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On January 12, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) announced its intention to require hikers to have permits to use State Game Lands (SGLs), and to ban non-hunter use of SGLs during certain periods of time. (Here is the PGC's latest proposal, in case you haven't yet had a chance to read it.)
Last week, Keystone Trails Association, along with many other organizations across the commonwealth reached an unprecedented number of outdoors enthusiasts in and around Pennsylvania, as hikers, backpackers, and trail-walkers -- in addition to rock and ice climbers, cavers, birders, conservationists, wildlife photographers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers -- took the time to e-mail the PGC - to question, comment, and share concerns about their proposal.
The result? The PGC has removed the proposal from their board's January 27 meeting agenda. They stated that their "board received hundreds of public comments about the proposal and wants to allow more time to properly consult with hunters, conservation partners and elected officials about it."
Here is the full PGC press release, sent earlier this week.
Unfortunately, while many hope that the PGC will consider recommendations to include the hiking community in discussions about how to proceed -- and while there is an appreciation of PGC's willingness to delay a vote until after the proposal has been more carefully considered -- this issue is far from resolved.
On a personal note, I both hike and hunt in Pennsylvania and have used various State Game Lands for both pursuits. I really hope the PA Game Commission consults with the hiking community and allows them a voice in this matter.