HARRISBURG — Hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts heading into Pennsylvania’s state-owned woodlands this autumn will find additional roads open in 18 of the 20 state forest districts, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced this week.
“This improved accessibility, coupled with our promotion of deer hunting, benefits forest regeneration and the overall ecosystem,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “As a result, DCNR is opening 516 miles of state forest roads normally open only for administrative use. They again will be available to hunters, hikers, foliage viewers, and others visiting state forestlands this fall.”
More than 3,000 miles of state forest roadways will be open during the statewide archery deer season, which opens Saturday and closes Saturday, Nov. 16. They will continue to stay open through other hunting seasons continuing into January 2020.
“Regardless of whether they seek deer, bear, turkey or small game, hunters in our state forests will find more than 90 percent of that land now is within one-half mile of an open road,” said Dunn.
With the hunter in mind, DCNR and the Pa. Game Commission continue to update a new interactive map of state forestlands and game lands across Pennsylvania. The map offers information on the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) and Disease Management Areas, and details on newly opened roads, timber harvesting activity, forestry office contacts, and more.
Meanwhile, top-quality hunting is offered at many state parks — especially those in the 12.5-county Pennsylvania Wilds region — where state forestland often surrounds them. Inexpensive camping can be found at many of those parks.
Primitive camping on state forestlands also is an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping or hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, are required when camping on state forestlands on designated sites.
Many of these campsites are close to state parks and forestlands enrolled in the Pa. Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed.
Hunters are reminded the Pennsylvania Game Commission has established Disease Management Areas (DMAs) to reduce the risk of spreading chronic wasting disease. Three DMAs currently exist in Pennsylvania; however, newly confirmed cases can alter the boundaries. All or portions of Buchanan, Gallitzin, Rothrock, Tuscarora, Michaux, Bald Eagle, Moshannon, and William Penn state forests, as well as several state parks, fall within DMAs 2, 3, and 4.
Hunters harvesting deer in a DMA should be aware special rules and regulations apply, and they should have their deer tested for the disease. Additional information on CWD is provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Also, hunters traveling to some northcentral areas of the state are reminded hunting areas and travel routes may be impacted by last year’s severe weather and/or Marcellus Shale-related activities. Some state forest roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety hazards. A few roads are closed long-term for reconstruction. Travelers are reminded to check state forest advisory pages for potential closures.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s 20 state forest districts and 121 state parks, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov. The new interactive state forest map can be viewed at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/deer/openroads/index.htm.