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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just checked the timber bids for 2021, only 7500 acres. The GC is losing ground, not gaining ground on getting more of their land into ESH. I didnt dig into the prospectus of the bids to see which were clear cuts vs shelterwood cuts. But if anyone keeps asking why the small game hunting is so poor in Pa, here is your answer. Its a GC self inflicted problem.
 

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I just checked the timber bids for 2021, only 7500 acres. The GC is losing ground, not gaining ground on getting more of their land into ESH. I didnt dig into the prospectus of the bids to see which were clear cuts vs shelterwood cuts. But if anyone keeps asking why the small game hunting is so poor in Pa, here is your answer. Its a GC self inflicted problem.
Did you check to see how much was marked and put out for bid or how much was actually cut in 2021? If not then you are only telling a small part of the story.

How many acres are bid on doesn't even begin to tell the whole story. Often there is much more marked and ready to be cut. Since timber bids frequently allow two or sometimes even more years for removal the amount bid on during a year doesn't mean that is the amount that will be cut that year.

The amount bid on also doesn't include the thousands of acres cut on game lands each year by the Game Commission employees who are just out there cutting to create habitat. Nor does the amount bid on reflect the thousands of acres that are being managed with controlled burning.

There is also sometimes the problem of the timber market being so poor at times they can't get anyone to bid on sales that have been marked and put out for bid.

There is simply way too much you didn't include in your post for it to have even a slight bit of relevance to what the reality of the subject and your argument is or should be.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
All I can check is to see how much was put out for bid in 2021, that is future acreage that will be cut, no more, no less(unless the bidders are willing to lose money). There were 2 jobs that never were bid on.

Most cutting by the F&C crews are hinge cuts and similar types of cutting is along roads and fields, they are not going out and cutting 50-200 acres tracts. What they cut is valuable for its intended target, but not what grouse and hare need.

As for controlled burns, 90% are done pre-cut for advanced regeneration or post cut to to remove invasive vegetation. So to count burns as an addition to timber cuts is double dipping, it is not additional habitat. I havent seen a good burn in my area, a couple burned in 25 yards and died out, but were given credit for hundreds of acres. And again, all of those were pre or post cut, not additional habitat. Controlled burns can be beneficial for brood cover, but not in Pa, where the bloated deer herd is eating that vegetation as fast as it grows.

SO, try and try again, the fact is, the GC is not meeting their timbering habitat goals, we will never move past 8% ESH habitat, which is 50% less than their stated goal.
 

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RSB, I am sorry to start this but where in Western PA do they do controlled burns?
I have never seen one in Washinghton or Allegheny counties.
Logging is another joke. Allegheny can't support much for the size of one gameland.
Alot of Washington is recovering strip mine. 30 years ago they both had good numbers of grouse and rabbit. Now your lucky if pheasant get through the winter at the bird feeders at the housing developments.They are no longer managed for small game.
Deer are there but not in great numbers. Never were. Washington gamelands number a bit more than Allegheny herd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What is your basis for believing 7,500 acres of timber cuts is not enough for one year
The GC itself admitted that was not enough timbering to reach their goal.

Years ago when the LW had everyone believing there were no grouse because WNV was killing them all, it was pointed out that only 6-7% of the game lands were in ESH, where at one time it was up to 19% ESH. After a few years, the 8 bumble heads that control all the decisions agreed we need to get back up to 15% ESH, so timbering must increase.

Now the agency has about 1.5 million acres of game lands. Subtract out 500 thousand acres that could be farmland GL's, areas that cant be timbered to protect water sheds or other endangered species, that still leaves 1 million acres that can be timbered. That also means there should be 150 thousand acres in ESH. ESH only lasts about 15 years, before it becomes pole timber. Cutting only 7500 acres will only produce 11% ESH far below goal. Now I dont want or expect them to cut excessively to get up to goal in a short time, but I do expect them to cut at goal. That means a minimum of 10 acres a year on forested game lands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Alot of Washington is recovering strip mine. 30 years ago they both had good numbers of grouse and rabbit. Now your lucky if pheasant get through the winter at the bird feeders at the housing developments. They are no longer managed for small game.
A lot of that has to do with your local land manager and the talk heads above them. I know of a GL that was stripped years ago, grew back in nice timber, and about 10 years ago, it had a lot of singing woodcock. There is also a fair amount of timbering on that GL. But alas, the idiot GC decided grouse and woodcock arent important and turned much of the GL into a pheasant mecca, now its hard to find a woodcock there in the fall; sorta shows you what the GC really thinks is important when it comes to native wildlife.

