As part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s efforts to highlight its ongoing habitat improvement initiatives, the public is invited to take part in upcoming tours of several state game lands.
The tours are free and will be held between Sept. 29 and Oct. 20.
Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said the tours offer a glimpse of what state game lands have to offer.
“We’re proud of our state game lands and these tours not only provide a chance for us to show them to the public, but they also provide the public an opportunity to come out and talk with the Game Commission personnel directly responsible for managing and protecting game lands,” Roe said.
With autumn nearly here, the tours also provide a chance to see some of the best scenery the Commonwealth has to offer, Roe said.
The state game lands system has a long history in Pennsylvania. In 1919, the Game Commission was granted authority to purchase lands 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 using revenues from hunting and furtaker license sales; state game lands timber, coal, oil, gas and mineral operation revenues; the state’s share of a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, known as the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program; from Working Together for Wildlife artwork and patch sales; and from the Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management stamp and print sales.
Information on the various tours is as follows:
Cameron County: Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This driving tour through State Game Lands 14 also is part of the events commemorating the 100th anniversary of elk restoration. Meet at West Hicks Run parking lot. For more information, contact the Game Commission Northcentral Region Office at 570-398-4744.
Bradford County: Sunday, Oct. 6, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (rain or shine), State Game Lands 12. This is a 28-mile, self-guided, circular driving tour through State Game Lands 12, and will take about two hours to complete. SGL 12 consists of nearly 24,480 acres in Bradford County. The route will start at the SGL 12 parking lot on top of Wheelerville Mountain along Route 154, just south of Canton, Bradford County. Roads are passable for most vehicles, four-wheel drive is not needed but a good ground clearance is advised. The route travels east to the Barclay Cemetery, then downhill to Laquin before turning west onto the railroad grade to Wheelerville. Once you reach Wheelerville you will come to a “T” in the road, which is state Route 154, and marks the end of the tour. You could go north along state Route 154 to Canton, or south along state Route 154 to Shunk and points south in Sullivan County. Since the tour goes by Sunfish Pond County Park, a picnic lunch may be the order of the day! You will find the local history of the mountain and the Game Commission’s refuge system is intriguing. A tour-guide packet that is full of information and old Game Commission photographs will be given to each vehicle at the start of the tour.
Cambria County: Sunday, Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Lands 108, consisting of 23,086 acres. This 7.5-mile, self-guided, one-way, driving tour will highlight mountainous terrain and fall foliage on the Allegheny Front. Items of interest along the tour route include a rehabilitated strip-mined area, which has been converted to small-game habitat. The area also serves as a study area for grassland nesting birds, including the Henslow’s sparrow, a grassland species of special concern. Northern harriers and endangered short-eared owls also inhabit the study area. Also highlighted are tree and shrub identification, wildlife habitat food plots and a deer exclosure fence. Each tour participant will be provided a brochure with directions and information about various features along the tour route. The tour begins at the State Game Lands access road three-tenths of a mile north of Frugality, along State Route 53, in White Township. Watch for the sign. The starting point is just minutes away from the main beach at Prince Gallitzin State Park, where the annual Apple Cider Festival will be taking place on the same day. The tour will conclude on State Route 865 near Blandburg, in Reade Township. Game Commission land management, forestry, wildlife management, and law enforcement personnel will be on hand to explain the various habitat improvement projects on this SGL and to answer questions.
Carbon County: Sunday, Oct. 6, State Game Lands 141. Registration will be held from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the large parking lot along state Route 93 in Nesquehoning Township. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain points of interest, including projects to improve wildlife habitat. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance are required for this nine-mile, self-guided driving tour. The tour will begin at the large parking area on the east side state Route 93 and will travel east on a game lands road toward the Lehigh Gorge State Park, and back to state Route 93, exiting at the parking lot across from the game lands shooting range. The tour will pass habitat improvement projects completed by the game lands Food and Cover Corps crew located in Carbon County, the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. Directions: Take state Route 93 north at the intersection of state Route 93 and state Route 209 and proceed 3.5 miles and turn right into the parking lot. Proceed through the gate on a dirt road. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife and habitat management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land consisting of about 17,050 acres.
Clinton County: Sunday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m. to dusk, State Game Lands 321. This tour also is being held in conjunction with events commemorating the 100th anniversary of elk restoration in Pennsylvania. Participants will drive their own vehicles following Game Commission officers on a dirt-road tour through elk habitat in hopes of seeing or hearing elk bugling. Meet at the state game lands gate at the end of New Garden Road (N 41.181132, W -78.01090900)
Elk County: Sunday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., State Game Lands 311. This tour is being held in conjunction with events commemorating the 100th anniversary of elk restoration in Pennsylvania, and features several learning stations. Start at the state game lands gate at the end of Dewey Road on Winslow Hill. Follow signs to see state game lands habitat work and meet Game Commission land managers, conservation officers, biologists and foresters. For more information, contact the Game Commission Northcentral Region Office at 570-398-4744.
Luzerne/Wyoming Counties: Sunday, Oct. 13, State Game Lands 57. Registration is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the headquarters building complex at Ricketts Station in Forkston Township, Wyoming County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain points of interest, including projects to improve wildlife habitat. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance are required for this 14-mile, self-guided driving tour. The tour will begin at the State Game Lands 57 maintenance building and follows Southbrook, Shale Pit, Beech Lake and Mountain Springs roads back to the building. The tour will pass habitat improvement projects completed by the game lands Food and Cover Corps crew, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management Association and Ducks Unlimited. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. Directions: Take Route 487 north at the intersection of Route 118 and proceed 7.5 miles and turn onto a dirt road near the state game lands sign on the right. Travel on the dirt road one-tenth of a mile to a “Y” intersection and proceed left three-tenths of a mile to the headquarters complex. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife and habitat management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land, which consists of nearly 44,600 acres.
Dauphin/Lebanon counties: Sunday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Lands 211, which encompasses more than 44,400 acres in a three-county area. The tour will start at the Ellendale gate in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County, 7 miles east of the Borough of Dauphin. Follow the road along Stony Creek to the gated entrance to the interior of the game land, which will be manned by Game Commission personnel. The one-way (easterly), 17-mile trip will be made along an abandoned railroad bed, and will exit onto Goldmine Road in Lebanon County. Additional Game Commission personnel will be on hand at the tour stops to answer questions. For interested parties an optional guided walking tour of the old Cold Springs Hotel site will be offered.
Berks/Schuylkill counties: Sunday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Lands 110, which encompasses nearly 10,150 acres of historical, scenic and recreational property in a two-county area. The nine-mile trip will begin at the agency’s parking lot on Mountain Road, midway between the Shartlesville exit of Interstate 78 and Route 61. The tour will exit onto Route 183, north of Strausstown. Game Commission officers will be on hand to answer questions relating to Game Commission programs and activities.
Logo courtesy Pennsylvania Game Commission