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Response to: PA Gamelands to Restrict Horseback Riding! Official

From your AERC Trails Chairman

Response to Diane Nelson:
I was at the hearing in Harrisburg Pa. this past Wednesday.   Over
the past several months I have been working with Debbie Zanot and Pete
Johnson in Pennsylvania on a strategy dealing with the closure of the
Game Lands.
There are too many details of just what is happening to the trials in
Pennsylvania to deal with here on ridecamp.  I will try to give you 
an outline and a better understanding of just what is going on.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission answers to no one.  The commission is
charged with the ask of management of the game lands in 
Pennsylvania.  They have free rein to do what they want.
House Bill 2181(Pennsylvania) would bring some very limited oversight 
to what they do.
The new revised regulations would eliminate horse back riding, and 
mountain bike riding about 6 months out of the year.  They do not 
hunt on Sundays, so the trails will be left open on Sundays.
The PGC is closing trails under the guise of environmental damage.  
So,through limited time allowances, and through environmental claims 
that for the most part are not true, the PGC is by regulations, 
slowly removing other user groups out of the game lands.
This coming March there will be a meeting of all user groups of the
Pennsylvania Game Lands to form a coalition which will then have the 
task of working politically within Pennsylvania
to secure their rights to the game lands. You can write all the 
letters in the world to the Game Commission.  That will not change a 
thing.  Letters and phone calls to your political representatives
in Pennsylvania will make a change.
Endurance riders were represented at the hearing by myself.  I was 
the last person up to provide testimony before the committee dealing 
with some of the issues.  Nice slot to be in because I could
refute some of the previous testimony.
For too many years trail riders took their trails for granted in
Pennsylvania.  They are now playing catch up within the system..  
Pete and Debbie are the point persons dealing with the issues.  They
need all of the help they can get.
Some facts from the American Horse Council.
There are 2.9 million horse in the US being used for trail riding.
The trail riders of the United States create an economic impact of 
$112 Billion a year.
If a state such as Pennsylvania chooses to eliminate trails the 
impact will be felt within the tourism industry.
I believe that the Game Commission will in time be brought to heel.  
It is going to take a lot of hard work on the part of equestrians in 
Pennsylvania to get back on the trails within the Game Lands.  It can 
be done, so give Pete and Debbie a hand.
Jerry Fruth
Chairman, AERC Trails Committee

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 12:44 PM
Subject: RC: 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 
> using Pennsylvania's 1.4 million acres of game lands during spring 
> 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 
> 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 
> for the commission. Feaser said sensitive animal habitats can be 
> by the growing number of recreational users.
> Some mountain bikers and horse riders say they are upset by the 
> changes, which also would confine them to riding on designated 
> routes, such as fire and access roads, in game lands.
> "Now, you really are denied access to any trail system" inside game 
> said Tim Cusick, Pennsylvania state representative for the 
> 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 
> County. Patton, 63, said she rides an unofficial network of deer 
> there, and that she and fellow riders routinely help the commission 
> 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 
> game lands from the second Saturday of September until the third 
> of January -- from the start of small game hunting season until the 
end of
> the archery and muzzle loading deer seasons -- except on Sundays, 
> hunting is prohibited. The same restriction would apply during 
> turkey season, which runs from the second Saturday in April through 
> 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 
> they support legislation introduced in the state House of 
> 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 
> Development Committee.
> The state, which bought its first piece of game land in 1920, now 
> more than 300 separate game areas in 65 of 67 counties statewide.
> Officials say the lands were purchased primarily with money from 
> licenses and a tax on sporting equipment and ammunition, and that 
> 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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