Hikers and birdwatchers will be exempt, but members of the Pennsylvania Game Commission are mulling whether to require snowmobilers, horseback riders and cyclists to have a special permit – and pay a fee – when using trails in state game lands.
The panel could approve that policy as early as Sept. 23.
Individuals holding a current hunting or furtaker’s license, the commission website states, would be exempt from buying the special permit. The new permit fee, as explained by the commission, would be to repair damage caused to trails and other areas in state game lands caused by horse use, snowmobile treads and bicycle ruts.
Adult resident hunters are forking over $20.70 and up each year, dependent on what’s being hunted – on game lands and elsewhere – in a particular season. Again, that’s for hunting. Under the commission’s proposal they now would get to hunt, and if so inclined, ride a horse, bicycle or snowmobile over game land trails while non-hunters in the same pursuits would pay $30 for what the commission calls a range permit.
That’s akin to treating a certain class of non-hunters as outlanders. And while there’s little doubt, as the commission claims, that damage to wildlife habitat and resultant upkeep costs can mount very quickly, licensed hunters responsible for similar damage also should have to fork over the $30 permit fee.
That’s simple equity – and fair to all using the trails.