Re: PGC Cutting More Timber
Here's a report that Dan gave at the recent PFSC NE Division meeting. Near the end it talks alittle about timbering.
PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION
DANIEL FIGURED, DIRECTOR
The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s 30th Class of Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Cadets recently took up residence at the agency’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation, which adjoins the headquarters building along Elmerton Avenue in Harrisburg.
The class, comprising 29 men and two women, will undergo 50 weeks of exhaustive training, including field duty with veteran officers, before graduation in March 2015.
The Northeast Region currently has three vacant districts and anticipates at least two additional vacancies prior to the graduation of the 30th class.
The Northeast Regional recently nominated the following officers for “2013 Officer of the Year Awards:” The nominations are based on the officers work performance and job knowledge.
WCO David Allen Conservation Law Enforcement Chief’s Association
LMSG Michael Beahm Shikar-Safari Association
LMGS Michael Beahm NWTF “Joe Kurz, Wildlife Manager of the year” Award
WCO Mark Kropa NWTF “Officer of the Year” Award
The new Northeast Region office building will be erected on our existing property in Dallas. Construction is scheduled to begin in Mar., 2015 with final inspection to conclude in Mar., 2016.
During the construction process, we are not anticipating any long term conflicts with the daily operation of our existing regional office and plan on remaining open as usual until completion of the project.
PETER SUSSENBACH, SUPERVISOR
The prescribed fire program in the NE is one of the most economical and beneficial ways in which to impact large portions of forests that would prove difficult to manage using conventional methods. Thousands of acres of our oak forests are located on areas with poor soils and where small diameter trees are abundant. The trees located there become valueless from a commercial standpoint, so we are utilizing fire to start the regeneration process to enhance the habitat. We have over 3000 acres of prescribed fire operations planned for this year in the NE. SGLs slated for prescribed fire woodlands operations include SGL’s 040, 055, 058, 084, 091, 141, and 183. We are also entering into the final phases of the Barrens restoration and habitat improvement on Bethlehem Authority and SGL 038 in Monroe County. Approximately 500 acres remain to be burned, with outstanding successes already being observed in treated plots by hunters and wildlife viewers. To round out the list, SGLs 226, 219 and Area 414 at Beltzville will be undergoing prescribed fire operations in their native grass stands to eliminate woody invasive plant species, as well as improve diversity.
While much of the flood related impacts are behind us, SGL 057 still suffers from a road outage caused by the Tropical Storms Lee and Irene floods. That crew will be spending several months time repairing and relocating the roadway known as South Brook.
With the recent acquisition of nearly 3,800 acres in the Bear Creek area, crews have been planning and improving access, as well as delineating the boundary line for future management activities. Upcoming plans include extensive road upgrades for public access, fire break activities and food plot development.
Throughout much of the region, including the counties of Wayne, Lackawanna, Pike, Susquehanna, Monroe, Bradford, Northumberland and Luzerne counties our staff have spent a considerable amount of time dealing with various utility and gas line ROWs.
In each of these counties, new ROWs are being utilized to improve habitat, as well as providing new lands and revenue for the PGC. Without proper oversight, many of our management goals would be lost.
Thankfully, our staff of Land Management Officers and Game Lands Maintenance Supervisors is well versed in what can and cannot be done on these ROW’s and they have been completing their due diligence in these locations.
Finally, this year marks the largest amount of funding returned to the NE region from the NWTF. Nearly $23,000 dollars was returned to the NE to help us fund some important habitat work on game lands. This incredible partnership continues to energize the crews by supporting important projects that would be impossible to complete utilizing existing budgets.
MARK RUTKOWSKI, SUPERVISOR
Wildlife Conservation Officers and their deputies responded to 9,779 incidents in 13 counties during 2013. During patrols and investigations, they issued or filed 748 citation and 1,455 warnings for violations of the Game and Wildlife Code. The prosecution of those cases yielded a 95.1% conviction rate, demonstrating the professionalism and discretion PGC officers use when apprehending violators. Several of these cases resulted in criminal charges, including felons not to possess firearms, violations of the Drug and Cosmetic Act and driving while under the influence.
WCO Frank Dooley apprehended a New Jersey man after an extensive investigation with New Jersey Fish and Wildlife officers. The suspect held a woman at gunpoint for several hours demanding her to assist him in a night time shooting spree throughout Wayne Co. The suspect shot multiple deer from a vehicle while the woman was forced to hold a spotlight on wildlife. He was convicted of multiple game law charges and crimes code violations. He was sent back to NJ to complete incarceration on unrelated charges.
