Saturday, September 12, 2015

PGC Discusses Plans For Woodring Farm

Woodring House: Photo by W.Hill
After the dedication of the new viewing area last Friday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission invited attendees to a press briefing at the Woodring Farm, which was purchased last year by The PGC. Commission with substantial financial assistance from The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

At the briefing,  PGC Northcentral Regional Director, Barry Zaffuto set forth the plans for the property, which include a headquarters building, roadside elk viewing, and a The Woodring Farm Hiking Trail, a 1/4 mile trail, which officially opened that day.  The Trail is just past the Woodring House to the left and leads to a scenic overlook 1/4 mile away.

Woodring Farm Hiking Trail: Photo by W. Hill
Below is the video of Regional Director Zaffuto's speech.

NCR Director Zaffuto Speaks At Woodring Farm from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

After Mr. Zaffuto spoke I&E Supervisor, Doty McDowell  announced the PGC fall schedule of events for the viewing areas and mentioned that on Saturdays there will be organized trail hikes on The Woodring Farm Hiking Trail.. He went on to mention that a web cam was installed to view the elk.  He would not reveal the exact location--except that it was nearby.  You may view the Elk Cam by going to the PGC Website and click on Elk Country Live Stream

At this point Mr. McDowell asked if there were any questions and LMO Colleen Shannon spoke up saying, "Representative Gabler just asked a question and it is very important to understand--this is still State Game Lands, so this is all land that can be hunted, there's nothing special about this as far as being restricted to hunting". McDowell then took over answering Representative Gabler's concerns and pointed out that the trail hikes stop on October 3rd this year, which is the first day of archery season.  He went on to state, "this land was purchased for the sole purpose of hunting and trapping so we want to keep that at foremost".  Below s the video.

NCR I&E Supervisor McDowell Explains Woodring Property Is Open To Hunting from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

In the clip below Mr. McDowell goes on to explain that it is only organized trail hikes that will end.  You will still be permitted to walk the trail during hunting season.

Clarification Of Trail Use During Hunting Season from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

After the presentation, were  were invited to follow Game Commission Officers to the scenic overlook.

Overlook At Woodring Farm: Photo by W. Hill
It seems that this area is being developed to divert attention somewhat away from the Dewey Road area, but it is unclear just how well some of this is going to work. Some are predicting this will result in this area becoming tightly restricted also. It will be interesting to see how things shake out as the peak of elk viewing season arrives.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Northcentral Regional Director, Barry Zaffuto Explains PGC Vision For Winslow Viewing Area

Today we will continue with coverage of the dedication ceremony at the Winslow Hill/Gilbert Farm Viewing Area by presenting the speech given by the Director of  The Northcentral Region of The Pennsylvania Game Commission, Barry Zaffuto.

PGC Northcentral Region Director: Barry Zaffuto
First I will present an overview of his speech and then follow with some exact quotes from Mr. Zaffuto, which will be followed by a video of the entire speech which is just over four minutes in length.

He began by discussing how elk viewing in this area began and I personally recall this period of time well as I began going there in 1995. At that time The Gilbert Farm was private property and people pulled to the side of the road and watched elk in the meadows. The photo below is a frame-grab from video shot in September of 1995.

Gilbert Farm In 1995 Taken From Saddle-Video Still Capture
 This was the same general area in September of 2013, with the area where the buildings once stood being just off the right lower corner of the photo.

Gilbert Farm 2013 Taken From Saddle
Zaffuto tells how that after the PGC acquired the property, the viewing area was developed in response to people arriving and included widening the shoulder of the road and dumping stone, etc. to make it more stable.  He points out that DCNR established several viewing areas, the most important of which was Elk Country Visitor Center, . This resulted in drastically increased visitation to the area and the Dewey Road area became unacceptably congested.

Mr. Zaffuto became regional director three years ago and was extremely interested in the elk herd.  He visited the hill not wearing a uniform and circulated among the public, observing the situation, and chatting with the public.He mentions that some of the major concerns were the congestion, with it sometimes taking over and hour to get off of the hill during peak use times, elk viewers by the roadside having to listen to idling diesel engines, and people stopping in front of houses and yards and parking in yards.

At this point I will post a direct quote from Zaffuto's speech, which explains very clearly the goals of the PGC for this area.

“This Location where we are continued to be the heart of elk viewing, where the herd is most viewed, and people are coming—something had to be done, The other big thought was there was too much interaction between elk and people, too many people were getting close they were following them around, too much habituation. So while we provide for the visitors we had to account for the interaction between people and elk so last year many of you know we started with the trail system and the horses and the bikes and the hikers and the restricted areas and we got that started to try and make that separation, the elk will get used to seeing people at the viewing areas and on the roads, but if you step off of the road we want them to raise their heads and say why are you where you are not supposed to be”

I am hesitant to post video as it can be off-putting for those with a relatively slow internet connection ( I am one of those) as the video will frequently hang on the first viewing--it helps to view it in SD, but then the quality suffers severely.  For that reason I have enabled viewers to download the video by following the link to the Vimeo page where it is posted.  For best viewing experience I recommend that you download it in 1080p or 720p.  The 1080p version is over 400MB in size and requires awhile to download, while the 720p is a good compromise, as it still gives good quality, and the download size is about 75MB and takes much less time to download.  Save it to your computer and then view it in either Windows Media Player or Apple Quicktime Player.  For whatever reason it is a bit dark in Windows Media Player and looks better in Quick Time, but enough of the technical talk--here is the video.

PGC Northcentral Director Barry Zaffuto Speaks At Dedication Of New Winslow Hill Viewing Area from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

Feel free to share the video.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.