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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 02-1520




[58 PA. CODE CH. 135]

Use of and Permissible Activities on State Game Lands

[32 Pa.B. 4235]

   To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission), at its April 9, 2002, meeting adopted the following changes:

   Amend §§ 135.2 and 135.41 (relating to unlawful actions; and State game lands) to restrict specified detrimental uses and further define permitted acts and unlawful activities.

   These amendments were adopted under the authority of 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Game and Wildlife Code) (code).

1.  Introduction

   Section 722(a) of the code (relating to use of property) provides that lands or waters title to which has been acquired by the Commission ''. . . may be used only to create and maintain public hunting and furtaking, game or wildlife propagation areas . . . or other uses incidental to hunting, furtaking and game or wildlife resource management.'' Section 721(a) of the code places the administration of all lands and waters owned or controlled by the Commission under the sole control of the Executive Director and authorizes the Commission to promulgate regulations ''. . . for its use and protection as necessary to properly manage these lands or waters.''

   The Commonwealth has allowed various recreational uses of the game lands system. Unfortunately, an increase of these recreational uses has resulted in a corresponding increase in user conflicts and habit degradation and fragmentation. The Commission at its January 15, 2002, meeting proposed, and at its April 9, 2002, meeting finally adopted, changes to §§ 135.2 and 135.41 to place restrictions on some of these recreational uses and to clarify permitted acts.

2.  Purpose and Authority

   The purpose and authority of the adopted changes are outlined in the Introduction. The changes clarify existing regulations regarding use of and permissible activities on game lands and restrict certain recreational uses by the time of year, areas to be used and number of participants. The changes also make it unlawful, while on State game lands, to consume or possess alcohol, possess controlled substances, or engage in any commercial activity without the written permission of the Executive Director.

3.  Regulatory Requirements

   The adopted changes make it unlawful to violate restrictions on specified recreational uses or to engage in prohibited activities.

4.  Persons Affected

   Individuals wishing to use State game lands for specified detrimental uses will be limited. Individuals wishing to use State game lands for other uses will be affected.

5.  Comment and Response Summary

   Seventy-six official comments were received with regard to the adopted changes. Those supporting strongly favored requirement of nonhunters to wear hunter orange when afield on State game lands during hunting seasons; that regulations would reduce or eliminate nonhunting conflicts during hunting seasons; and that regulations would help reduce impacts to both wildlife and habitat. Those opposing primarily voiced the opinion that these were State, public lands and should be open, without restrictions, to all users.

6.  Cost and Paperwork Requirements

   There will be additional cost to the Commission in posting designated routes for specified users as well as posting new regulations on State game lands to inform users of changes. Usual, customary costs associated with signage for any new program can be expected. The anticipated costs are minimal.

7.  Effective Dates

   The adopted changes will be effective February 1, 2003, and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.

8.  Contact Person

   For further information regarding these changes, contact David E. Overcash, Director, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, (717) 783-6526.


   The Commission finds that:

   (1)  Public notice of intention to adopt the administrative amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for the administration and enforcement of the authorizing statute.


   The Commission, acting under authorizing statute, orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapter 135, are amended by amending §§ 135.2 and 135.41 to read as set forth in Annex A to this order.

   (b)  The Executive Director shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (c)  This order shall take effective upon final publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Executive Director

   Editor's Note:  Fiscal Note 48-140 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A





§ 135.2.  Unlawful actions.

   In addition to the prohibitions in the act on lands, waters or buildings under Commission ownership, lease or jurisdiction, it is unlawful, except with the permission of the person in charge of the lands, to:

   (1)  Camp or use campsites.

   (2)  Plant, gather, cut, dig, remove or otherwise injure plants or parts thereof, including trees, shrubs, vines, flowering plants, cultivated crops, mushrooms and fruits of berry-producing plants.

   (3)  Travel on lands by means of vehicle or conveyance propelled by motorized power. This prohibition does not include the travel by individuals permanently confined to a wheelchair propelled by electric power obtained from batteries. Individuals desiring to hunt from an electric powered wheelchair shall have a disabled person permit under section 2923 of the act (relating to disabled person permits).

   (4)  Swim in a dam, pond, lake or stream.

   (5)  Injure, destroy or cause damage to property--real, personal or mixed.

   (6)  Remove or attempt to remove any manmade or natural object except wildlife and fish lawfully taken during the open season. Objects which may not be removed include animals, rocks, minerals, sand and historical or archaeological artifacts.

   (7)  Participate in, become a part of, contribute to or engage in disorderly conduct as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 5503 and 5505 (relating to disorderly conduct; and public drunkenness).

   (8)  Kindle, use or maintain an open fire.

   (9)  Travel on roads open to vehicular travel with vehicle or conveyance propelled by motorized power which is not licensed or authorized for operation on a public highway under 75 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Vehicle Code).

   (10)  Violate, fail or neglect to follow instructions posted on signs authorized by the Director.

   (11)  Travel by mechanical or motorized conveyance or ride animals on newly constructed, seeded or planted roads, or other areas, when posted against the travel.


