Pennsylvania Game Commission Southeast Region commissioner Brian Hoover may be a fan of “Man of La Mancha,” but he is sure not a fan of windmills.
At least he’s not a fan of any windmills that would be erected on state game lands.
Unlike the play’s principal character Don Quixote, Hoover is not attacking windmills on horseback with a lance. Defeating them is not, however, an impossible dream.
Hoover was at the forefront of a moratorium enacted by the PGC board of commissioners to the development of wind farms and the erecting of windmills on any State Game Lands. None of the 19 wind-energy proposals on SGLs have been permitted, and the resolution adopted by the board makes its stance clear.
“Over the years the Pennsylvania Game Commission has received 19 proposals to develop wind energy on State Game Lands,” Hoover said. “All have been denied, due to potential adverse impacts on wildlife.”
This progressive, aggressive action by the board continues the trend of attacking, rather than reacting, of this and recent boards. For Baby Boomers, this is certainly not the PGC of their early years, let alone the PGC of their fathers.
In adopting a resolution to place a moratorium on wind farms at the PGC April quarterly meeting to set seasons and bag limits, the board had the support of hunters and non-hunters who enjoy the benefits of visiting state game lands bought and paid for by hunters. Although the agency has received numerous solicitations from various industrial wind energy developers interested in erecting wind turbines on state game lands the past few years, and, while the board recognizes the significant value of exploring alternative energy resources and renewable energy initiatives, it has determined that the protection of wildlife habitat values and their associated recreational use of state game lands are one of its highest priorities.
In somewhat more eye-raising moves, the board has instructed its deer-management team to explore the impact of opening the statewide firearms deer season on a Saturday – perhaps as early as the 2019-20 hunting seasons – and reaffirmed its commitment in support of expanded Sunday hunting opportunities. Since then, state Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) has introduced Senate Bill 1202 that would permit the PGC to have authority to regulate Sunday hunting. It also includes language that makes trespassing while hunting a primary violation, for which game wardens could issue citations.
By amending the Game Code, it makes the language similar to that of Agricultural Trespass in the Crimes Code, but with more suitable summary and misdemeanor penalties. Also, by making trespassing while hunting a primary offense, it will be enforceable by game wardens, as well as other law enforcement. PGC executive director Bryan Burhans said the agency supports the legislation.
A Saturday opener for deer makes even more sense than the Saturday opener for bear, which has been an overwhelming success. In the past 20 years, hundreds, if not thousands, have come through programs such as youth field days and other activities that developed an interest in hunting, fishing and all things outdoors.
Today, those people are young adults who are low on the seniority pole at their work place and often are unable to use a vacation for the Monday opener of deer seasons – which is not “buck” season in most areas of the state until the first Saturday. Having a Saturday opener – and Sunday hunting – would allow these people, and their children, to enjoy two days of hunting.
Indeed, this is a brand new Pennsylvania Game Commission.
(Dietz is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association)
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