Required Updates to Dam

In PA Regulation (§ 105.96. Outlet works), adopted in 1980 and amended in 2011, additional safety specifications were added to the construction of dams. The Lake Heron dam was built in the 1960s, before these requirements existed.

§ 105.96. Outlet works.
(a) Dams must include a device to allow the complete draining of the reservoir unless the Department determines that an outlet works is not feasible for a specific dam. At minimum, the device must be sized to pass a minimum of 70% of the highest mean monthly inflow at the site plus the capacity to drain the top 2 feet of reservoir storage below normal pool in 24 hours.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is requiring that updates be made to the outlet works of Lake Heron dam, but the cost of more than $500,000 is well outside the Conservancy's operating budget. You can help!

Looking at this project as an opportunity, our preliminary designs include changing the currently used surface overflow to a modified design that "overflows" water pulled from the deepest parts of the lake, where dissolved oxygen is low and sediment and phosphorus are high. This change will help protect the health of the fish, and increase water quality.

draft design for modifications to Lake Heron primary outlet structure

During construction, the lake will be drawn down partially. This may be another opportunity, allowing for the 65 year old lake to be dredged for the first time. Note that dredging is not included in project cost, so consider it a fundraising "stretch goal."

Lake Heron Conservancy developed the engineering designs in 2021/2022. Those plans are now under review by PADEP for approval. The updated schedule has construction starting in October 2023. Care is being taken to have as little impact, if any, to Lake Heron Retreat's May-October campground operations.

You can help!

Please consider partnering with us to raise over $500,000 to prevent Lake Heron from being destroyed, and realize our vision of a Christian ministry through camping.

The Conservancy is raising funds for dam modifications required by PADEP, so Lake Heron isn't forced to be drained permanently. Lake Heron is part of a 240 acre property open for public use by reservation. The lake is a resource to hundreds of campers each year (coming from all over the US), to the wildlife on the 240 acres of woodland (plus hundreds of acres of woodland on the adjacent State Game Land and other neighboring properties), and to the community at large as an environmental preserve (soon via a perpetual conservation easement).

Donations aren't the only way to show your support; many opportunities are listed below.


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Please contact us if you'd like to help in other ways, such as making a charitable bequest to LHC or naming LHC as a beneficiary in your will.

We're also looking for donations of equipment, such as a front-end loader, a large lawnmower for cutting brush along trails, and a UTV (Gator/Polaris/similar 4x4 side-by-side with a dump bed).

Corporate Support

Your help in identifying corporate support is greatly appreciated and is very much welcomed! Send a link to your employer, local businesses who want to improve community resources, churches looking for camp/retreat facilities, etc.


Lake Heron has many volunteer opportunities each year, announced on the Lake Heron Volunteers email list. Firewood is cut and split, repairs are made to boats, cabins and picnic areas are cleaned, and leaves are raked.

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Past and Future

Lake Heron Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, founded in the memory of S. Dean Stephens. The Conservancy aims to preserve the 240 acres of woodland, lake, and trails that is home to Lake Heron Retreat in Liverpool, PA.

Dean and Gail Stephens bought the 240-acre property with the 10-acre lake in 1987 and knew it would be a beautiful area to develop for camping. They worked together for over 20 years to build it to what it is today.

Dean and Gail's desire is to ensure good stewardship of the property that God entrusted to them. Dean said, "It is just as important to God how we distribute what is left of His property when we die as it is how we managed it while we were alive." Their objective is to give Him a good return on His investment during the years they managed it.

Lake Heron Conservancy is fulfilling Dean and Gail’s legacy by preserving the Lake Heron property and continuing the Christian ministry, operating the Lake Heron Retreat campground as a nonprofit.

You are the key to the future. The founders planned, built, and dedicated the campground. The Lake Heron Conservancy is established, and the all-volunteer board of directors is tasked to perpetually manage the property and campground. Your support is critical to maintain that foundation, create new programs and opportunities, and help keep the vision alive.

Dean and Gail Stephens