Luzerne County WCO David Allen apprehended a Wilkes-Barre man on SGL#187 in Denison Twp. while the man was actively growing 170 Marijuana plants in a wooded remote area of the game lands. Officers confiscated and destroyed nearly 200 pounds of Marijuana with a street value of $200,000. The defendant is awaiting trial.
Officers conducted several law enforcement details to curb the illegal operation of ATV’s on game lands and cooperative properties. The illegal use of these vehicles still remains in the top 5 violations officers encounter each year.
Law enforcement patrols were conducted on all PGC rifle ranges throughout the region. Officers look for non-compliance of shooting range regulations. The range patrols resulted in numerous violations with included failure to possess the current range permit or hunting license.
Bear and deer seasons showed a marked increase in the illegal use of bait or attractants to kill deer and bears. WCOs investigated and confiscated 9 bears that were either taken over bait, at night, or by other prohibited means.
During the month of November, region WCOs and deputies, along with state and local law enforcement, participated in the annual “Operation Talon” enforcement weekend. Operation Talon III was conducted during the recognized peak time of violation occurrences across the state.
During Operation Talon III, officers logged more than 700 hours using 119 officers using PA State Police air support to detect violations at night. Their enforcement efforts produced 66 LE contacts, resulting in 37 citations and 10 warnings. During one encounter, a PSP fixed wing aircraft spotted a late spotlight operating in Bradford County. PGC WCOs were dispatched to the area where they encountered the violator. While the WCOs attempted a vehicle stop, the violator fled from the officers at an extremely high rate of speed. The WCOs decided to terminate the pursuit due to safety concerns. Fortunately, the aircraft was able to continue to track the violator and a second attempt to get the vehicle stopped was made. Instead of stopping on demand of the officers, the violator rammed the WCO’s state car resulting in injuries to the officers and the suspect. The violator was taken into custody by the injured WCOs and is awaiting trail on those charges.
WCOs were not only busy with their law enforcement duties, but also responded to well over 1,200 nuisance bear incidents for 2013. They trapped and transferred 186 black bears, and removed 149 road killed bears from roads and highways.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS, SUPERVISOR
INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
Several Basic Hunter/Trapper Education classes have been scheduled throughout the region to meet demand indicated by analytic surveys. Class schedules and registration information are posted on the PGC web site.
There has been a marked increase in the number of HTE classes being offered in the NE Region during the past three years, with a subsequent increase in the number of HTE graduates. Conversion to the six-hour format last year and success of the Mentored Youth Program may be contributing factors.
Year # of Classes Graduates
2011 97 3576
2012 107 3899
2013 118 4192
Nine HTE Instructor Applicants attended a New HTE Instructor Orientation Workshop held at the NE Region Office on Mar. 08 as part of the application process. New HTE Instructor recruitment has been surpassing attrition for the past few years. However, there are some counties in dire need of new instructors. Lackawanna County is considered a “county of greatest need” for both new instructors and classes held. Recruitment efforts will be increased through District WCOs and the current HTE Instructor ranks.
Two Successful Turkey Hunting classes are scheduled to be conducted this spring. They are at the Troy Rod and Gun Club (Bradford) on Apr. 21 and PPL Wallenpaupack (Pike) on Jun. 21.
Information and Education Supervisor William Williams attended the National Archery in Schools (NASP) state tournament held at State College on Mar. 14.
The NE Region has been active in submitting articles/photos of local interest to the PGC Facebook page.
Officers of the NE Region manned an information display at the Early Bird Sports Expo held at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds from Feb. 23 – Feb. 26. A new PGC Information and Education trailer was utilized at the event and received positive reviews.
Timothy Conway, supervisor
Northeast Region’s Communication Center Updates
The CAD (computer aided dispatch), mobile CAD, and RMS (record management system) have been recently installed in all Land Management vehicles and issued to all regional supervisors which will improve communications and assistance/ response times to the public. This will also improve communications between dispatchers and field officers. The system is designed to provide a much needed record management for all calls handled daily, such as who initiated the call, when dispatched to the field, and the outcome of each call.
Rachel Degnan has been recently hired as a dispatcher in the region, replacing Barney Dobinick who retired after 25 years of dedicated service in September. Rachel comes with an extensive background in the communication field after working several years as a PA State Police Dispatcher out of the Dunmore Barracks.
Several new computer generated initiatives have been developed by the Bureau of Automated Technologies (BATS) to make daily operations and record keeping activities run smoother and more efficient for agency personnel. An Asset Management System has been created to keep track of all equipment and furnishings and a Workers Compensation System has been recently activated to track and maintain all work-related injuries that may occur within the Agency.
Initial planning and design for the new NER office is now underway.
