Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Game Commission Board Tables Recreation Use Permit On Game Lands Proposal

The Board of Game Commissioners Tuesday tabled a proposal to create a permit that would be required for those who don’t hold a valid hunting or furtaker license, but who use designated trails on state game lands for bicycling, snowmobiling or horseback riding.
The commissioners directed the Executive Director to work with staff to re-evaluate the proposal and bring new recommendations to the board at the working group meeting December 11 at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters.
Among other things, the commissioners said they want to make clear in the proposal that those using previously approved trails such as Rails to Trails would be exempted from needing the permit.
Many on the board said they continue to believe action is necessary to curb damage occurring on game lands through heavier impact uses that occur not only on authorized trails, but in other areas of game lands where such uses are unauthorized and illegal. By requiring a permit, the Game Commission would have a vehicle for providing information about game lands and the regulations that apply there, commissioners said.
“The permit itself does more to benefit the Game Commission than the fee associated with it,” said Commissioner Brian Hoover, who recommended the feasibility study into the proposed permit.
Commissioner David Putnam also recommended stepped-up enforcement on unauthorized trail use on game lands as a means of directly addressing the destruction of wildlife habitat caused by unlawful recreational riding.
In reworking the proposal, Game Commission staff will inventory authorized and unauthorized trails on game lands, as well as the presence of signage marking the trails.
The proposal that was tabled would have added the privilege to use designated trails on game lands to those provided by the existing $30 permit that enables purchasers to use shooting ranges on state game lands.
While non-hunting recreational uses traditionally have been allowed on game lands on a limited basis, the primary use of state game lands is to provide wildlife habitat and create hunting and trapping opportunities for the Pennsylvanians.
State game lands are unlike state county parks, which often are purchased with tax dollars. Pennsylvania’s more than 1.4 million acre state game lands system was created primarily with funding provided by the state’s hunters and trappers, through license sales and other means.
The permit proposed seeks to recover some of the money spent on trail maintenance associated with recreational riding that’s not related to hunting, and preserve the game lands as prime wildlife habitat.
In other actions, the Board--
-- Game Commission Acquires 170 Acres Of Land
-- Board Approves 2 Energy Leases
-- Falconers Allowed Chance At Arctic Peregrines
-- New Online Option For Hunter Education Explored
Click Here for a complete summary of Board actions.

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