The text in blue below comes from an Associated Press article by LYNN OLANOFF, The (Easton) Express-Times.
A rule change is under consideration by the PA Game Commission that would affect hiker use of State Game Lands. The two items of major concern are:
--Totally banning hiking on State Game Lands during the principal hunting seasons
--Requiring that hikers obtain a permit for State Game Lands hiking during the rest of the year. Of course, "hiking" would include trail running, so this might affect YOU.
Here is a link to the proposed rule. You definitely should click over there to actually read the language yourself before reacting.
After the end of the AP article I'll include a copy of my emailed comments back to the PA Game Commission (PGC). Feel free to borrow or steal any of my words. You may email comments to the PGC here.
I’m a long-time hiker, and volunteer trail maintainer with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). I am the overseer of the Reese Hollow Shelter and Trail—open to the hiking public--which are part of PATC’s Little Cove Cabin tract west of Mercersburg, PA.
I’m really concerned about this proposal for permits being required, because at Little Cove, the PATC property is literally surrounded by State Games Lands # 124. We maintain multiple trails cross our property, and by agreement with PGC even maintain an adjacent Hunter Access Trail totally on State Game Lands. But half a mile in any direction will take you from PATC property to SGL property. This would be a major issue for our cabin users, who go there to hike and to experience Penn’s Woods.
I focus on this property because it’s where I volunteer, but my concerns are valid throughout the entire state. Here are my principal concerns:
1. What exactly is the problem that PGC is trying to solve? In other words, what specifically is wrong with the status quo that necessitates PGC considering this action? I don’t see that articulated in the PGC proposal. If, for example, PGC perceives a safety concern with non-hunters being in the woods during hunting season without wearing orange blazing, that solution would seem to be a totally different issue than requiring permits.
2. The Tuscarora Trail should be added to the list of major through hiking trails.
3. If this permitting comes to pass, how will the target population of non-hunters become aware of these rules? There is no mention of penalties if a hiker fails to have the proper permit. What about enforcement—does PGC have a handle on how much workload this might add to its conservation officers? For example, I recently called the PGC about a dead hawk I found in a cardboard box beside the road. It took a week for an officer to even make telephone contact with me. I think they already have plenty of duties.
4. And here’s another possible unintended consequence: it seems that PGC would have to invest a ton of money in signage and boundary notifications to ensure that people would know that they are entering State Game Lands where hiking permits are required. Also the costs of the permitting process itself would seem to be non-trivial.