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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 23-394




[ 58 PA. CODE CHS. 131 AND 135 ]

Preliminary Provisions; Definitions; Lands and Buildings; State Game Lands

[53 Pa.B. 1668]
[Saturday, March 25, 2023]

 To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission) at its January 28, 2023, meeting amends §§ 131.2 and 135.41 (relating to definitions; and State game lands) to restrict the operation of boats propelled by electric motors on waterways owned or controlled by the Commission to slow, no-wake speed.

 This final-form rulemaking will not have an adverse impact on the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.

 The authority for this final-form rulemaking is 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to Game and Wildlife Code) (code).

 Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 52 Pa.B. 6870 (November 5, 2022).

1. Purpose and Authority

 With the advancements being made to electric marine motors and the batteries that they use, the Commission has revisited its regulations relating use of these devices on waterways owned or controlled by the Commission. Today's electric motors are more powerful than the electric motors that existed when the regulations were created. The Commission's applicable boating regulations were originally created to limit conflict with other users and the impact that gasoline motors have on the environment through pollution, gasoline spills, erosion and related issues. However, these regulations never contemplated the use of the newer high horsepower (HP) electric motors that are now available. Current costs of the newer electric motors are relatively high (Example: 50 HP electric outboard motor is currently around $8,500, plus a matching deep cycle battery costs of around $5,000). The Commission anticipates that, while costs of this newer technology remain high today, these costs will eventually come down and the use and availability of these devices will become more prolific. In an effort to be proactive, the Commission amends §§ 131.2 and 135.41 to restrict the operation of boats propelled by electric motors on waterways owned or controlled by the Commission to slow, no-wake speed. The Fish and Boat Commission has recently adopted similar changes to their regulations on electric motors by limiting the operation of electric motors to slow, no-wake speeds.

 Section 721(a) of the code (relating to control of property) provides ''The administration of all lands and waters owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the commission shall be under the sole control of the director, and the commission shall promulgate regulations consistent with the purpose of this title for its use and protection as necessary to properly manage these lands or waters.'' The amendments to §§ 131.2 and 135.41 are adopted under this authority.

2. Regulatory Requirements

 This final-form rulemaking amends §§ 131.2 and 135.41 to restrict the operation of boats propelled by electric motors on waterways owned or controlled by the Commission to slow, no-wake speed.

3. Persons Affected

 Persons wishing to use boats propelled by electric motors on waterways owned or controlled by the Commission will be affected by this final-form rulemaking.

4. Comment and Response Summary

 There were no official comments received regarding this final-form rulemaking.

5. Cost and Paperwork Requirements

 This final-form rulemaking should not result in any additional cost or paperwork.

6. Effective Date

 This final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.

7. Contact Person

 For further information regarding this final-form rulemaking, contact Jason L. DeCoskey, Director, Bureau of Wildlife Protection, 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 act of July 31, 1968 (P.L. 769, No. 240) (45 P.S. §§ 1201 and 1202), referred to as the Commonwealth Documents Law, and the regulations thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2 (relating to notice of proposed rulemaking required; and adoption of regulations).

 (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 Chapters 131 and 135, are amended by amending §§ 131.2 and 135.41 to read as set forth in Annex A, with ellipses referring to the text of the existing regulations.

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

 (c) This order shall become effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Executive Director

Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48-490 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A




§ 131.2. Definitions.

 In addition to the definitions contained in section 102 of the act (relating to definitions), the following words and terms, when used in this part or in the act, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

*  *  *  *  *

Single projectile ammunition—A cartridge or shell ammunition that is loaded with a single projectile designed to remain intact upon discharge from a firearm.

Slow, no wake speed—The slowest possible speed of a motorboat required to maintain maneuverability so that the wake or wash created by the motorboat on the surface of the water is minimal.

Special firearms deer season—Any firearms deer season, except muzzleloader season, that precedes the regular firearms deer season.

*  *  *  *  *



§ 135.41. State game lands.

*  *  *  *  *

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

*  *  *  *  *

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

 (8) Use a boat propelled by a motor or operate a boat in excess of slow, no wake speed. Boats propelled by electric motors are authorized for use on waterways when operated at slow, no-wake speed unless the waterway is otherwise posted closed to all boats or all boats propelled by a motor.

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

*  *  *  *  *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 23-394. Filed for public inspection March 24, 2023, 9:00 a.m.]

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