Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DCNR State Forest Districts Opening Additional Roads To Hunters

When a new season opens Monday for Pennsylvania deer hunters, new hunting grounds will be available to them as well if they take advantage of additional state forest road access in 18 of the 20 state forest districts.
“When hunters seeking white-tailed deer head for the hardwoods for the opening of the state’s traditional season, they will find more than 90 percent of all state forestland is now within one-half mile of an open road,” said Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti. “Since the start of archery season in early October, the Bureau of Forestry has opened more than 400 additional miles of state forest roads that normally are gated.”
Through the state’s archery season, which closed November 15, and the state’s other deer hunting seasons, running into January 2015, more than 3,000 miles of roadway will be open to hunters in state forestlands.
“Selective, temporary opening of state forest roads enables our forestry experts to channel deer hunting pressure where they think it is needed to benefit forest regeneration,” said Ferretti. “We’re also offering hunters -- who we view as invaluable tools and partners in both wildlife management and forest stewardship -- easier access to sometimes remote areas in this ‘win-win’ decision.”
With the hunter in mind, DCNR recently has launched a new interactive map of state forest lands across the state offering information on newly opened roads, timber harvesting activity, forestry office contact numbers and more. The map can be viewed online.
Ferretti noted some of the additional roads will be open only during deer season and at the discretion of the district forester. Others only will be opened for the second week of the traditional rifle season because they cannot withstand the expected heavy traffic of the first week. Two- or three-month long openings will be in effect only where there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
Many state parks, especially those in the 12-county Pennsylvania Wilds region, offer inexpensive camping and access to top-quality hunting in nearby public forestlands.
Primitive camping on state forestlands also is an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping or hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, are required when camping on state forestlands.
Many of these campsites are close to state parks and forest lands enrolled in the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed. Hunters are advised to check with state forests district headquarters or state park offices about availability.
Hunters traveling to some north central areas of the state are reminded some hunting areas and travel routes may be impacted by Marcellus Shale-related activities. Some state forest roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety hazards.
To avoid potential conflicts on state forest roads during times of high public use, DCNR attempts to limit or restrict truck traffic at the outset of major hunting and fishing seasons.
Also, hunters in Sproul State Forest are reminded a large-scale acid mine remediation project is under way near Renovo with heavy truck traffic. A 1.5 mile section of Boyer Road, a state forest road, will be closed but the project’s major impact is the closure of Two Mile Road, a public road, from the Huling Branch Parking Lot to Robbins Farm Road.  Access into that area will be from Route 144 on either Big Basin or Quarter Mile roads.
More information and a detailed map of the 100-acre Huling Branch reclamation project can be found on DCNR’s State Forest Roads and Trails Advisories webpage.
A complete listing of open roads, effective dates and district office telephone numbers can be obtained on DCNR’s White-tailed Deer in Pennsylvania’s Forests webpage.
Marcellus Shale information can be found on the Natural Gas Drilling on State Forests webpage.  
Camping opportunities and details can be found on both the Forestry and State Park webpages.

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