 29 with local officials, Department of Environmental Protection representatives and police to address concerns.
“It was a very productive meeting,” said Knowles after the meeting to the media. “The issues of trash, parking, public safety and drinking and drugs was brought up, was discussed in great detail. There will be follow up in terms of the law enforcement, as well as our public safety folks, our emergency responders as well as DEP.”
“It is Commonwealth property out there,” said Jeff Means of DEP. “I think a lot of people are misinformed. It’s not a state park. When folks go out there, there are trespassing issues and access issues.”
Since that meeting, “No Parking” signs have been installed along Port Clinton Avenue by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
State Police issued on their Facebook page a Peace Rock Area Notification.
“The Pennsylvania State Police would like to remind the public that the land area in the vicinity of Peace Rock in the Port Clinton area of southern Schuylkill County is owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. While it is owned by the Commonwealth of PA, it is NOT open to the public therefore anyone traveling onto this property is trespassing,” posted State Police. “Until a few years ago, the area was virtually unknown except to local residents. However, with the recent advent of social media, the number of people coming to swim at the Rock has increased by the hundreds.”
State Police said the resulting influx of people has overwhelmed the area in a number of ways.
“There is virtually no safe or legal place to park vehicles. There is also nowhere to deposit trash and there are no sanitary facilities available. Simply put, the area is not a formal “recreation area” and therefore not equipped to support the ever increasing number of visitors,” posted State Police. “In addition, jumping off of the Rock and swimming in the river in this area has proven dangerous as we have investigated an average of one drowning per year, including the most recent drowning on July 24, 2016.”
To address these concerns and for public safety, State Police want to inform the public that anyone traveling onto the Rock and/or the area surrounding it is trespassing and faces possible arrest.
“We would encourage anyone looking for a safe and legal place to swim to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,” posted State Police.
The State Police Facebook post has 4,673 shares and 746 comments, as of Aug. 6.
Eric Stump: “I love how all the people that want to petition the area to make it public are from outside the area. You guys don’t realize how big of a nuisance you make this. People are (pooping) in buckets and leaving it there. When it rains the buckets overflow...into OUR water supplies. I can’t count how many times I’ve almost gotten into accidents because people are running across Route 61 while I’m trying to commute to work. There are plenty of other free things to do in our beautiful state besides jumping off a death trap.”
Heather Noecker: “All these people saying awww this ruins our fun or we should petition this maybe you should go volunteer as a firefighter/EMT/police officer that has to go there and try to save someone’s life (Which doesn’t happen very often there unfortunately) and then have to live knowing there’s another person you couldn’t save! I don’t see how having fun justifies people dying. You are all selfish.”
Jeremy Williams: “We The People can be arrested for this but it’s ok to enter the country illegally. How about we petition to make this a public area.”
Reggie Henne: “I was there one time very recently on a Friday. NOT a lot of people. But anyways an inside part of me is Happy its now closed. When I saw the area across from the Rock and all the TRASH I was truly disgusted with the people who just felt irresponsible and decided to leave their trash behind instead of taking it and disposing of it the RIGHT way. You want to go out and enjoy what our planet has to offer and then disgrace it with your trash is truly a SHAME. You people are a disgrace.”
Shawn Smith: “I’m sorry but PA State Police is greatly confused and living in a delusional and tyrannical fantasy. This State owned land meaning it was bought and paid for with OUR tax dollars and belongs to each and every resident of PA. They have ZERO rights to dictate how the residents of PA use and enjoy nature on land that our taxes paid for. This is a perfect example of over reaching Government control.”
Bud Miller: “The solution is simple. Leave The Rock (not Peace Rock) alone. Simply fill in the deep water hole in front of it with boulders until it’s only 4’ deep. No more jumping means idiots will go trash some place else. Problem solved.”