Then we have this power play to restrict the ability of the PGC and the PFBC to set regulation and or even complete land deals by the legislature:
////// Lots to this article and all should take the time to read it. ///
State Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Armstrong, and state Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, have fired the first salvo, and for sportsmen and sportswomen, it should be "the shot heard 'round the Commonwealth."
Much as the NRA likes to preach that the federal government wants to take away guns, the view from this tree stand is that the state government wants to take away your forest and wildlife habitat.
........the chances of the state legislature taking control of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission decision-making are increasing each day.
Already, due to political pressure and appointments, Gov. Tom Corbett's pro-drilling Marcellus Shale forces have a stronghold in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources leadership, opening up significant portions of state forest to speculative drilling, deforestation and proven groundwater pollution.
Now, Pyle and Scarnati — according to Monday's front page article in The Morning Call — want the endangered species laws to fall under legislative oversight, producing a time-consuming process that will delay response by PGC and PFBC to protect certain species and habitat.
Such decisions would fall under the purview of the Independent Regulatory Review Committee (IRRC), but the problem with something like IRRC taking control over anything related to wildlife, fish, water or the environment lies in its response time and reliance on the legislative branch for final approvals, which could delay for up to two years things that need to be done immediately.
Last fall, for example, the first-ever Pennsylvania cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) were verified in farm-raised deer in the central part of the Commonwealth. Within days, outgoing Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe issued an executive order listing more than 600 square miles of the state as a disease management area (DMA)...............
The proposed legislative oversight would more narrowly define the habitat range of suspected endangered species, theoretically opening up more public land for development. In the case of the Corbett administration, that translates to more Marcellus Shale exploration......
At least for me, when I need facts from the PGC or PFBC, as I did last December regarding the reclassification of the Saw Mill Run and its effect on reopening Firefly Hatchery (the old Kriss Pines Trout Hatchery near Lehighton) I received more than enough scientific information and had unfettered access to a wide variety of specialists on PFBC staff.
This proposal comes a week after the game commission announced it will begin the process of delisting bald eagles from the threatened species list. ......
Putting the decision under IRRC domain would unnecessarily lengthen the process and subject it to a political process.......
Some also fear that the move to introduce the IRRC and political process to PGC, PFBC and DCNR is the precursor to merging the agencies as a cost-cutting move, when in reality it would strip the agencies of the power to react in a timely manner.
The game commission proposes seasons and bag limits for the coming hunting and trapping seasons with the latest scientific evidence as it relates to the various species in January. The seasons and bag limits are posted in the Pennsylvania Bulletin for public and legislative awareness, and then finalized with a vote by the PGC board of commissioners during their regular April quarterly meeting.
If IRRC became involved, seasons and bag limits would have to be established up to two years in advance, paying no regard to what is actually happening with the population and habitat at the moment.
Three years ago, the PGC shut down Wildlife Management Unit 5C, which consists of most of Lehigh and Northampton counties, to fall turkey hunting because studies proved that overall numbers were low. Spring gobbler hunting was still allowed because it came after the breeding season.
Under IRRC restrictions, the game commission would not have been able to ban fall turkey hunting for another two years, .....
Sportsmen and sportswomen in Pennsylvania need to keep a very wary eye on Harrisburg in the coming weeks.