HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hunters heading into Pennsylvania's state forests for the Nov. 19 opening of black bear season may find some roads newly opened while others remain closed for a number of reasons, Bureau of Forestry Director Dan Devlin announced today.
"Hunters should check in advance with our state forest districts about their travel plans and access to favorite hunting grounds," Devlin said. "We encourage them to visit our new website listing state forest roads, trails and hunting areas that may be closed or altered due to gas drilling activities, road construction, timber harvesting and flooding."
Meanwhile, an additional 442 miles of state forest roads in 18 of the 20 state forest districts will be open for the statewide four-day bear season, Nov. 19 and Nov. 21-23. Throughout the state's other hunting seasons, running into January 2012, hunters will find more than 3,000 miles of state forest roadways open.
"With the approach of the state's traditional white-tailed deer hunting season, starting Nov. 28, the Bureau of Forestry again will be opening many roads that normally are gated and locked," Devlin said. "We hope to improve accessibility while promoting hunting in often remote areas where hunting pressure is needed to benefit forest regeneration and the overall ecosystem.
"Whether in pursuit of deer, bear or turkey, 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 Devlin, who is an avid hunter.
DCNR officials remind hunters that many state parks, especially those in the 12-county Pennsylvania Wilds region, offer inexpensive camping and access to top-quality hunting in nearby public forestlands. Primitive camping in state forests also is an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping/hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, are required when camping on state forestlands.
In addition, many of these campsites are near state parks and forestlands enrolled in the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed. Hunters are advised to check with state forests district headquarters or state park offices about availability.
Devlin noted the opening of some state forest roads always will be governed by local weather and road conditions. He suggested hunters contact district offices in advance for the most up-to-date information.
Some state forest roads only will be opened for the second week of the traditional deer season because they cannot withstand the expected heavy traffic of the first week. Two- or three-month long openings will be in effect only where there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
A listing of open roads, effective dates and district office telephone numbers can be found online at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/deer/openroads/index.htm; or by calling state forest district offices.
On state forest roads near drilling sites, visitors may notice increased truck traffic. To aid public access, DCNR will attempt to limit or restrict truck traffic at the outset of major hunting and fishing seasons. For details, visit http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/naturalgasexploration/index.htm; click on "Natural Gas Development, Public Access and Recreation."
For advisories and updates on road conditions and activities in state forest districts, visit http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/stateforests/roadadvisories/index.htm.
Camping opportunities and details can be found on the "Find a Forest" and "Find a Park" pages at www.dcnr.state.pa.us.
Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources