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Outdoors notebook: Game Commission adds to game lands system

| Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, 9:51 p.m.

Say what you will about the Pennsylvania Game Commission: It's been adding plenty to the state game land system recently.

Most recently, board members bought 12,911 acres to add to game land 25 in Elk County. The property — which comes in three parcels, rather than one chunk — is mainly forested. But it's also home to several upland wetland areas and streams containing wild brook trout.

The parcels are bisected by Route 219, offer several access points and abut Allegheny National Forest in areas.

The commission calls the acquisition “one of the largest purchases in decades.”

The $12.2 million price tag does not include all of the timber rights to the property. The Conservation Fund is reserving the timber for 25 years, with the right to harvest, cut, remove and otherwise manage and use all timber, except conifer, white oak, walnut and apple trees.

But “the enormity of the acquisition can't be understated,” said Bill Capouillez, director of the commission's bureau of wildlife habitat management.

The board also added more property elsewhere, including 42 acres in Allegheny County. That came via a donation from Anthony Gagliardi and Carol Lund in Springfield Township. The tract is bisected by Crone Hollow Road and can be accessed from High Street.

All told, the commission has acquired nearly 18,000 acres, or about 30 square miles, of land in recent weeks.

Boundaries change

Hunters and anglers acquired some new access via boundary line changes at Moraine State Park and game land 95, both in Butler County.

Commissioners reduced the size of the wildlife propagation area at Moraine from 386 to 161 acres. It initially was established to give geese a place to nest and rest, but the birds have become so numerous and are a nuisance at times, officials said.

Meanwhile, the propagation area on game land 95 will shrink from 308 to 201 acres for essentially the same reasons. It will be easier to identify because most of it will run along roads and field edges as opposed to running through wooded areas, the commission said.

Bait ban rejected

A proposed ban on soft plastic fishing lures in Maine that some feared could go national has been rejected.

Last year, Maine's state legislature considered a bill that would have prohibited anglers from using soft baits, such as rubber minnows and worms, for fear they were being eaten by fish.

A study done by the state's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife determined that only 0.4 to 5.2 percent of fish sampled over the past 18 years had soft plastic lure parts in their digestive systems, though, so the bill was recalled.

The department recommended an angler education campaign to teach people the importance of not leaving lures or any other trash behind.

Outdoor guide

A new guidebook will promote places to hunt, fish, paddle, hike and more across Pennsylvania.

Put together by a number of agencies, the 80-page “Pennsylvania Outdoor Adventure Guide” is meant to get people using the state's 17 million acres of forest and 86,000 miles of rivers and streams. Copies will be available this spring at state park and forest district offices and at VisitPA.com.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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