The Treehouse Blog


Pennsylvania Game Commission and Hiking

by on Feb.16, 2015, under Hiking, Politics

Over the past year or so, there has been the occasional threat of the Pennsylvania Game Commission requiring permits for and partially banning hiking on State Game Lands.  As someone who grew up with Game Lands literally in the back yard, I’ve been following this with concern.

Naturally, media coverage is abysmal, but at least it exists.  But fortunately, the PGC does post its meeting minutes.  Reading from the September minutes (the January minutes are not yet posted… does that wait until they are approved at the next meeting?), the most vocal dissent of the proposal came from Commissioner Martone:

Before this proposal comes to a vote, I want to make it clear the details surrounding this proposal.  As of last Thursday there were 869 comments from hunters and non-hunters opposed to this, while 197 were in favor.  That’s the initial count.  I will admit, that includes 597 Rails-to-Trails comments that were all opposed.  Key legislators, including take 25 member at a House Game and Fisheries Committee and two other legislators are opposed to this.  The Governor’s Advisory Council for hunting, fishing, and conservation unanimously opposed this.  Our key conservation partners, including the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, National Wild Turkey Federation, United Bow Hunters of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, all opposed to this.

Major organizations representing the Pennsylvania Equine Council, Pennsylvania State Snowmobilers Association, International Mountain Bikers Association, Keystone Rails-to-Trails, all opposed to this proposal.  And most important of all, this issue is opposed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission itself.  From the field staff, regional staff, headquarters staff and even senior administration, all oppose this proposal.

I would encourage everyone following this issue to pay close attention to the results of today’s vote and pay attention to who voted and how they voted, I think it’s important.  Thank you.

But Commissioner Martone no longer has his position.  He was replaced by a new Commissioner as one of Governor Corbett’s final acts.  Ostensibly, it was administrative issue – his term was due to expire, and his replacement was named.

Now, we do know that the revised proposal was removed from the agenda of the January meeting.  But it seems likely it’s not dead and buried, and in some form, it will resurface again.  In the meantime, you may want to let your opinion be known on this, through the PGC, PA legislature, etc.

I’m starting to think that my preferred solution would be for all of the State Game Lands to be ceded to the Bureau of Forestry, which of all of the state lands, seems the most accommodating of all uses of public land.  Now, you can cry about Game Fund money having been used to purchase all of this land, but really – with 1.5 million acres already… can’t you give some of us folks who would like to privately buy some land a chance?  Perhaps the license fees need to start contributing back to the state’s general fund, instead of contributing to the Game Commission’s empire building.  I’m sure there’s lots of red tape that causes it to be the way it is (which has Federal fingerprints all over it with money from the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax involved).


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Gunter Valley Dam

by on Sep.19, 2010, under News, Outdoors

It looks like deconstruction may be commencing at Gunter Valley Dam. Last summer there was an underwater construction company working at the dam, presumably repairing the gates on the intakes. This summer the reservoir has been consistently at very low levels, and in the past few weeks has been drained to the bottom. Sometime this past week, the access road has been improved and earth moving equipment arrived at the dam. A mound of rocks has been placed encircling the intake tower, and an access road for earth moving equipment has been created from the dam breast on its face to the level area near the spillway, and then down to the floor of the valley around the intake tower. There were several groups of people touring the site on my visits Friday and today.

UPDATE 2010-10-22: It looks like whatever the task was is complete for now.  The access way down the face of the dam has been closed up and all of the equipment has been removed.  A hole has been cut in the intake tower above the lowest intake, possibly for repair of the piping contained within (not sure).

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The National Parks

by on Feb.07, 2010, under Outdoors

I recently finished watching the DVD version of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (ad) from Netflix.  First of all, there were many parts that would have looked much better in HD, but alas Netflix doesn’t have the Blu-ray version.  I had also been thinking this would be more of a tour of the parks, forgetting that this was a Ken Burns film.  It turns out to be a thorough history of the parks, which was interesting for the most part.  Trying to place yourself in the America that still had unclaimed wilderness is challenging, though I guess you can still see that in a trip to Alaska.  As to whether national parks are “America’s Best Idea” … I would say that’s a massive exaggeration, but “one of the best ideas” might qualify.

I’d love to see some of these places in person!

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Northwest PA Expedition

by on Aug.16, 2009, under Camping

Chris and I went on a weekend expedition to northwest PA this past weekend.  The first stop was Parker Dam State Park on the way north.  Nothing spectacular here, but it is a nice state park about halfway on the trip.  Next was the Kinzua Dam at the end of the Allegheny Reservoir – A very impressive structure, with water thundering through the gates.  We then walked around the Seneca Pumped Storage Reservoir that is located on the mountain above the dam.  We didn’t notice any change in water levels while there, but the huge concrete bowl is pretty cool.

We camped at Chapman State Park, but didn’t really explore there at all.  It was a somewhat central location to branch out from, and had a nice modern campground.

Much of Saturday was spent at Oil Creek State Park and the surrounding area.  We toured a few of the sites there, but it seems that biking would be the best way to explore here.  There is a paved bike trail that follows the Oil Creek.  There are slight remains of the several oil boom towns in the area and many oil wells scattered throughout the park, and a few still seem to be active.  You can sometimes tell there is a nearby well by the smell.  Later we went to the Tionesta Dam and its lake, then hiked to some overlooks back around Kinzua Dam, and drove up into New York, circling the Allegheny Reservoir. Probably should have looked for a tax-free gas station in the Seneca Nation, but didn’t read about that until afterwards.  Did get to see the United Refinery in Warren, PA while driving by.  Pretty impressive looking plumbing!

I could easily spend a week or more exploring that area, but we did OK with the time we had.  Might have to plan something in that area again.

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Bicycling Lessons

by on Mar.07, 2009, under Outdoors

A few things I learned today. None of this is surprising, but there’s nothing like first-hand experience.

  1. When on a bike ride, and considering a path that involves walking the bike on a thorny trail, over a fallen tree over a stream, and up a 15ft steep bank with guard-rail at the top, do not ignore your suspicion that the thorns will be bad for your tires.
  2. Riding a bike with a flat tire is not sustainable, and will quickly cause the tire to come off the rim.
  3. Pushing a bike with a tire that is not on the rim will eventually lead to the inner tube coming out, which will get stuck in things and make the bike non-pushable.
  4. Despite Chris Barner’s insistence, generally, you can’t union two bikes together into a tandem bike.
  5. Biking with a chest cold is tiring.
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