Pa Game Commission To Hold State Game Land Tours For Public

Pa Game Commission To Hold State Game Land Tours For Public

Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Game Commission

HARRISBURG, Pa –-( As part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s efforts to highlight its ongoing habitat improvement initiatives, the public is invited to take part in upcoming tours of several State Game Lands between Sept. 20 and Oct. 18. All tours are free.

“State Game Land tours provide the opportunity for those who enjoy nature to come out and talk with our employees – the people who are directly responsible for managing and protecting these lands,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “With autumn nearly here, these tours will provide a chance to see some of the best scenery the Commonwealth has to offer. These tours afford hunters and trappers and others who appreciate wildlife the opportunity to see how the Game Commission is spending hunting and furtaker license fees to acquire and to manage these lands for wildlife.”

Roe noted that staff shortages and limited financial resources forced a reduction in the number of State Game Land tours this year.

“Recognizing the benefit of the tours, the agency has maintained some tours,” Roe said. “It was a difficult decision to scale back on the number of tours we offer this year. However, the agency’s current financial situation required that we make tough choices.”

In 1919, the Game Commission was granted authority to purchase lands for the protection, propagation and management of game and wildlife, and to provide areas for public hunting and trapping. Since that time, the Game Commission has acquired more than 1.4 million acres in 65 of the state’s 67 counties (Philadelphia and Delaware counties being the exceptions).

With few exceptions, State Game Lands were purchased using revenues from hunting and furtaker license sales; State Game Lands timber, coal, oil, gas and mineral operation revenues; the state’s share of a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, known as the Pittman-Robertson Program; from Working Together for Wildlife artwork and patch sales; and from the Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management stamp and print sales.

Information on the various tours is as follows:

Warren County: Sunday, Sept. 20, State Game Land 143, which encompasses 8,261 acres. At 11 a.m., tour participants will meet at Route 27, at the Blue Eye Gate, just east of Garland. This will be a driving tour and will involve stops to view various habitat management practices and projects. Cars will be suitable for this tour.

McKean County: Saturday, Sept. 20, State Game Land 62, between Mt Jewett and Ormsby, adjacent to Kinzua Bridge State Park. SGL 62 consists of 1,526 acres. Tour participants should gather at 1 p.m. at the Game Commission booth at the Kinzua Bridge Park Fall Festival. From there the group will use their own vehicle to travel 1.5 miles to the McKean County SGL headquarters. The group will travel on some short walks and some short drives through SGL 62 to see food plots, warm season grasses, aspen cuts, timber harvests, fruit tree plantings, Pennsylvania Conservation Crew projects, the Kinzua Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation projects and other habitat work done on this SGL. The tour will last about two hours, ending at the Game Commission Food and Cover headquarters, where equipment used to implement habitat improvements will be on display.

Bradford County: Sunday, Oct. 4, from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. (rain or shine). This will be a 28-mile, self-guided, circular driving tour through State Game Lands 12 and 36, and will take about two hours to complete. SGL 12 consists of nearly 24,480 acres in Bradford and Sullivan counties, and SGL 36 is comprised of 18,987 acres in Bradford County. The route will start at the SGL 12 parking lot on top of Wheelerville Mountain along Route 154 just south of Canton, Bradford County. Roads are passable for most vehicles. It will go along East to the Barkley cemetery area than down the hill to Laquin area turning west onto the railroad grade to Wheelerville. Once you reach Wheelerville you will come to a “T” in the road, which is SR 154, and marks the end of the tour. You could go north along SR 154 to Canton, or south along SR 154 to Shunk and points south in Sullivan County. Since the tour goes by Sunfish Pond County Park, a picnic lunch may be the order of the day! The local history of the mountain and the Game Commission’s refuge system is intriguing. A tour guide packet that is full of information and old Game Commission photographs will be given to each vehicle at the start of the tour.

Westmoreland County: Sunday, Oct. 4, State Game Land 42, consisting of about 15,600 acres, from noon until 3 p.m. This will be a self-guided, nine-mile circular driving tour through SGL 42 that will begin and end at the SGL maintenance building off of Furnace Lane, just outside of New Florence. Tour participants will be able to view Game Commission habitat equipment, habitat improvement projects and plantings on the SGLs, forestry practices and fencing areas, gas well sites, and a historic iron ore furnace along the route. Game Commission personnel will be on hand at various stops along the route to explain various aspects of the habitat and work being done on SGL 42. The tour is free, and traverses the picturesque Laurel Ridge with some magnificent views along the route of the surrounding countryside. Children will enjoy a stop on this tour where they can see and touch some of the furs, skulls and mounts of local wildlife found in the area. Each tour participant will be provided a brochure with directions and information about various features along the tour route. A high-ground clearance vehicle is a must for this tour. Directions to SGL 42 maintenance building: From New Florence, take State Route 711 south and turn left onto Furnace Lane at the edge of town. On Furnace Lane, travel about one mile to the stop sign at the intersection with Boswell Road. Bear right at the stop and travel across a small bridge and turn right at the SGL sign. Follow this road about eight-tenths of a mile through the SGL gate and you will see the maintenance building on the left.

Bedford/Blair counties: Sunday, Oct. 11, from noon to 3 p.m., State Game Land 26, which encompasses 12,062 acres in a four-county area. This popular tour highlights mountainous terrain and fall foliage. The seven-mile, self-guided auto tour begins at the parking area on the northeast side of Route 869, between Pavia and Beaverdale, and concludes near the village of Blue Knob. Youngsters will enjoy the opportunity to locate and identify mounted wildlife specimens placed in their natural habitat along the drive. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to answer questions relating to Game Commission programs and activities.

Luzerne/Wyoming counties: Sunday, Oct. 11, State Game Land 57, which consists of nearly 44,650 acres. Registration to be held from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the headquarters building complex on SGL 57, Ricketts Station, Forkston Township, Wyoming County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat improvement projects. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance are strongly recommended for this three-hour, 30-mile, self-guided driving tour. Directions: Take Route 487 north at the intersection of Route 118 and proceed 7.5 miles and turn onto a dirt road near SGL sign on right. Travel on dirt road one-tenth of a mile to a “Y” intersection and proceed left three-tenths of a mile to the headquarters complex. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land.

Berks/Schuylkill counties: Sunday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Land 110, which encompasses nearly 10,150 acres of historical, scenic and recreational property in a two-county area. The nine-mile trip will begin at the agency’s parking lot on Mountain Road, midway between the Shartlesville Exit of Interstate 78 and Route 61; and will exit onto Route 183, north of Strausstown. Game Commission Officers will be on hand to answer questions relating to Game Commission programs and activities.

Dauphin/Lebanon counties: Sunday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Land 211, which encompasses more than 44,400 acres in a three-county area. The tour will start at the Ellendale gate in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County, just northeast of Dauphin Borough. The 19-mile trip will be made along an abandoned railroad bed, and will end at Goldmine Road in Lebanon County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat improvement projects.

Facts from the Pennsylvania Game Commission: During the 2007-08 fiscal year, state law required the Game Commission to spend a minimum of $5,338,377 on habitat improvement projects. Demonstrating its understanding and commitment to habitat improvement, the Game Commission spent a total of $6,299,116, which exceeded the legislative mandate by $960,739.