I can also say I had excellent success on strip mines that timbered again in the last 12 years in preparation to some of the area to be stripped again, but that is now a hunting lease. But I did get a tip on another old mining area that is looking promising and is being timbered. There is also another area in Clarion county that the LM and the upper talking heads had no idea what they had until the F&C crew showed them if they cut out the standing trees, aspen would come up and take over. That area should now be prime grouse and woodcock hunting.

So to put it bluntly, the GC really isnt managing that area for wildlife or they would be back in there getting it done.
 

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I guess the good thing is ive seen a lot of private timbering in western PA in the last two years with timber prices way up and probably some hardships.
I really don’t think it’ll solve the small game issues. Way too many avian and land predators. Prime example are turkeys which don’t require a lot of thick timber are decreasing significantly all across the US.
I’m sure wet springs, disease, etc. have impactct buy the dramatactic increase predators is obvious. Timbering may help but it would be a temporary band aid in my opinion.
 

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But alas, the idiot GC decided grouse and woodcock arent important and turned much of the GL into a pheasant mecca, now its hard to find a woodcock there in the fall; sorta shows you what the GC really thinks is important when it comes to native wildlife.
Lost I used to disagree with you on this but not now. The GC continuing the pheasant stocking program that is basically throw away put and take for predators is not smart. Meanwhile native birds take a back seat and I see fewer grouse every year.
Driving down RT. 19 through the game lands in Mercer County last year during small game season I saw three dead ringnecks and one hen hit by cars on the road and there were several more ditch chickens wondering around the road edge waiting to be hit. Meanwhile there wasn't a single vehicle in any of the parking lots and this was a nice Saturday afternoon in pheasant season. Not money well spent to me. Time to end pheasant stocking and put that money into habitat and research for native PA birds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The GC can do both stocking and timbering effectively....if they want to. The problem is they dont want to. People slobber and trip over themselves with easy hunting pheasants, and that keeps the the coneheads at the top of the food chain happy. Now that the stocking has ended, 99% of the pheasant hunters have put their dogs and guns away, the easy hunting is over even though many pheasants are still out there.

Timbering while it will enhance other small game hunting, 90% of the deer hunters dont want it, they want to sit in mature forests where they can see 400 yards, and then complain they arent seeing deer. Deer and pheasants sell licenses, grouse hunters are a thorn in the side of the GC.

For years we had a good grouse biologist, that was also a grouse hunter, he knew grouse and grouse habitat. But he also spoke his mind and wasnt afraid to speak out to is managers and the idiot commissioners. Eventually he wizzed off enough people that they cracked down on him and made life miserable until he finally reached the age he could retire and left the agency. Next up was a goose hunter that lasted 1 year and used the biologist position as a stepping stone for a higher position. Along comes LW, a pheasant hunter. She made a stand with WNV. But that has come crashing down in the past few years and even other states jumped off the train. Now she has moved onto a higher position. They must be having problems finding someone within the agency to fill the position as I was shown a blurb from RGS posting the position for the GC looking for a grouse biologist.
 

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There can always be more but in the last few years there hasn't been much shortage of timbering on a lot of the NE region gamelands I hunt. There definitely seems to be a concerted effort to create more ESH habitat and I know we have a really good, dedicated LMS in that area.
 

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The GC itself admitted that was not enough timbering to reach their goal.

Years ago when the LW had everyone believing there were no grouse because WNV was killing them all, it was pointed out that only 6-7% of the game lands were in ESH, where at one time it was up to 19% ESH. After a few years, the 8 bumble heads that control all the decisions agreed we need to get back up to 15% ESH, so timbering must increase.

Now the agency has about 1.5 million acres of game lands. Subtract out 500 thousand acres that could be farmland GL's, areas that cant be timbered to protect water sheds or other endangered species, that still leaves 1 million acres that can be timbered. That also means there should be 150 thousand acres in ESH. ESH only lasts about 15 years, before it becomes pole timber. Cutting only 7500 acres will only produce 11% ESH far below goal. Now I dont want or expect them to cut excessively to get up to goal in a short time, but I do expect them to cut at goal. That means a minimum of 10 acres a year on forested game lands.
If in fact, 2 out of every 3 acres is commercially available for timber harvest, then yes, the PGC should be around 10,000 acres in reproduction type cuts. However, 2 out of 3 might be on the high side of commercial availability. If the goal is 15% ESH, is it achievable in the short term and/or the long term with current resources? The PGC had overwinter DPFSM goal densities for decades that were never achieved but for one county and those failings set the stage for many of the problems that persist currently and inhibit the creation of quality ESH.

