Game lands driving tours kick off this weekend.
Harrisburg, PA -(AmmoLand.com)- Those looking to gain perspective into Pennsylvania’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage will have several opportunities in the coming weeks to take one or more tours being offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The first of these tours, be held in cooperation with Clear Creek State Park in Jefferson County, is scheduled for Saturday. The remainder of the tours will be held on Sundays in the month of October. The tours provide an opportunity to talk with personnel directly responsible for managing and protecting game lands, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for those taking driving tours on some tracts.
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the tours provide an opportunity for the public to see the many things being accomplished for wildlife and for Pennsylvania’s hunters.
“We’re extremely proud of our state game lands, and these tours are a great way for us to show them off, and for Pennsylvanians to spend some time enjoying the beauty game lands possess, and learning more about why game lands exist and all of the things we do on game lands to benefit wildlife.”
The state game lands system has a long history in Pennsylvania. The Game Commission in 1919 was granted authority to purchase lands for the protection, propagation and management of wildlife, and provide areas for public hunting and trapping. Today, there are nearly 1.5 million acres of state game lands statewide.
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 the federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, known as the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program; from Working Together for Wildlife artwork and patch sales; and from the Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management stamp and print sales.
Information on the tours is as follows:
GAME LANDS TOURS
SATURDAY, SEPT. 12
- Jefferson County: Saturday, Sept. 12, State Game Lands 266. This driving/walking tour of State Game Lands 266 is being led by Game Commission Land Management Officer George Miller and focuses on ruffed grouse. Become familiar with key components of good grouse habitat. Miller will answer your questions about food, cover and grouse in general. Sign up to carpool or follow the caravan. Meet at the Clear Creek State Park amphitheater at 9:30 a.m. The program will last approximately two hours as the tour travels from the amphitheater to Corsica. This is a great opportunity to explore a state game lands and learn how it is managed.
SUNDAY, OCT. 4
- Bradford County: Sunday, Oct. 4, State Game Lands 12, from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. (rain or shine). This is a 28-mile, self-guided, circular driving tour through State Game Lands 12, and will take about two hours to complete. State Game Lands 12 consists of nearly 24,480 acres in Bradford County. The route will start at the game lands parking lot on top of Wheelerville Mountain on state Route 154, just south of Canton, Bradford County. Roads are passable for most vehicles, four-wheel drive is not needed but a good ground clearance is advised. The route travels east to the Barclay Cemetery, then down the hill to Laquin before turning west onto the railroad grade to Wheelerville. The tour ends at the intersection with state Route 154 in Wheelerville. From there, those on the tour can travel north on state Route 154 to Canton, or south to Shunk in Sullivan County. The tour goes by Sunfish Pond County Park so a picnic lunch may be the order of the day! Those taking the tour are sure to find the local history of the mountain and the Game Commission’s refuge system intriguing. A pocket guide full of historical information and photographs will be provided to each vehicle at the start of the tour.
- Carbon County: Sunday, Oct. 4, State Game Lands 141, which consists of nearly 17,048 acres. Registration will be held from 9 a.m. until noon at the large parking lot along state Route 93 on State Game Lands 141, Nesquehoning Township. 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 recommended for this 9-mile, self-guided driving tour. The tour will begin at the large parking area on the east side state Route 93 and travels east on a game lands road toward the Lehigh Gorge State Park, and back to state Route 93, exiting at the parking lot across from the game lands shooting range. The tour will pass habitat-improvement projects completed by the game lands Food and Cover Corps crew located in Carbon County, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. Directions: Take state Route 93 north from state Route 209 and proceed 3.5 miles and turn right into the parking lot. Proceed through the gate on a dirt road. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife and habitat management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land.
SUNDAY, OCT. 11
- Bedford and Blair counties: Sunday, Oct. 11, from noon to 3 p.m., State Game Lands 26, which encompasses 12,062 acres in a four-county area. This popular tour highlights mountainous terrain and fall foliage. The 7-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. Tour participants can scan the scenery for mounted wildlife specimens strategically placed along the route, as well as identification tags placed on examples of tree and shrubs beneficial to wildlife. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to answer questions relating to Game Commission programs and activities.
- Luzerne and Wyoming counties: Sunday, Oct. 11, State Game Lands 57, which consists of nearly 44,600 acres. Registration to be held from 7:30 a.m. until noon at the headquarters building complex on State Game Lands 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 required for this 30-mile, self-guided driving tour. The tour will pass habitat-improvement projects completed by the State Game Lands 57 Food and Cover Corps crew, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation, Whitetails Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. Directions: Take state Route 487 north from state Route 118 and proceed 7.5 miles. Turn right onto the dirt road near the game lands sign on the right. Travel 0.1 miles to “Y” intersection and proceed 0.3 miles to the headquarters complex. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife and habitat-management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land.
SUNDAY, OCT. 18
- Berks and Schuylkill counties: Sunday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A vehicle tour of State Game Lands 110, which encompasses nearly 10,150 acres of historical, scenic and recreational property. The 9-mile trip will begin at the agency’s parking lot on Mountain Road, midway between the Shartlesville exit of Interstate 78 and Route 61. The tour 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 and Lebanon counties: Sunday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Lands 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, 7 miles east of the Borough of Dauphin. Follow the road along Stony Creek to the gated entrance to the interior of the game lands, which will be staffed by Game Commission personnel. The one-way (easterly) 17-mile trip will be made along an abandoned railroad bed, and will exit on to Goldmine Road in Lebanon County. Additional Game Commission personnel will be on hand at the tour stops to answer questions. For interested parties an optional guided walking tour of the old Cold Springs Hotel site will be offered.
SUNDAY, OCT. 25
- Warren County: Sunday, Oct. 25, State Game Lands 29. The Pennsylvania Game Commission will hold a guided, public tour of State Game Lands 29, located approximately 12 miles south of the City of Warren, off Pleasant Drive. State Game Lands 29 encompasses 9,831 contiguous acres. This will be a guided, driving tour to last approximately three hours, with various stops along the route to view and discuss infrastructure projects and practices for managing wildlife habitat. Only licensed and registered passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs will be permitted access to the tour route. ATVs and ORVs will not be permitted. Game Lands Tour participants should plan to meet promptly at 11 a.m. at the Tower Gate parking area, located approximately one-half mile off Pleasant Drive, at the end of Radio Tower Road. The GPS coordinates for the meeting location are (N- 41.735376 W- 79.253771).
About Pennsylvania Game Commission:
For more than 100 years, the Game Commission has managed the Commonwealth’s wildlife resources for all Pennsylvanians. With the help of more than 700 full-time employees and thousands of part-timers and volunteers, the agency provides a host of benefits to wildlife, state residents and visitors.
For more information, visit: www.pgc.state.pa.us.