More public land acquired in Pennsylvania

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I was fortunate to grow up in Bedford County, Pennsylvania next to a 200-acre farm owned by my grandmother. Most budding hunters aren’t that lucky.

What is 200 acres? About 200 football fields worth of land, comprised of fields, forest and an old apple orchard. There were three springs, with one of them having a good enough flow to support a small trout pond. It was a paradise for a youngster beginning to hunt and fish in the 1960s.

I hunted groundhogs in the fields, rabbits and grouse in the apple orchard and brushy areas, and deer in the forest. Some of the trout that my brothers and I caught in the nearby streams were bucketed to our small trout pond and became pets of sort.

This was the 1960s, and my how things have changed. At that time, none of the neighboring properties were posted, and purple paint was unheard of. I had free reign of two stocked trout streams and more than 1,000 acres of land — all within easy walking distance.

It is nice to think wistfully about the days of old, but it is more productive to think about the future. Fortunately for us, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has been forward-thinking for a long time. The total amount of state game lands managed by the agency isomer than 1.5 million acres.

If that isn’t enough, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages an additional 2.2 million acres – most of which is open for public hunting and fishing. These state forest lands are found in 50 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

At their Sept. 24 meeting, game commissioners approved the purchase or transfer of nearly 3,000 acres to be added to Pennsylvania game lands. Land acquired included 45 acres in Venango County, 137 acres in Cumberland and Perry counties, 78 acres in Cumberland County and 264 acres in Elk County.

The two biggest acquisitions were in Pike and Blair counties. Approximately 1,088 acres were added to State Game Land 180 in Pike County, and 1,367 acres were added to State Game Land 147 in Blair County.

The more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands are spread out over the vast majority of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. With just this month’s purchases, public hunting land was added in the northwestern, northcentral, northeastern, and southcentral regions.

At their September meeting, the commissioners also approved a non-surface-use oil and gas agreement with Chesapeake Appalachia LLC to develop nearly 4,000 acres of commission-owned oil and gas rights under State Game Land 36 in Bradford County. The commission received nearly $12 million as a bonus payment and additional royalties over the life of the agreement.

In the past, much of the Marcellus shale money collected by the commission has been used to purchase additional game lands. I trust that the same will be true with this new windfall of cash into the game fund.

It is 2022, my grandmother’s 200 acres have long been divided, sold and posted. However, I am forever grateful to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for providing me with tens of thousands of acres where I am free to hunt, fish and hike — all within a half-hour’s drive of my Centre County home.

You should be grateful for the public land in your area.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Mark Nale

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