Sun­day hunt­ing bill set to go be­fore House Com­mit­tee

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Mark Demko

Pennsylvan­ia’s Sun­day hunt­ing bill, which would give the Pennsylvan­ia Game Com­mis­sion the author­ity to per­mit hunt­ing on three Sundays a year, will take its next steps when the House Game & Fish­eries Com­mit­tee hears the leg­is­la­tion

Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.

In­tro­duced by Sen. Dan Laugh­lin (R-Erie), along with Jim Brew­ster (D-Al­legheny and West­more­land), SB147 was passed by the state Se­nate June 25 by a 36-14 vote. Al­though the orig­i­nal bill called for up to 14 days of Sun­day hunt­ing, the bill was amended prior to the se­nate vote to per­mit Sun­day hunt­ing on only three days — one dur­ing the firearms deer season, a sec­ond dur­ing the archery deer season and a third date to be de­ter­mined by the PGC.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette, if SB147 moves out of the House Game & Fish­eries Com­mit­tee, it would go to the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives when its mem­bers re­turn from re­cess Sept. 17.

Al­though Sun­day hunt­ing could be im­ple­mented as soon as this fall if Gov. Tom Wolf signs the bill into law, it’s tough to pre­dict whether or not that would hap­pen as the 2019-’20 deer hunt­ing sea­sons be­gin

Sept. 21. PGC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor Travis Lau said ear­lier this sum­mer that the PGC’s com­mis­sion­ers would likely want to in­crease hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I’m not sure what the ac­tual timetable would need be for that to hap­pen this season,” Lau said.

Sup­port­ers of SB147 say the bill will pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with busy sched­ules to head afield, as well as of­fer an ad­di­tional tool to help get young peo­ple in­volved in the sport. Sev­eral groups, such as the Pennsylvan­ia Farm Bureau and the Key­stone Trails As­so­ci­a­tion, re­main op­posed to the bill.

Laugh­lin pre­vi­ously called SB147 “a ma­jor step to­ward in­creas­ing recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties for the thou­sands of Pennsylvan­ia sports­men and women who en­joy hunt­ing.”

“This will re­move one of only two ‘Blue Laws’ re­main­ing in the state of Pennsylvan­ia,” he said. “You can’t hunt and you can’t buy a car on Sun­day in Pennsylvan­ia.”

Pennsylvan­ia is one of only three states in the na­tion — the oth­ers are Maine and Mas­sachusetts — that pro­hibits or se­verely re­stricts hunt­ing for game on Sundays. Only foxes, crows and coy­otes may be legally pur­sued in the Key­stone State on that day.

Wild­lands Con­ser­vancy es­tab­lishes new na­ture pre­serve: A new, 43-acre na­ture pre­serve will be es­tab­lished by the Wild­lands Con­ser­vancy thanks to long­time Con­ser­vancy sup­port­ers Mer­rill and Nancy Brenner. The mostly forested pre­serve is ad­ja­cent to the Wild­lands’ 11-acre Reimert Memo­rial Bird Haven, a bird watch­ing hotspot and area that has sev­eral species of concern.

The Bren­ners have been Con­ser­vancy an­nual fund con­trib­u­tors for more than 20 years and vol­un­teers for over a decade. Their sup­port en­abled the Wild­lands to se­cure the tract, lo­cated be­tween Sweet­wood Drive and Moun­tain Road in Lower Ma­cungie Town­ship, from the Wert­man Fam­ily. In ad­di­tion, the Pennsylvan­ia Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­u­ral Re­sources helped to make the pur­chase pos­si­ble.

“Nancy and I have al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing the re­main­ing forests and open spa­ces in the Le­high Val­ley, and have long wanted to con­serve land for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” says Mer­rill. “We are grate­ful for all that Wild­lands does to pro­tect such lands—im­prov­ing our wa­ter and air and pro­vid­ing ac­cess to na­ture—and to in­spire con­ser­va­tion val­ues. We are very ex­cited to add to the land re­sources that Wild­lands pro­tects and pro­vides for the peo­ple of the Le­high River wa­ter­shed.”

Free veter­ans trout fish­ing event Sept. 21 in Ban­gor: Area veter­ans are in­vited to take part in an all-in­clu­sive fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at Green-Walk Trout Hatchery near Ban­gor Sept. 21, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The event, which is free to veter­ans, is presented by the Ho­k­endauqua Chap­ter of Trout Un­lim­ited, Le­high Val­ley Mil­i­tary Af­fairs Coun­cil and the hatchery. It in­cludes light break­fast, full pic­nic lunch and fully guided fish­ing for trout.

For reg­is­tra­tions, or to learn more, con­tact Phil Hublitz at phil­[email protected] or 610924-5481.

Old growth for­est pro­gram com­ing up: The public has the op­por­tu­nity to learn about one of the Le­high Val­ley’s few old­growth forests, Mat­son’s

Woods, dur­ing a two-part pro­gram presented by Northamp­ton County Di­vi­sion of Parks & Recre­ation Sept. 21.

Part of Louise Moore County Park, Mat­son’s Woods is a 7-acre tract of gi­ant oak trees in­cluded in the Old Growth For­est Net­work (OGFN), a na­tional net­work of pro­tected, old-growth na­tive forests. The event kicks off with a 10 a.m. pre­sen­ta­tion by OGFN Le­high Val­ley Co­or­di­na­tor Greg Huber, who nom­i­nated the tract for the net­work, on the his­tory and value of Mat­son’s Woods and old­growth forests. “A Rarer Than Rare Woods Right in Our Back­yard” will take place at Alumni Hall in the Gates Cen­ter at Northamp­ton Com­mu­nity Col­lege, 3835 Green Pond Rd., Beth­le­hem.

Fol­low­ing Gru­ber’s pre­sen­ta­tion, the group will head to Mat­son’s Woods to see the for­est. Par­tic­i­pants should meet at Moore Park Farm­house, 151 Coun­try Club Rd., Eas­ton. Con­tact Jim Wil­son at JWil­son @northamp­ton­county.org.

Mark Demko is a free­lance writer for The Morn­ing Call.

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