Recent land acquisitions occurring in the region include a 170 +/- parcel located along the southwestern border of existing SGL 239, Bradford County. The land consists of both agriculture and forested lands and will be an excellent addition to our SGL system. Several other potential properties are currently being explored in Lackawanna, Wayne and Monroe Counties.
Warren E. Harris, Supervisor
Timber Sale Activity and Other Cutting Projects
There are 21 open cutting contracts in the Northeast Region. Harvesting is active on four of these areas. Seven contracts will expire or are expected to close out by June 30. There is one timber sale area with bids pending.
The marking and bid preparation is being completed on an additional four cutting areas that will be advertised for sale this fiscal year. The forestry unit’s annual accomplishments will exceed 14 cutting projects totaling over 1,676 acres.
Comprehensive Game Land’s Management Planning
The Forestry staff continues to perform the cover type mapping needed to complete the first round of Comprehensive Game Land’s Management Plans. Cover type mapping, planning meetings and management plan writing are an ongoing process that continues for multiple tracts of game lands at any given time
The Emerald Ash Borer continues to expand its range and will be a concern for the immediate future. I expect more counties in Northeast Pennsylvania to confirm the presence of the EAB this summer. A 270 acre commercial timber harvest on SGL 310 in southern Wayne County is being marked for advertisement this spring, and a large area on SGL 070 in northern Susquehanna County is being prepared for marking in the summer of 2015. Additional areas with a high component of ash are being investigated for potential harvesting on SGL 159 in Central Wayne County.
The Assistant Regional Forester position remains vacant. The position has been advertised three times since April 2013. The position will be advertised again in mid-April.
Two college students have been hired as summer forestry interns for the summer semester break. They will begin work in mid May.
Two three-year limited term Forest Technician positions have been posted for the NE Region. The Forest Technicians will be utilized to increase timber harvest with the goal of improving wildlife habitat.
Kevin Wenner, Supervisor
Four hundred and sixty one bears were harvested and processed at Northeast Region check stations during the statewide regular season and an additional 439 bears were harvested and processed at NE region bear check stations during extended season hunting. Forty five bears were harvested in the NE region during the statewide archery bear season. A total of 945 bears were harvested in the NE Region during 2013 bear season.
Approximately 450 hunter harvested samples were collected from white-tailed deer throughout the NE Region and submitted to the lab for testing as part of PGC annual CWD surveillance efforts. Results of those submissions have not been received at this time.
Ten properties covering 6461 acres were consulted for wildlife habitat recommendations and development of management plans by the Northeast Region Wildlife Diversity Biologist, focusing on improving those lands for species of concern through the Private Landowner’s Assistance Program.
Comprehensive Game Land’s Management Plans were completed on SGL 13, 159, 165, 221, 239.
Surveys to detect Snowshoe Hare abundance across portions of SGL 38 and Bethlehem Water Authority were completed again this winter to gauge Snowshoe Hare use of scrub oak barrens habitat where mechanical and prescribed fire treatments are restoring the scrub oak barrens.
A PSU grad student is currently trapping and radio collaring snowshoe hares as part of a two-year study to monitor hare survival and evaluate seasonal use of hare habitat and response to habitat treatments. Twenty three hares have been captured in the NE study area Similar surveys are being conducted on northern hardwood forests in the Northwest Region managed with silvicultural treatments in an effort to better understand this species prevalence across the northern tier and its population response to habitat treatments. Nine hares have been collared in the NW study area.
The 2014 Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area flushing surveys were not completed in February 2014 due to snow depth and inability to utilize bird dogs and volunteers to conduct these surveys.
Field necropsies were conducted on one black bear, two white-tailed deer, and two wild turkeys as part of statewide wildlife disease monitoring efforts. NE region has submitted several eagle carcasses to University of Georgia as part of a lead morbidity and mortality study evaluating the impacts of lead on eagles. White Nose Syndrome is the only currently identified wildlife disease epidemic currently impacting the NE Region.
Bat hibernacula surveys conducted biannually since the onset of WNS were recently completed in the NE. While populations have declined > 99% since WNS arrived, 2014 surveys indicate bat numbers appear stable and comparable with 2012 survey results. Many of these remaining bats still evidence the fungus associated with WNS and its undetermined if they are developing any resistance to the negative impacts of WNS. Too early to determine but hopefully this is a sign of some survivors that could begin to slowly rebuild bat populations. It’s estimated it could take several centuries for bat numbers to rebound to what they had been pre-WNS.
Winter black duck banding efforts conducted this winter have resulted in the banding of 24 mallards as part of ongoing effort to monitor black duck populations, a PA waterfowl species of concern due to hybridization with mallard and loss of habitat. Unfortunately, no black ducks were banded thus far.