Friday, January 16, 2015

PGC Considers Use Ban-Part II

The Future In Pennsylvania If Proposed Use Regulations Are Approved

First off I wish to thank Donna and Woody Meristem for their comments on yesterday's post.

Donna said, "Those who want to have their opinions heard can send comments to to be shared with the board. However, do it quickly, as they meet on January 25. This would really affect photographers, bird watchers, hikers, and all nature lovers. Offer to pay for a non-hunting use permit, etc. Losing access to State Game Lands for nearly half the year would hurt many of us".

Woody Meristem's said, "A user fee to contribute to the management and acquisition of State Game Lands would be very appropriate. But to close SGLs to everyone but hunters and trappers for almost half the year is something else entirely".

"If the PGC wants to turn a horde of non-hunters into anti-hunters and as a bonus get a lot of additional land posted against hunting this is the way to do it. It's hard to think of a better way to get bad PR for the agency, but I'm sure they could come up with some if they tried".

I think both comments are right on the money.  Not only that but concerned citizens should make their thoughts known to their state senator and representative and the governor's office as well.
Remember this is the e-mail address to comment directly to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Also I want to point out that Woody Meristem writes an excellent Blog, "In Forest and Field". He addresses conservation funding issues  In his November 30th article, "It's Time For A Change",    by pointing out that,"wildlife is a public resource that belongs to all the citizens of Pennsylvania whether they are hunters, non-hunters or anti-hunters".  I highly recommend that you check his blog out and be sure to read this timely and extremely important  post.

I submitted a comment today to the Pennsylvania Game Commission which is posted  in its' entirety below:

My Comment

I am writing to comment on the proposed rule changes to Code §§ 135.41 and the new Chapter 147, Subchapter AA.
I am commenting both from the standpoint of a private citizen and the perspective of a retired Game Lands Maintenance Supervisor, and DWCO. I have no problem with either buying a hunting license or paying a use fee of commensurate cost for the privilege of using State Game Lands. I do find it very distressing that the Commission would consider banning the presence of those not engaged in hunting from the game lands during the periods that the proposed regulation states.

From a law enforcement perspective it seems the thing would be a nightmare unless very specific definitions of unlawful behavior were formulated. Most objectionable is the "Hike on foot" part . Does the Commission seriously plan to make it illegal for one to walk on any game lands during the times in question unless they are hunting or trapping? If a properly licensed hunter fills their deer tag/tags will they still be allowed to enter game lands unless they are actively assisting someone in hunting? There is a lot that is not spelled out here--what if one is properly licensed, but hunts only in rifle deer season--will they be permitted to scout before season without being actively involved in hunting another species? If they have a valid hunting license, will they be arrested if they carry a camera and tripod instead of a hunting weapon?
While the game lands may have been mostly bought with hunting license dollars a lot has been contributed by groups such as the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and The Rocky Mountain Elk foundation so it is not all a one-way street. In addition it receives a very favorable deal on taxation of property with payment in lieu of taxes that if I understand correctly is generally less than tax rates on similar types of property. In addition hunters have the use of DCNR lands which are not paid for or maintained by hunting license dollars, yet it appears we want to repay this by severely restricting the ability of the general public to access game lands.

Has anyone stopped to consider the potential this has to damage the image of the Commission in the eyes of the general public?

I thank you for your consideration and for the opportunity to comment. I hope the Pennsylvania Game Commission will not follow the rash, draconian course of action that the proposal seems to set forth, but rather work together will all groups concerned for the benefit of wildlife and wild lands.

Willard C. Hill

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Donna said...

The Keystone Trails Associations' discussion of the proposed hiking ban says that the PGC will likely ask for a vote next week but that it will have to come before the board for a vote again in April.

Unknown said...

Willard, your letter is spot on! I have sent in my comments as well and will contact my local representative as well.