|PGC Northcentrail Information & Education Supervisor Doty McDowell Speaks At Dedication|
Land Management Officer Colleen Shannon was on the scene when I arrived. As she is the supervisor of the crew that maintains the game lands on Winslow Hill I approached her with my concerns.
|Land Management Officer Colleen Shannon|
I also hoped to identify exactly who was responsible for the actual location of the boundaries of the restricted area in the saddle and asked Officer Shannon if she would clarify whether the boundaries were set at the state level (Harrisburg) l, the regional level (Jersey Shore) or the land management group level. The answer as I understood it was that she and the elk biologist, Jeremy Banfield, set the boundary lines working in conjunction with the Northcentral regional office of the PGC.
The purpose of this question was to determine if there was a possibility that a group of photographers could work together with the PGC in adjusting the boundaries to make The Saddle more usable to them while still conforming to the PGCs overall goals for the area. I pointed out as an example the designated trail that goes into The Saddle and back to the area where the last pile of earth was before reclamation was complete. Naturally the road makes a convenient boundary, but allowing users to step a few yards out of the road to the north would enable them to see the ridge to the north, which they cannot do at present. Shannon responded that," The Saddle is for elk and not for people", and went on to explain that the main concerns in setting up the restricted zone were safety and the habituation of elk. She further explained that on two instances last fall they had seen bulls chasing cows through groups of people and this could not be tolerated. She went on to say that they didn't want people on top of the hill in The Saddle at the scenic lookout as there is often a lot of elk there and they don't want people interacting with them and don't want the people at the viewing area at the Gilbert Farm having to see all of the people on top of The Saddle.
I asked if we could expect the restricted areas to increase in size in the next few years and the answer was that if the current restrictions do not solve the problem there will be more. She also told me that the original proposal was for a larger area to be restricted, but this was not adopted.
The official program began at 1:00 and featured a variety of speakers including, PGC Executive Director Matt Hough, and Northcentral Region Director, Barry Zaffuto.
Regional Director Zaffuto dealt with the history of how the viewing area on Dewey Road evolved over the years and went on to discuss in detail PGC concerns and goals in reference to the habituation of elk, which will hopefully be the subject of another post in the near future.
Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.