I believe that increasing development and subdividing adjacent to core grouse habitats is likely having an impact on Grouse populations, especially in the more developing areas where there was grouse 10-20 years ago but few if any today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There can always be more but in the last few years there hasn't been much shortage of timbering on a lot of the NE region gamelands I hunt. There definitely seems to be a concerted effort to create more ESH habitat and I know we have a really good, dedicated LMS in that area.
Here you go, timber bids for the past 18 months in the NE region:
Bradford - 534
Sullivan - 760
Carbon - 1012
Susquehanna - 281
Wayne - 294

Thats a total of only 2881 acres that were bid on since July 2020... for the WHOLE NE region. Take out Carbon county and those numbers are really poor, and there are some large GL's in the NE region. Surely you dont think thats acceptable. Obviously grouse and hare hunting will see no improvement in that region
 

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Majority of grouse I killed weren't all on game lands, It was on big lumber companies land, Hammermill, Matson, Colin Pine all open to the public in Warren county. Not a big grouse hunter anymore, but I did see a decline in grouse when they started to drop all the pine trees.
 

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Here you go, timber bids for the past 18 months in the NE region:
Bradford - 534
Sullivan - 760
Carbon - 1012
Susquehanna - 281
Wayne - 294

Thats a total of only 2881 acres that were bid on since July 2020... for the WHOLE NE region. Take out Carbon county and those numbers are really poor, and there are some large GL's in the NE region. Surely you dont think thats acceptable. Obviously grouse and hare hunting will see no improvement in that region
Bid on, not cut. As far as actually cut, there's been some significant cuts particularly on 187, 127, 57 & 219. 12 has had a bunch too and I believe 13 is about to have some significant cutting. I wonder what has actually been cut say in the last 3-4 years on some of those SGLs? Because it was a noticeable uptick from previous years on them. Also I don't know how long from the time a tract is bid on until the cutting actually starts? Probably a year or two I'd imagine?
 

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RSB, I am sorry to start this but where in Western PA do they do controlled burns?
I have never seen one in Washinghton or Allegheny counties.
I can't speak for what is occurring in your area but I can tell you that they are burning a lot on the game lands here in Elk County. In just the past couple years I bet they have burned over a thousand acres in just Elk County. There have been some pretty darn big burns in our forested sections of the game lands the past couple years.

There are also thousands of acres being cut, most of it is clear-cut too. I am not aware of any of it that is being burned prior to or post cut either.

What long term effects that will have still remains to be seen but it isn't from a lack of trying to make habitat improvements.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If there are no sales put up for bidding, there is no cutting going on. Anything that was bid on in the last 18 months will be finished by the end of 2022. Some late bids in 2021 can continue into 2023

Not familiar with the GL's you listed, I went back and checked the last 18 months

GL187 - 700 acres, broken into 2 sales. The 2nd sale is all clearcut. This should bode well in 10 years.
GL 127 - 0 acres
GL 219 - 0 acres
GL 57 - 310 acres - all shelterwood cuts; interesting how some are laid out, reminds me of cuts years ago on GL 106
GL 12 - 510 acres, almost all shelterwood cuts.

Shelterwood cuts can be very iffy, as they leave a lot of shade to promote growth of only certain trees. This will also prevent many sun loving plants in the lower shrub layer from growing. And if the deer herd is out of control, there wont be much of any shrub layer growing, so they better leave a lot of trees on the ground.
 

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Time to end pheasant stocking and put that money into habitat and research for native PA birds.
There are some that have that opinion, but the reality is that those with that opinion are not looking at the reality of the current upland bird hunter interests.

During the last year the game take survey of the number of hunters per species is available, 2019, pheasant hunter numbers out ranked the number of grouse and woodcock hunters combined.

Here are the 2019 hunter numbers for each of the species in question.

Year............# pheasant hunters............# grouse hunters...............# woodcock hunters
2019...................35,692...............................21,547..................................3,607

I also suspect over the next few years we will see those grouse and woodcock hunter number decline even further. As grouse and woodcock hunters declined in the past the interest in pheasant hunting has tended to increase.

That should explain to anyone who cares to be objective why the Game Commission still has a pheasant program and why they should continue to have a solid pheasant program in the future too.

Dick Bodenhorn
 
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