Tuesday, November 23, 2010

News From Pennsylvania Elk Country: A Report From Paul Staniszewski

Today, I received a very informative e-mail from Paul Staniszewski that covers some important developments in Pennsylvania elk country and will be the basis for most of today's post.

There was much speculation that the bull known as "Attitude" among our circle of photographers was among the bulls that were shot this past hunting season, but Paul reports that he and Ron "Buckwheat" Saffer did see this bull and seven cows across from Benezett store. They also saw four other large bulls, which included the famous Benezette town bull "Fred", aka "Dog Rope", aka "Bull No. 36". This is welcome news when two of the most famous character bulls "Odie" aka "Kisser" and "Crazy Legs Jr." were killed during the past elk season, along with the large 7x7 that thrilled thousands of visitors to the Elk Country Visitor Center.

Two Of The Major Attractions At Elk Country Visitor Center, Killed In Elk Season: Photo by W.Hill
 In addition, Paul reports:
"In traveling down Dewey Road we were surprised to see that the barn and garage at the Gilbert Farm were gone.... I was glad to see that theywere not simply burned down, but dismantled with the barn siding and foundation stones salvaged.

Kenny Gilbert Barn: Photo by W.Hill
Shed At Gilbert: Photo by W.Hill
Further down across the road from the "Stink Ponds" we observed at least 75 cows feeding in the field.

Elk At Ponds Near Gilbert Buildings: Photo by W.Hill
  In our discussions with local residents, all of the talk was about the all the Marcellus Gas Well leases being signed and a lot of money changing hands.I am very concerned about how all the drilling being planned in the area will impact the elk herd and how the hundreds of thousands of visitors and gas well activity (including traffic) will coexist.

Marcellus Sale Related Work-Porcupine Run-Winslow Hill Viewing Area: Photo by W.Hill
 Editor's Note:
According to other information that I have received, it seems that the gas and oil rights on at least a portion of the public lands on Winslow Hill are still owned by previous owners or their families. This includes the land where the Elk Country Visitor Center is located. A local resident told me on the day that the above photo was taken that a gas well is to be located there.

Now more from Paul Staniszewski:
"We stopped in the Elk Country Visitors Center and the staff reported that the previous day (Sunday) was just as busy as it was during the rut in October. The traffic to the center has far exceeded everyone's expectations. I look at this as being very positive because more and more people are being educated as to the value of the elk herd as a asset to be viewed and appreciated by many tourists rather than a handful of hunters.

On the way home, we stopped in Hollywood and spoke to Larry Alexander,an environmental engineer from DEP, and he gave us a tour of the abandoned mine drainage reclamation project that is currently underway. This project is very important because these are the headwaters of the Bennetts Branch that runs through Benezette. Larry previously worked out of the trailer that was parked on the Gilbert Farm for 8 years while he supervised the building of the 2 silos, the construction of the "Stink Ponds", and all the other activity related to cleaning up Dents Run. He told us that presently the lower reaches of Dents Run are now able to sustain aquatic insect life and will be stocked with trout. I never thought that I would see that happened in my

A special thanks to Paul for another informative report.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill