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Board of Game Commissioners To Meet on July 18 and 19, 2016.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will hold its third quarterly meeting of 2016, July 18 and 19, in the agency's Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. A link to a live stream of the meeting is scheduled to be available from the agency home page during the event. The live stream is scheduled to begin after the public comment period. A recording of the event should be available for 30 days on the Game Commission's Livestream channel; you'll need to register for a free account to view the recording. An agenda will be posted about two weeks prior to the event.

Tentative Schedule:

On Monday, July 18, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Board will hear any public comments followed by Game Commission staff reports. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. Individuals interested in offering public testimony – limited to five minutes – may begin to register at noon on a first-come, first-to-speak basis. PowerPoint presentations will not be permitted during public comment.

On Tuesday, July 19, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Board will take up its prepared agenda. Doors open at 7:45 a.m.

2016 Board meetings also are scheduled for: Sept. 19 and 20.
 

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07/13/2016

COMMISSIONERS TO MEET IN HARRISBURG


HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners is scheduled to meet July 18 and 19 at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.

Both meetings are slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. Doors open at 7:45 a.m.

The Monday, July 18 meeting will begin with a public-comment session. Individuals interested in offering public testimony – limited to five minutes – may register on a first-come, first-to-speak basis. PowerPoint presentations are not permitted during the public-comment period.

On Tuesday, July 19 the board will take up its regular agenda.

The agenda for the July meeting is available at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov. Under the “Quick Clicks” headline on the homepage, select “Meetings of the Board & Upcoming Events,” then click the link labeled “Agenda.”

The Game Commission’s headquarters is located at 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

The July 18 and 19 meetings WILL NOT be live-streamed, but will be made available at a later date on the Game Commission’s YouTube channel.
 

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AMENDED DRONE BAN ADOPTED

Measure will prohibit launching or landing unmanned aircraft on Game Commission-controlled property.



The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today took action to better protect wildlife from unnecessary disturbances on game lands and other property controlled by the Game Commission.

The board voted unanimously to prohibit on Game Commission-controlled property the operation, control, launching or retrieval of drones.

The recreational flying of drones rapidly has gained in popularity, and as it has, the number of cases where drones have caused concern for wildlife has increased as well.

During the snow-goose migration season at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area this year, for instance, Game Commission staff detected at least five instances where drones disturbed wildlife. In one case, a drone was flown into an off-limits propagation area that serves as a sanctuary for resting waterfowl, and another disturbance caused hundreds of waterfowl to suddenly flush. There also were reports of drones being flown close to bald-eagle nests, which causes an obvious risk to eagles and their eggs.

Clearly, this type of activity runs counter to the intended use of properties like Middle Creek and other tracts of state game lands owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The Board of Game Commissioners in April gave preliminary approval to a proposal to ban the flying of unmanned aerial vehicles over lands or waters designated as state game lands. The measure was amended after a legal review by the state Attorney General’s office, which said only the federal government has the authority to regulate airspace.

The amended proposal, which was given final approval today, prohibits the operation, control, launching or retrieval of drones on game lands, unless a specific exception is approved in writing by the Game Commission’s executive director.

The ban is expected to take effect in the coming weeks, after a legal review of the regulation.



SUNDAY USE OF GAME COMMISSION RANGES COULD EXPAND

Board preliminarily approves longer Sunday hours throughout deer and bear seasons.



Shooting ranges on state game lands soon could be open longer on Sundays before and within the firearms deer and bear seasons.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a measure that calls for ranges to remain open from 8 a.m. to sunset on the Sundays immediately preceding, and any Sundays throughout the duration of the firearms deer and firearms bear seasons.

The measure will be brought back to the September meeting for a final vote.

As it is now, shooting ranges on game lands, are open from noon to sunset each Sunday, except the Sundays immediately preceding the firearms deer and firearms bear seasons, when ranges are open from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Regular Monday-through-Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to sunset.

Commissioners said the expansion of Sunday hours, while minor, creates a convenience for hunters who might find themselves pressed for time to adjust sights or scopes on firearms at the height of the hunting season.

The measure also strengthens safety provisions by prohibiting the possession or discharge of a loaded firearm anywhere on the range while another person is downrange.

Intentionally shooting at or damaging the frames or stands constructed to mount permanent target backboards also would be prohibited if the measure receives final approval.





COMMISSIONERS EMPHASIZE DEER CONTROL THROUGH HUNTING

Provision requires deer-control permit holders to consider hunters first.



Municipalities and other political subdivisions that request permits to manage deer populations will need to more strongly consider managing deer through hunting before gaining approval to use another method.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a series of amendments to the application process for special deer-control permits.

As part of the background information on deer populations and damage that permit applicants are required to submit, applicants will be asked to specifically define how licensed public hunting has been used in the problem area previously, and how it will be used during the period the permit would be valid.

Commissioners said the measure helps to ensure hunters have an opportunity to manage deer on properties where high deer populations have created problems.

Speaking for the board, President Commissioner Brian Hoover, of Glenolden, said keeping the Pennsylvania hunter as part of the process “always is No. 1 in our minds.”





