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GC Release - Meeting Results Land Issues

Release #009-12

Jan. 24, 2012


The following news release contains four articles related to Board action on Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management agenda items:



<span style="font-weight: bold">1) BOARD APPROVES PURCHASES LAND IN THREE COUNTIES

2) BOARD APPROVES TWO LAND EXCHANGES

3) GAME COMMISSION REPORTS ON TAX SALE AND AUCTION PURCHASES

4) GREENE COUNTY STATE GAME LAND METHANE GAS SALE APPROVED</span>




BOARD APPROVES PURCHASES LAND IN THREE COUNTIES

HARRISBURG Ė The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved three purchases of land in Berks, Franklin and Luzerne counties that will increase the State Game Lands network.


In Berks County, the Game Commission purchased 27 acres in Albany Township from Lennia Kutz for $42,120. There had been much interest expressed by the National Wild Turkey Federation and local sportsmenís groups to contribute to the purchase of this property, which will become part of State Game Land 106. The remainder will be paid from third-party commitments for compensation of habitat and recreational losses. The property is forested with red maple, yellow poplar and black birch.


In Franklin County, the Board approved the purchase of 60 acres in St. Thomas Township from Ricky and Arlin Wadel for $117,436, which will be paid from the Game Fund. This indenture into State Game Land 235 is forested with red maple, black birch, white pine, chestnut oak and hemlock with an understory of witch hazel and mountain laurel. Broad Run, which is a Class A Wild Trout Stream, runs through the northwest corner of the property.


In Luzerne County, the Board approved the purchase of 406.55 acres in Hanover and Fairview townships from the Earth Conservancy for $243,930, which will be paid for with third party commitments for compensation of habitat and recreational losses.


Under the agreement, the Earth Conservancy has opted to reserves all coal, oil, gas and other minerals, excluding uranium or any other radioactive minerals. However, the agreement stipulates that the Earth Conservancy will not enter into any sale or lease for removal of coal, oil, gas or other minerals through the surface without the written consent of the Game Commission.


The agreement also states that the coal, oil, gas and other mineral rights will revert to the Game Commission after Jan. 1, 2032, and 50 percent of any future revenues received by the Game Commission from the sale of the coal, oil, gas and other minerals rights will be paid to the Earth Conservancy.


The property is forested with mixed oak on top of the mountain and northern hardwoods in the lower areas with blueberry in the understory. The timber has been cut in some areas with early successional habitat resulting.





BOARD APPROVES TWO LAND EXCHANGES

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners approved two land exchanges impacting State Game Lands in Somerset and Elk counties.


In Somerset County, the Board approved a two-part exchange agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in which the Game Commission will receive a total of 112.078 acres of land in Somerset and Black townships adjacent to and part of State Game Land 50. The property being added to SGL 50 contains mixed hardwoods recovering from a clear-cut with two small old reverting fields, as well as a right-of-way owned by PennDOT that cuts through a forested wetland on a portion of SGL 50. Also, a small tributary (headwaters to Laurel Run) runs through a section of the property. Included in the total acreage transferred to the Game Commission is a 25.19-acre land bank to offset future highway construction projects with minimal impacts to State Game Lands.


In exchange, PennDOT will receive a 22.14-acre portion of State Game Land 50 needed to avoid a forested wetland so that the US Route 219 improvement project can move forward. PennDOT needs 18.84 acres of the 22.14 acres for a highway right-of-way; 2.33 acres for a temporary construction easement; and 0.97 acres for occasional sedimentation control easement.


In Elk County, the Board has approved an exchange with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), in which the Game Commission will receive 291.43 acres of Elk State Forest in Benezette Township that will become part of SGL 311. In exchange, DCNR will receive 291.36 acres that will become part of Elk State Forest.


The Game Commission and DCNR negotiated this exchange to enhance the two separate agenciesí abilities to meet their independent objectives and benefit the general publicís use of these lands. The tract of SGL 311 being conveyed to DCNR is detached from the main portioned of the SGL and adjoins Elk State Forest. The tract being transferred from DCNR that will become part of SGL 311 will reduce the Game Commissionís future boundary line maintenance and enhance the Game Commissionís elk habitat management goals.


The exchange also will help DCNR alleviate an existing dangerous condition where horseback riding has been occurring along a narrow busy section of Route 555. No horse trails are on the acreage being conveyed to the Game Commission.


Both tracts are forested, and the acreage DCNR is transferring to the Game Commission has three herbaceous openings currently maintained by the Game Commissionís Food and Cover Corps.





GAME COMMISSION REPORTS ON TAX SALE AND AUCTION PURCHASES

Utilizing authority given by the Board of Game Commissioners to protect the integrity of State Game Lands, Pennsylvania Game Commission staff recently acquired land and mineral interests involving State Game Lands 79 and 108 in Cambria County and SGL 88 in Juniata County.


On Aug. 19, Game Commission staff successfully acquired 2,451 acres of fractional minerals interests for $77,272.50, on nine tracts in Blacklick, Reade and Dean townships in Cambria County, which involve SGLs 79 and 108.


On Aug. 26, 2011, the Game Commissionís Southcentral Region notified the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management that the Estate of George M. Stewart was offering for sale five separate tracts of land totaling 369 acres in Spruce Hill Township, Juniata County, at a public auction on Sept. 24. As the property adjoins SGL 88, the Game Commission was able to win the bid for one of the parcels Ė a 65.96-acre tract Ė for $400,000, which was paid with escrowed funds from the land exchange on SGL 176 with the Pennsylvania State University and required approval from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.


The property, on the northern slope of Tuscarora Mountain, provides access to a large portion of SGL 88, which previously was inaccessible. A five-acre portion of the tract is an herbaceous opening currently managed as a hayfield. A diverse hardwood forest is present with hickory, white oak, red maple, black birch, sugar maple, tulip poplar with a scattering of conifers. Headwaters of an unnamed creek flow through the property.





GREENE COUNTY STATE GAME LAND METHANE GAS SALE APPROVED

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved an agreement with Alpha Natural Resources (Alpha) to market natural methane gas from an existing underground mine vent borehole from under a portion of State Game Land 223 in Greene County.


Alpha drilled the borehole for the purpose of venting gas into the atmosphere to protect underground coal mine workers. Alpha has the right to drill boreholes under mining regulations for the safety of miners.


The only surface disturbance for the project will consist of the installation of about 1,100 feet of two-inch diameter gas line, which will generally follow the existing access road. The agreement will be limited to the vent borehole.


Alpha will pay the Game Commission a 12.5 percent royalty of the wellhead price per MCF of gas produced and sold from the existing vent borehole. All royalty proceeds shall be deposited into the Game Fund.


Development will be regulated by the Commonwealthís oil and gas regulations and the Commissionís standard gas production agreement. The agreement will include the Commissionís standard wildlife and protection measures.


Alpha currently owns 1,100 acres of surface lands in Greene County, which are enrolled in the Hunter Access Program.



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