The Sept. 30 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources news release touted the opening of additional state forest roads in 18 of the 20 state forest districts.
"More than 400 miles of state forest roads normally open only for administrative use will be available to hunters in state forestlands this year," DCNR Bureau of Forestry Director Daniel Devlin said. "We hope to improve accessibility while promoting hunting where it is needed to benefit forest regeneration and the overall ecosystem."
In my last post, I highlighted the much-improved forest habitat in the Red Run watershed of the Moshannon State Forest. While fishing there, I made another observation that begs to be mentioned.
As I drove down Red Run Road looking for a place to fish, it seemed as if I would drive forever without seeing any spot where I could park or even turn around. You can't fish or hunt in an area if there is no safe place to park.
After trying several times to create a parking place where there was none, I drove on and finally located a widened area about 2.5 miles down the hollow from the Quehanna Highway.
In the 2.5 miles of the gravel Red Run Road that I drove, I found only three hunter-angler-hiker parking spots. Each spot could hold about three pickups. There was one near the top (no stream there, however), one on a "switch-back" where the road crossed the stream and a third spot 2.5 miles off of the Quehanna Highway where the red-blazed Quehanna Trail crosses Red Run Road.
When I last hunted there, I squeezed in next to several other vehicles and parked at the stream crossing. Trout fishing Red Run this fall – I parked in the area created for users of the Quehanna Trail.
The upper part of this road is the main access for at least five square miles of state forest. Having so few safe parking spots serves to concentrate the hunters and leaves the remaining state forest land difficult to reach and therefore under-hunted.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants more deer harvested throughout state forest lands "to benefit forest regeneration." DCNR even offers DMAP permits in many areas. Nevertheless, concentrating hunters through the limited access only serves to push deer away from these few points of entry, making it difficult to harvest a deer or even see game. This is the opposite of what DCNR – and hunters – want.
I realize that this isn't a problem everywhere. In a place such as Red Run, I suggest that one day with a dozer could easily create several safe, single-vehicle parking spaces – spread out along the road. Those few hours of work and expense would provide hunter, angler and hiker access for years to come. State forest managers – look around and see what you could do to make this public land a more friendly place for sportsmen and sportswomen.