DISABLED VETERANS’ HUNTS APPROVED

One shooting day at each Middle Creek, Pymatuning to be designated.



The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a measure that allows the Game Commission’s executive director to designate one shooting day at each the Middle Creek and Pymatuning Wildlife Management Areas as open only to veterans with disabilities.

Participants will be selected by a random drawing, and only those who qualify for and possess a disabled veteran license can apply. Successful applicants who participate in the hunt will be permitted to bring along three guests, so long as they possess proper general or base hunting licenses.

Pymatuning will conduct a Veterans With Disabilities Hunt in the 2016-17 season, and Middle Creek is expected to conduct its first at a later time after pit blinds there are made wheelchair-accessible.

A date for the Pymatuning hunt will be announced at a later date. Applications for the Pymatuning hunt are available online at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov, as well as in the Goose Blind Application page in the 2016-17 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.





PORCUPINE RECLASSIFIED AS A FURBEARER

Provision could allow porcupines to be hunted or trapped, with proper licenses.



The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to reclassifying the porcupine as a furbearer.

The change will allow for porcupines to be trapped, as well as hunted. A porcupine trapping season has not been implemented for the 2016-17 license year, and commissioners said previously one would be implemented in future seasons only if staff recommends a trapping season.

Jeff Grove, the local government affairs director for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, on Monday addressed the commissioners and expressed the Farm Bureau’s support of the reclassification. Porcupines occasionally chew on and damage vehicle and equipment parts, especially in the winter when salt builds up on roads, and reclassifying them as furbearers will provide for additional control methods, he said.

Based on the proposal, license requirements for hunting and trapping of porcupines would mirror those for coyotes. Porcupines could be hunted by those possessing either a hunting or furtaker license, and could be trapped by furtakers, as well, during established seasons.





RESOLUTIONS MAKE STANCES CLEAR

Board voices support, opposition for state and federal initiatives.



The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today adopted two resolutions, taking formal stances on state and federal initiatives regarding wildlife management.

The board made formal its support for recent recommendations put forth by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. The panel is asking Congress to annually dedicate to the states and territories $1.3 billion of existing revenue from development of energy and mineral resources, with the money used to help thousands of fish and wildlife species in trouble.

The board further resolved to encourage state fish and wildlife agencies across the country to support the initiative.

The board also adopted a resolution opposing recently introduced House Bills 2083 and 1720, which call for a transition to separate antlered and antlerless deer seasons, and a switch to a controversial and untested method of white-tailed deer management known as maximum sustained yield.

The resolution notes the bills, neither of which has made it out of committee, would place decisions on deer-management in the hands of a few special-interest groups, and take hunters and trappers out of the process, even though they’d fund it.

The resolution also states concerns the bills would lead to the exponential increase of chronic wasting disease across the state, and the implementation of either bill would constitute an improper diversion of hunting and furtaker license dollars that would preclude the Game Commission from accessing federal Pittman-Robertson funds, a source of $24 million of revenue to the Game Commission in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Both resolutions passed unanimously.





COMMISSIONERS ANNOUNCE FUTURE MEETING DATES



The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will reconvene at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters Monday, Aug. 29 at 8 a.m. for a working group meeting.

Working group meetings allow for an exchange between the Board of Game Commissioners and Game Commission staff ahead of the regular quarterly meetings. The meetings are open to the public, but public comments are not accepted.

The next quarterly meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners is scheduled to be held on Monday, Sept. 19 and Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters. Both meetings begin at 8:30 a.m.
 

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RIGHT-OF-WAY AGREEMENT ADDS ACREAGE TO GAME LANDS



Two state game lands tracts will grow by about 120 acres each through an agreement with the Transcontintal Gas Pipe Line Co. (TRANSCO).

State Game Lands 168 will pick up about 117 acres adjacent to the game lands in Eldred Township, Monroe County, and State Game Lands 300 will grow by about 120 acres in Jefferson Township, Lackawanna County.

The acreage is being acquired in exchange for a license for right-of-way that will allow TRANSCO to construct, operate, maintain and remove a 42-inch natural-gas pipeline across a portion of State Game Lands 211 in Union Township, Lebanon County.

In addition to conveying the parcels to the Game Commission, TRANSCO will pay the agency’s standard habitat, surface and timber damages, as well as its standard annual license fee for as long as the license remains active.

The Monroe County parcel offered by TRANSCO is located in the Aquashicola Creek watershed, and contains the headwaters of an unnamed tributary. The habitat is primarily mature forest with stands of white pine, hemlock, Norway spruce, hickory, red oak, poplar, black gum and black birch. The understory is comprised of witch-hazel, dogwood and black haw. Access is available by way of Camp Wind Gap Drive, south of Upper Smith Gap Road.

The Lackawanna County parcel is located in the Lackawanna River watershed, and contains the headwaters of White Oak Run and Laurel Run. The habitat is primarily a mature oak-maple forest along with some limited scrub oak, and the understory is comprised of bracken fern and sassafras. Access to the property is limited to existing state game lands roads, from the east off Archibald Mountain Road. Both properties will serve to reduce the acreage of indentures into these game lands.

