Pennsylvania’s main hiking group is considering helping the Game and Fish and Boat commissions, but isn’t budging on Sunday hunting.
The Game and Fish and Boat commissions may both get some help from an unfamiliar source: the Keystone Trails Association. It is the group that represents the state’s organized hikers.
But don’t ask about Sunday hunting.
One of the Association’s board members, secretary Jim Foster, wrote a letter to his fellow members suggesting they buy hunting licenses, whether they intend to hunt or – more likely – don’t.
Foster pointed out that the group has opposed suggestions that hikers should have to buy some kind of access permit to hike on state game lands, or SGLs, as he called them. He said he supports that position.
Yet he bought a hunting license this past year, he said.
“We don’t want to be forced to pay to hike on SGLs. But it costs our friends at the PGC a lot of money to maintain these lands. Unlike state parks and state forests, SGLs do not receive direct taxpayer funds to support them; they’re instead supported mostly from license fees and an excise tax on guns and ammunition,” Foster wrote.
Sportsmen and hikers hold the same position on many issues, he added. That includes protecting the environment, preserving wild spaces and protecting wildlife habitats.
“So here is my simple proposal for you to consider. If you do a significant portion of your hiking on SGLs, and if you can afford it, consider paying $20.70 to purchase a hunting license. Doing so will help preserve some of the best places to hike,” he wrote.
At the same time Trails Association is considering whether to partner with the Fish and Boat Commission on its unassessed waters initiative. That’s an effort to sample streams across the state to determine what swims in them.
The commission wants to know how many Association-member clubs might be willing to participate.
The trail group has asked members who might be interested to contact executive director Joe Neville.
Now, as for Sunday hunting, the Association remains adamantly opposed.
Neville – a former employee of the Game Commission, which supports Sunday hunting – recently addressed members in the group’s newsletter, saying that, “unfortunately,” there’s a push being made to lift the state’s prohibition on Sunday hunting.
“KTA has long advocated against expansion of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania,” Neville wrote.
He suggested members contact their lawmakers and reiterate that position.