GAME COMMISSION TO HOLD STATE GAME LAND TOURS FOR PUBLIC
HARRISBURG - As part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's efforts to highlight its ongoing habitat improvement initiatives, the public is invited to take part in tours of eight State Game Lands in October. All tours are free.
"State Game Land tours provide the opportunity for those who enjoy nature to come out and talk with our employees - the people who are directly responsible managing and protecting these lands," said Vern Ross, Commission executive director. "With autumn nearly here, these tours will provide a chance to see some of the best scenery the Commonwealth has to offer.
"But, more importantly, these tours afford hunters and trappers the opportunity to see how the Game Commission is spending their license fees to acquire and manage these lands."
During fiscal year 2001-2002, the Game Commission spent $7,144,210 on habitat improvement, which exceeds the agency's mandated habitat spending level by $1,427,572. Other projects were conducted with the assistance of hundreds of sportsmen's clubs and conservation organizations.
During 2001-2002, the Game Commission's Land Managers, Foresters and Food and Cover Corps crews conducted the following projects to improve wildlife habitats: planted 2,359 acres of grain and 1,640 acres of grasses and legumes; planted or converted 548 acres of State Game Lands to warm-season grasses; limed and fertilized 6,219 acres of food plots; mowed 14,107 acres to maintain high-quality grasses and legumes; cut 2,138 acres of field borders to provide nesting and escape cover; completed wetland restoration work on 41 sites; pruned 21,200 trees to improve fruit and seed production; erected 884 new nest boxes and 174 waterfowl nest structures; treated 5,792 acres of State Game Lands for habitat improvement through commercial timbering operations; seeded 60 miles of haul roads and 12 miles of new roads to serve as linear food plots; treated 1,331 acres with herbicide to remove ferns and low-quality brush hampering the establishment of more beneficial food and cover species; and cleared 719 acres so the areas could revert to low groundcover.
Additionally, the Game Commission's Howard Nursery grew and distributed 1.6 million evergreen and deciduous tree seedlings (25 species) for planting on State Game Lands and lands open to public hunting. Howard Nursery also provided 3,604 bluebird boxes; 9,529 bluebird box kits; 560 wood duck boxes; and hundreds of squirrel, kestrel, barn owl and bat boxes to Land Managers for placement on State Game Lands.
In 1919, the Game Commission was granted authority to purchase lands to be set aside for the protection, propagation and management of game and wildlife, and to provide areas for public hunting and trapping. Since that time, the Game Commission has acquired more than 1.4 million acres in 65 of the state's 67 counties (Philadelphia and Delaware counties being the exceptions).
With few exceptions, State Game Lands were purchased by using revenues from the sale of hunting and furtaker licenses; from revenues generated by timber, coal, oil, gas and mineral operations on State Game Lands; from a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition known as the Pittman-Robertson Program; from the sale of Working Together for Wildlife artwork and patches; and from the sale of the Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management stamp and prints.
Information on the various tours by region is as follows:
Bedford/Blair counties: Sunday, Oct. 19, from noon to 4 p.m., State Game Land 26. This is a seven-mile, self-guided one-way driving tour that features a mountainous State Game Land and beautiful foliage. The tour begins at the parking area on the northeast side of Route 869, between Pavia and Beaverdale, and concludes near the town of Blue Knob. Game Commission personnel will place mounted wildlife specimens along the route to give youngsters an opportunity to locate and identify some of Pennsylvania's native wildlife in a natural setting.
Dauphin/Lebanon/Schuylkill counties: Sunday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Land 211, which encompasses more than 44,000 acres in a three-county area. The tour will start at the Ellendale gate in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County, just northeast of Dauphin Borough. The 19-mile trip will be made along an abandoned railroad bed, and will end at Goldmine Road, just southwest of Tower City, Schuylkill County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat improvement projects.
Bradford County: Sunday, Oct. 5, from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. This will be a 26-mile self-guided driving tour through State Game Lands 12 and 36. The route will start at the parking lot on top of Wheelerville Mountain along Route 154 just south of Canton, Bradford County. Tour participants will see food plots that the Game Commission created in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation; several timber sale operations in various stages; border cuttings; two deer exclosure project sites; and a strip-mine reclamation site that was completed in 1983. Additionally, the tour will include stops by the remains of towns and farm sites; a former refuge area; Barclay Cemetery; and evergreen plantings done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Roads are passable for most vehicles.
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