The license will authorize 1,320 linear feet of 42-inch natural gas pipeline within a new 50-foot wide right-of-way, occupying 1.52 acres of State Game Lands 211, immediately adjacent to the southern boundary. TRANSCO will use and reclaim an additional 1.32 acres of game lands outside of this right-of-way during construction and reclamation.

The pipeline crosses the Appalachian Trail (AT) on state game lands, and TRANSCO will be installing that crossing via a conventional bore, thereby avoiding any surface impacts for a minimum of 107 feet on either side of the AT.

As a result, 0.25 acres of the 1.52 acres of the licensed right-of-way will not sustain any surface impacts whatsoever. In addition, TRANSCO will implement an extensive reclamation plan within 1.80 acres of the temporary workspace and portions of the right-of-way to include a variety of tree and shrub plantings.

The Board of Game Commissioners approved the exchange unanimously.





DONATIONS ADD TO GAME LANDS, PROVIDE RIGHT-OF-WAY, INTERESTS



State Game Lands 33 will grow by more than 171 acres thanks to a land donation by the Woodduck Chapter of Trout Unlimited, approved today by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners.

The property, which is located in Rush Township, Centre County and adjoins the existing game lands, mostly is forested with mixed oaks, aspen, maple, birch, and cherry, with mountain laurel, rhododendron, witch-hazel and greenbrier in the understory.

On about 30 acres of the tract, there are seven impoundments of an acre or less that are part of a passive system to treat acid-mine discharge affecting a tributary to Cold Stream, which is stocked with trout and runs through the western side of the property.

Access to the property is from Dike Road, east of state Route 322.

Additionally, the Board of Game Commissioners today approved the donation of fractional interest in clay, coal and other minerals on nearly 1,944 acres of State Game Lands 54 and 195 in Jefferson County.

Harry Deible offered the donation, which includes a one-third interest in coal and other minerals on about 27 acres in Snyder Township under a portion of State Game Lands 54; a one-third of one-half interest in coal and other hard minerals on more than 136 acres in Henderson and Gaskill townships under a portion of State Game Lands 195; and a one-third interest in clay and other hard minerals, except coal, on more than 1,780 acres located in Henderson and Gaskill townships under a portion of State Game Lands 195.

Acquiring these fractional interests in mineral rights will provide more control of the surface on these portions of State Game Land 54 and 195.

And Camp Earl Inc. donated to the Game Commission a 50-foot-wide, 1,590 right-of-way along the northwestern boundary of a property it owns in Forkston Township, Wyoming County, adjacent to State Game Lands 57.

The board approved the donation today.

Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Director Peter F. Sussenbach said State Game Lands 57 is about 45,000 acres, but the upper section is difficult to get to because of its location and rugged terrain. The right-of-way will provide easy access that will connect an existing parking lot to that section through the right-of-way.

Access to the right-of-way will be from Windy Valley Road.

Sussenbach said the right-of-way also will allow the Game Commission to better manage timber on the tract.





NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT TO ADD OVER 100 ACRES TO GAME LANDS



State Game Lands 97 could grow by nearly 104 acres in Monroe Township, Bedford County through a negotiated agreement intended to resolve a long-standing legal dispute.

As part of the settlement, the Game Commission would purchase for $235,000 land adjacent to the existing game lands from the Estate of Rae F. Barkman. The estate would be responsible for 2016 real-estate taxes (no proration) and all transfer taxes associated with the conveyance.

The legal dispute to be settled through the agreement concerns the Game Commission’s and public’s use of an access road that crosses a portion of the Barkman tract and provides valuable access to a remote section of State Game Lands 97.

Game Commission Bureau of Habitat Management Director Peter F. Sussenbach said public access had been denied through the dispute and reclaiming the access point had been identified by the Southcentral Region office as a top priority for the agency.

The habitat on the tract primarily is mature forest with stands of dry-oak heath and northern hardwoods. The understory is comprised of blueberry and oak seedlings, flowering dogwood, serviceberry, hornbeam, spice bush and witch-hazel.

Access to the property is provided by Frankies Road and an existing all-year Game Commission access road (WestVaco Access Road).

Two retired skid roads provide additional access within the property interior. Acquisition of this tract will aid in the reduction of indentures into State Game Lands 97 and will guarantee long-term and reliable public and administrative access to this remote section.





COMMISSIONERS APPROVE COAL AGREEMENT



The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved an agreement that will enable Mountaineer Mining Corp., of Berlin, Pa., to mine and remove an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 combined tons of Upper and Lower Kittanning coal from an approximate 2.2-acre coal reserve owned by the Game Commission.

The operation in Shade Township, Somerset County will occur on private lands and will not impact any Game Commission surface lands.

The terms are a five-year agreement, an initial advanced royalty payment of $10,000, and a royalty rate of 6 percent of the F.O.B. pit price for all coal mined and sold from the premises, or $2.50 per ton, whichever is greater.

All coal royalty payments will be deposited in the Game Fund. Mining will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s mining regulations and the Game Commission’s standard Surface Coal Mining Agreement.
 
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