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Keystone Mountain Bikers Could Lose More PA State Gamelands Trails
By Don Andrews
Note: The writer
is Membership Chairman of the newly-forming Keystone Mountain
Bikers, the first statewide club representing mountain biking
interests in Pennsylvania. Mr. Andrews is urging participation in
an important Pennsylvania Game Commission Advisory Committee
meeting on January 25. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Jim Joyce, Editor, The Bicycle Exchange
Read the Bikexchange.com commentary on this issue.
On December 8, 2000 The Pennsylvania Game Commission sent out Press Release # 87-00, which stated in part:
GAME COMMISSION TO REVIEW STATE GAME LANDS REGULATIONS
. . . Executive Director Vern Ross today announced that the agency will seek . . . a review of state game lands regulations to better protect these wild places from misuse and degradation. . .
"The focus of this review is to identify what uses of state game lands have led to degradation or destruction of wildlife habitat or are having negative impacts on nesting or wintering wildlife populations," Ross said. "The review process may ultimately lead to changes in some regulations governing approved activities on the nearly 1.4 million acres of state game lands, nearly all of which were originally purchased with hunters' dollars.
On Sunday, December 17, the Harrisburg Patriot-news published an article about the Game Commission's statement, including this disturbing quote:
"Various problems in uses of lands have been surfacing with increasing regularity. Among these are off-road and off-trail travel of mountain bikers and horseback riders."
With the recent loss of most of State Game Land 145 (Mount Gretna) riding areas, and a knowledge of some poorly-constructed bootleg trails in other State Game Lands, riders immediate saw the writing on the wall.
Fearing the potential loss of all State Game Lands riding areas, we figured that it would be in the best interests of mountain bikers to unite under one "umbrella" organization. With e-mail communication and a forum on Ed Hidden's Keystonebiking.com website, we can keep up-to-date on developments within the PGC.
There are a number of responsible mountain bike clubs in the state: Pa Trail Hands builds and maintains trails in French Creek State Park. Rattling Creek Singletrackers does the same in Conrad Weiser State Forest. Philadelphia Mountain Bike Club takes care of Pennypacker & Wissahicken Parks. Endless Mountains Cycling Club maintains trails in Tiadaghton State Forest. Joe Rogers' Mountain Bikers of Michaux work in that State Forest. Nittany Velo has many hours of trailwork in at Ravenwood Furnace State Park.
Although we feel we're responsible bikers, we are getting tagged with the same label as those who build bootleg trails.
Richard "Rock" Martin was appointed to be on the PGC Advisory Committee, but without an organization, he represents nobody and, without an organization, we have no one to report to and keep informed . We would like to show up at the first meeting (January 25) and be able to say who we are.
Keystone Mountain Bikers might be a "quickly thrown together organization", assembled under emergency conditions, but it will serve us well in the short-term. If we can get a viable, long-term organization out of it for the future, so much the better.
At present, we're working with a mailing list of about 200 mtb riders in the Central Pennsylvania area (State College to Carlisle, Harrisburg & York). We have contacts in Pittsburgh (Karl) and Philadelphia(Wendy) and they have mailing lists of their own. We call on bike dealers and all interested bikers to spread the word.
Let us know what you can do to help. If you have an e-mail list, that can be an immense help in contacting riders who may not be aware of the problem in our State Game Lands. We have an image problem with PGC, and it's going to take everything we have to counter that image. An organization is a good start.
Don Andrews, Membership Chairman
Keystone Mountain Bikers
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