Upgrades Abound On State Forestland
In hopes of improving recreational opportunities for sportsmen, hikers and even all-terrain vehicle trail riders, numerous upgrades and alterations to state forestland are on the schedule for this fall in Fulton County.
Possibly the most notable of the ongoing improvements is the recent completion of roadway repairs in Brush Creek Township by the Bureau of Forestry. Making headlines repeatedly throughout the summer months, the condition and actual ownership of the Boorman Road was both a hot topic and a sore subject for year-round residents and weekend warriors owning property along the dirt road.
Filled with questions, residents met with county commissioners, the Bureau of Forestry and Pennsylvania Game Commission officials to determine who should be held responsible for filling potholes and severe ruts caused by water erosion.
At the time, Buchanan State Forest District Forester Jim Smith informed the group that during the 1930s access to that particular area was needed for fire suppression and timber management. However, several decades later state forest- and gamelands were consolidated. With the Boorman Road no longer bordering any state forestland, Smith concluded there was no further reason for the Bureau of Forestry to continue utilizing the existing rightof way agreement with landowners.
Following the July meeting, Smith told the "News" foresters went to the drawing board and devised a plan to "fulfill an obligation" based on the landowners pressing concerns as well as the bureau's long history of maintaining and utilizing the dirt road located off Camp Meeting Road.
A five-person Bureau of Forestry crew worked for four days utilizing heavy equipment ranging from backhoes and bulldozers to graders to re-establish ditches and tail ditches and clean culverts along the Boorman Road. At the conclusion of their work on Thursday, September 25, Smith stated the end result is a much smoother roadway for local residents and a "clean slate" for the bureau.
"We felt we had some sort of obligation after hearing the residents concerns and issues," said Smith, who added effective Friday, October 3, the Bureau of Forestry is giving up its right-of-way to the Boorman Road. Letters are being sent to landowners this week apprising them of the bureau's decision.
As a result of the bureau's decision to abandon its right-of-way, ownership and future maintenance issues will rest solely on the shoulders of property owners adjoining Boorman Road. Therefore, periodic maintenance to avoid water runoff and maintain the integrity of the existing dirt roadway will need to be addressed. Former Glatfelter property
With fall archery season for whitetails getting under way Saturday, Buchanan State Forest recreation forester Steve Keiper reported the former Glatfelter property located in Knobsville is a perfect location for sportsmen wishing to harvest deer, turkey and even small game.
The 590-acre parcel straddles Route 522 north of McConnellsburg and adjoins Cowans Gap State Park to the east. It was purchased by The Conservation Fund and turned over to the Bureau of Forestry following ongoing talks with the Fulton County commissioners and plenty of input from area residents supporting the transaction.
Keiper stated two safety zones bordering Washabaugh and Covert properties are in existence but there is still plenty of acreage on the eastern side of the roadway for sportsmen. The western side would prove to be a more difficult area to deer hunt and is definitely better suited for small game, said Keiper, who added both rabbits and turkey abound in this newest area of the Buchanan State Forest.
Even though there are currently no developed sites for parking, parking areas will eventually be centrally located on the eastern side for hunting and recreation after safety improvements are made to a bridge. It is hoped the parking areas will be open for public use by the start of fall bear and white-tailed deer rifle seasons. Motorized vehicle access will be restricted in those areas beyond the proposed parking areas in order to maintain ample hunting
opportunities. No-hunting signs that were previously posted across the property are being removed, and boundary lines are currently marked with orange paint and ribbons. Those same markings will eventually be painted white.
The Glatfelter property will also be the future site of the bureau's new office building. A "scoping meeting" has been conducted, and it has been determined the new facility will be located on the western side of Route 522. The next steps, District Forester Smith noted, will include the selection of an architect and review of existing building plans and future needs. Actual construction is anticipated to begin within the next two years. Kerper Tract bridge
Supplies are in hand and work is scheduled to begin next week on setting abutments for the installation of a foot bridge across Big Cove Creek on the popular Kerper Tract located in Big Cove Tannery. The 70-foot bridge estimated at $38,400 will offer handicapped accessibility and will also include a single-space, ADA-approved parking spot at its entrance upon its tentative completion date at the conclusion of October.
In conjunction with the improvement at the Kerper Tract, Keiper and Smith said plans are to offer an educational interpretive center on the west side of Big Cove Creek. By working with and receiving input from officials with area school dis- tricts, Smith said the area will offer a perfect alternative to the districts' existing science curriculums.
Limited parking in that area will also be assessed and hopefully revised to accommodate use by multiple vehicles or a bus. Welsh Road parking lot
In the southern most tip of Brush Creek Township where parking is at a premium for sportsmen and hikers, an ongoing parking issue is slated to reach its final resolution this week. The creation of a parking lot began on Monday by converting a former log landing along Welsh Road, which connects to Spade and Rice roads.
Keiper said the lack of parking was addressed due to motorists having limited availability to off-road space as a result of the steep mountainside. In accordance with the new parking lot that will be created with minimal disturbance to the area, an old trail will be reopened leading from the parking lot.
Eventually, the bureau plans to expand its existing recreational plan to link that area with bordering state gamelands. Sideling Hill ATV trails
In other recreation matters, three existing all-terrain vehicles trails on Sideling Hill have been rerouted from areas that were eroded and rough for trail riders. By utilizing a portion of a $51,000 PA Recreational Trails Grant, the bureau is now providing a "safer and more enjoyable ride" to ATV enthusiasts, Keiper said. In addition, by reworking the trails utilizing their own employees, the bureau was able to save monies and will be able to return a portion of their grant funding back to the state. Furthermore, in responding to requests from trail riders, plans have been established to install a single-stall latrine for Sideling Hill ATV trail riders.