Hikers could see themselves banned from state game lands during hunting season if a new rule is approved.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering a new regulation that could see fall hiking on state game lands from being banned, according to reports.
The commission, which is scheduled to consider the new rule Jan. 27, would prohibit hiking and other non-hunting activities during the fall and spring hunting seasons on state game lands. If approved the ban would total over 130 days; however, hiking would be allowed on Sundays, when hunting is not allowed.
Mark Zakutansky, Mid-Atlantic policy manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club, which is based in Bethlehem said that the decision seems a bit rash.
Fall foliage is such a draw. Hikers have always been respectful in wearing orange and staying on trails – it seems a little knee-jerk.
The new rule would see hikers restricted along Blue Mountain in the Lehigh Valley, and in popular spots such as Top Rock Trail and Glen Onoko Falls in Jim Thorpe, which are on state game land in Haycock Township, Bucks County.
While the Appalachian Trail and other long-distance trails which pass through state lands would be excused it is believed that many people are worried that the access paths to the trails going through state game lands would in fact be restricted.
This, however, is not the first time that the PGC has proposed restrictions on hikers. Previous restrictions include hikers requiring a permit, which is up for consideration again Jan. 27. Restrictions are already in place for horseback riding, snowmobiling and biking over the two seasons.
The spring hunting season goes from the second Saturday in April until Memorial Day and the fall season starts from the last Saturday in September until the third Saturday in January. If the permit rule is approved Jan. 27, hikers would be required to obtain a free permit from Harrisburg or a regional game commission office to enable them to hike on state game land at any time. Those who receive a permit in 2015 would be entitled to use it through to 2018.