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PA Gamelands to Restrict Horseback Riding! It's Official!

Diane Nelson
Please send to everyone who might be affected

Game Commission to limit horse riding, biking on game lands

By Timothy D. May
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG -- Mountain bikers and horse riders would be prohibited from
using Pennsylvania's 1.4 million acres of game lands during spring and
winter hunting seasons under new rules given preliminary approval by state
game officials Tuesday.
The recommended changes, approved unanimously by the state Game
Commission, come after a yearlong review process that included public
hearings and input from an advisory committee comprising members of
biking, equestrian, hunting and tourism groups.
"It's not only about environmental concerns, it's also about ensuring that
hunters and non-hunters are not competing," said Jerry Feaser, a spokesman
for the commission. Feaser said sensitive animal habitats can be disturbed
by the growing number of recreational users.
Some mountain bikers and horse riders say they are upset by the proposed
changes, which also would confine them to riding on designated public
routes, such as fire and access roads, in game lands.
"Now, you really are denied access to any trail system" inside game lands,
said Tim Cusick, Pennsylvania state representative for the International
Mountain Biking Association.
"I'm up in arms about this, and I think everybody else is, too," said Mary
Lou Patton, a horse rider who lives near a state game land in Washington
County. Patton, 63, said she rides an unofficial network of deer trails
there, and that she and fellow riders routinely help the commission with
rubbish removal and maintenance of the land.
"Where am I going to ride, now?" she said.
The proposed rules would ban mountain bikers and horse riders from using
game lands from the second Saturday of September until the third Saturday
of January -- from the start of small game hunting season until the end of
the archery and muzzle loading deer seasons -- except on Sundays, when
hunting is prohibited. The same restriction would apply during spring
turkey season, which runs from the second Saturday in April through the
last Saturday in May, except on Sundays.
Currently, there are no regulations limiting riding by bikers or
equestrians on game lands, and members of both recreational groups said
they support legislation introduced in the state House of Representatives
that would force the commission to submit any such changes to an
independent regulatory review agency for approval. A hearing on that
proposal is scheduled Wednesday before the House Tourism and Recreational
Development Committee.
The state, which bought its first piece of game land in 1920, now owns
more than 300 separate game areas in 65 of 67 counties statewide.
Officials say the lands were purchased primarily with money from hunting
licenses and a tax on sporting equipment and ammunition, and that they
were created for hunting and wildlife.


This will effectively close down all endurance and CTR rides in
the state of PA.  For us it will mean the total, absolute,
complete end of trail riding as the gamelands are the only
trails avaialble to us without trailering 4 hours to state
forest lands.

This happened because the Game Commission is an independent
agency without oversight.  We MIGHT be able to change this IF
you flood your Harrisburg state representatives with letters,
faxes and emails.

Do it NOW.  Tomorrow is too late.

Diane Nelson
across from SGL with no alternate trails
Allentown, PA

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