§ 135.41.  State game lands.

   (a)  Restrictions limited. The following exceptions to § 135.2 (relating to unlawful actions) pertain to lands and waters designated as State game lands:

   (1)  Mushrooms and fruits of berry-producing plants may be picked.

   (2)  Small open fires for cooking or warming purposes are permitted only at places where adequate precautions are taken to prevent the spread of fire which may damage adjacent areas and shall be attended at all times and completely extinguished before leaving the site of the fire. Open fires are prohibited when the fire index rating used by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is high, very high or extreme. A person causing a wildfire, in addition to possible criminal penalty, is liable for all damages, cost of extinguishing and fines.

   (3)  Snowmobiles, as defined in 75 Pa.C.S. § 7702 (relating to definitions) may be driven beginning on the third Sunday in January through April 1 on designated areas, roads and trails marked with appropriate signs, so long as snowmobiles are registered and display valid registration decal as required under 75 Pa.C.S. §§ 7711.1 and 7711.2 (relating to registration of snowmobile or ATV; and limited registration of snowmobile or ATV).

   (b)  Closure of game lands.

   (1)  When the threat of forest fires exists, the Director has emergency authority to restrict the use of smoking materials on State game lands or to close State game lands to hunting, trapping, fishing, recreational use and other activity which may be or become detrimental to those lands or the flora or fauna thereon until the Director removes the restrictions. Emergency restrictions or closures will be announced to the news media.

   (2)  The Director has the authority to close State game lands or portions thereof, to recreational or other uses, when the specified uses may be or have become detrimental to those lands or the flora or fauna thereon, or where the uses conflict with legal hunting, furtaking or fishing activities or the Commission's management or administration of State game lands. The closure may be seasonal or year-round and shall remain in effect until the Director removes the restrictions.

   (3)  It is unlawful to violate restrictions or closure placed on these lands by the Director.

   (c)  In addition to the prohibitions contained in the act pertaining to State game lands and § 135.2 (relating to unlawful actions), except with the written permission of the Director, it is unlawful to:

   (1)  Contaminate, pollute or degrade groundwaters or surface waters or any waterways.

   (2)  Graze or permit the grazing of livestock, place or maintain beehives or beekeeping apparatus.

   (3)  Solicit, or place advertisements, signs or posters.

   (4)  Ride a nonmotorized vehicle, conveyance or animal, except on roads normally open to public travel, or designated routes as posted, or while lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping or fishing.

   (5)  Ride a nonmotorized vehicle, conveyance or animal from the last Saturday in September until the third Saturday in January, and before 1 p.m. from the second Saturday in April through the last Saturday in May inclusive, except on Sundays or while lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping or fishing.

   (6)  Ride a nonmotorized vehicle, conveyance or animal on roads open to foot travel only.

   (7)  Drive motor vehicles with or without attachments having a registered gross vehicle weight in excess of 12,000 pounds.

   (8)  Use boats propelled by a motor. Battery powered electric motors may be used on waterways unless posted otherwise.

   (9)  Consume, possess or transport any alcohol, liquor, beer, malt or brewed alcoholic beverage.

   (10)  Use or possess any controlled substance as defined or classified under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P. S. §§ 780-101--780-143).

   (11)  Occupy, use or construct, place or maintain structures or other tangible property, except that portable hunting blinds or stands may be used, provided no visible damage is caused to trees.

   (12)  Feed wildlife or lay or place any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals.

   (13)  Release domestic animals, captive bred or captive raised game or wildlife.

   (14)  Operate a motor vehicle in willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property or in excess of posted speed limits, or where no speed limit is posted, in excess of 25 miles per hour.

   (15)  Target shoot with firearms, bows and arrows or devices capable of launching projectiles in a manner that could cause injury to persons or property, or on areas posted closed to those activities.

   (16)  Except as provided in Subchapter J (relating to shooting ranges), discharge any firearm, bow and arrow, or device capable of launching projectiles that is not a lawful device to hunt game or wildlife.

   (17)  Engage in an activity or event involving more than ten persons, which may conflict with the intended purposes or uses as defined in section 722 of the act (relating to use of property), or poses a potential environmental or safety problem.

   (18)  Sell, distribute, deliver, service, guide or rent any equipment, material or commodity or otherwise transact or engage in any commercial activity. Commercial activity is any activity in which a person directly or indirectly accepts consideration of value as compensation for the provision of goods or services, including transportation.

   (19)  Use State game lands for any personal, organizational or commercial purpose other than the intended use as defined in section 722 of the act (relating to use of property).

   (20)  Operate under authority of a contract, lease, agreement or permit and fail to abide by the terms and conditions contained in the contract, lease, agreement or permit.

   (21)  Except on Sundays, be present on State game lands from November 15 through December 15 and fail to wear a minimum of 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange-colored material on the head, chest and back combined or, in lieu thereof, a hat of the same colored material. The material shall be worn so it is visible in a 360° arc. Persons using shooting ranges are exempted from this requirement.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 02-1520. Filed for public inspection August 30, 2002, 9:00 a.m.]

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