Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Major Changes Coming To Winslow Hill Viewing Area

The attention of elk photographers is mostly focused now on the shedding of the velvet which takes place in a time slot ranging from slightly before the middle of August to the end of the month.  In fact most bulls have shed by now,  but it was still possible to find one still shedding on Tuesday morning.

5x5 Shedding Velvet
During a break in the filming I checked the signs on the bulletin board at the Porcupine Run/ Winslow Hill Viewing Area and was amazed to find that major changes are in store for this favorite destination of elk watchers According to the sign several changes will be implemented beginning in 2014 including the relocation of Dewey Road, the construction of a large parking lot, a tour bus drop-off area and hiking trails and observation areas.

Below is a photo of the Master Plan for the viewing area which was prepared by Larson Design Group.

I you are coming up Winslow Hill from the Elk Country Visitor Center, it appears that the new, relocated section of Dewey Road will turn off of Winslow Hill before where the parking lot is  now and curve around the hill to rejoin the existing portion of Dewey Road before one gets to the access road to the property that used to belong to Claude "Dr. Perk" Nye or before you reach where the Gilbert farm buildings used to be located.

The current parking lot is to be replaced with a large lot that is accessible  only by a connecting road from Winslow Hill Road. This will likely mean no more pulling off of Winslow Hill Road along the road frontage so as to minimize the chance for congestion and accidents.  In addition, provisions will be made to gate the parking lot when officials desire.

I looks as though the area where Dewey Road now intersects Winslow Hill Road  will be the approximate location of the bus drop-off.  That section of the old road will either be re-landscaped into wildlife habitat or may be made into a portion of the access trails.

Old Dewey Road in Foreground should be joined by new section before old barn and garage
(this photo was taken before the buildings were razed)

It appears that what is labeled the upper viewing area may be about where roadside parking currently begins along Dewey Road. The second  viewing  area seems to be along a tree line and only about half-way from Winslow Hill Road to the Nye lane. The plan document that is posted seems to be a combination of drawing, satellite photo, and topographic map and even standing on the spot, it is a bit hard to understand exactly how things will be.  It is possible that this area could overlook the hollow to the north of the Gilbert Field.  I do not know at this point.

I wish to emphasize that this is only how I interpret this information based on the knowledge I now have. I will inform blog readers as more information becomes available.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Steve Ferendo said...

Thanks for the heads-up. One thing for sure, everything changes sooner or later. I hope this is a change for the better.

Unknown said...

Hi Willard, what is your opinion on this proposed change? Here's what I'm thinking. While I do like the "uncommercialized" aspect of Winslow Hill/Dewey Road, I think the new layout will put the viewer more in the middle of everything. Remember the fighting below the cabin last year while I was talking to you? Photos and video into that area may be usable with a 600mm and the proposed change. Time will tell.

Linda G. said...

I agree with Steve. Change is inevitable. I hope that this change benefits everyone.

Willard said...

Thanks for commenting everyone.

It was a bit of a shock to discover this information, but I am cautiously optimistic. It seems likely that crowds will continue to increase and this must be dealt with in some way.

The intersection of Winslow Hill and Dewey Rd can be difficult at peak traffic times during the rut
and this will alleviate that.

As you will note in the last post, the lower viewing area will actually be where I thought the upper one would be-- so no help in getting closer to the cabin, but you can get closer to it by hiking up the road to the left at the parking lot at the end of Dewey Rd. (As long as we are not shut out of, or excessively restricted in that area).

If there is still room to stand along the roadside and photograph from the point where the new section of Dewey Rd joins the old to where the Gilbert Buildings used to be there should be no harm to the way I utilize the area and it should help in many ways. It will also depend on if we can still park at the ponds below the Gilbert homestead and photograph the meadows there.

If crowds continue to grow there will be more restrictions, but it seems there will be more facilities to handle them. The downside is that some areas that were relatively private before will now get a large influx of people. One in particular is a scenic lookout on the Woodring property which the PGC just obtained. I am not sure what will happen there, but I do know a hiking trail is planned to the lookout and that will likely lead to a National Park type situation where there is a steady stream of foot traffic to it during the peak season.