Board Enables Agency Greater Flexibility to Purchase Land; Board Approves Items in Centre, Clearfield and Somerset; Board Approves Exchange With Turnpike Commission; Board Approves Coal Refuse Removal/Reclamation Lease
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — To enable Pennsylvania Game Commission staff to act expeditiously to acquire lands, waters, oil, gas and mineral rights, the Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a regulatory change to delegate certain powers to the agency’s executive director.
“Tax sales or auctions often are announced between regular Board of Game Commissioner meetings and are to be held sooner than is practicable to hold a special meeting or notational vote,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “By approving this regulation today, the Board has granted staff the flexibility it needs to bid on real estate, oil, gas or mineral rights at auction, or tax sales, so that we can better protect our State Game Lands system and the investment made in these lands by hunters and trappers.”
Under the regulatory change, the executive director must notify the Board of Commissioners of the pending auction sale date and verify that, due to unforeseen time constraints, it is necessary to be able to react immediately. The purchase price at auction may not exceed $500,000 without additional approval from the majority of the Board of Commissioners, and successful bids must be made known to the general public at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
Additionally, no further action would be necessary on the part of the Board of Commissioners to hold settlement, pay the remainder of the purchase price or consummate the transaction.
BOARD APPROVES ITEMS IN CENTRE, CLEARFIELD AND SOMERSET
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved the purchase of 359 acres in Huston Township, Clearfield County, adjoining State Game Land 331, from The Conservation Fund for $323,100, of which $137,200 will be paid from the Game Fund. The balance will be paid from the Blanche Pollum Estate, whose bequest to the Game Commission stipulated that land be purchased within 15 air miles of DuBois, as well as third party commitments for compensation of habitat and recreational losses from previously approved Commission actions.
As part of the deed, The Conservation Fund reserves all timber and timber rights for 15 years. Specific timber harvesting provisions have been agreed to that follow best management practices for Pennsylvania forests, and all timber harvests will be conducted in close coordination with the Game Commission.
This tract is an indenture into the northwest boundary of SGL 331, and is predominantly forested with mixed northern hardwoods. Wetlands are along the low-lying areas associated with the upper reaches of the Bennett Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek.
In a separate action, the Board approved a land purchase of 85 acres in Howard Township, Centre County, adjacent to the agency’s Howard Nursery, from the Estate of Louise P. Leathers for $386,000. This payment will be made by third party commitments for compensation of habitat and recreational losses from previously approved Game Commission actions.
There is a reservation of a one-inch waterline from an existing springhouse to the property of one of Louise P. Leathers’ heirs. This property also adjoins U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property at the Corps’ Foster Joseph Sayers Dam flood control project. The property has about 45 acres in agricultural fields with the remaining 40 acres in mixed northern hardwoods. The property is easily accessible by way of State Route 150 along the northern border of the property and Dowdy Hole Road, a township road that bisects the property to the south.
Lastly, the Board today accepted a donation of 46 acres of land in Shade Township, Somerset County, near State Game Land 93, from Waste Management, Inc. through the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation.
Waste Management has reserved the oil and gas; however, they have agreed to not utilize any surface for any oil/gas related activities, including the exploration, access, development and transportation of oil or natural gas. Gas extraction will require horizontal drilling from neighboring properties. A mining permit exists with a Stage III bond being held by the Department of Environmental Protection.
The deed will contain language stating that the Game Commission will not accept any liability connected to the acid mine drainage (AMD) discharge that is being actively treated and occurs on the property from past surface mining activities. About 18 acres are wetlands, including open water, emergent and riparian habitat associated with Miller Run that runs through the tract. A conifer plantation and mixed northern hardwoods cover 14 acres. The remaining 14 acres are equally split between grassland and agricultural fields. Access to the property is provided by Burinda Road, which is a township road.
BOARD APPROVES EXCHANGE WITH TURNPIKE COMMISSION
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved a land exchange with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission that will enable it to expand and upgrade an area along Interstate 76 that bisects the northern portion of State Game Land 169 in Upper Mifflin Township, Cumberland County.
This turnpike expansion project will include the taking of about 2.2 acres of SGL 169, which is under restrictions by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania due to being acquired with funding under the Project 70 Act. This will require the exchange with the Turnpike Commission to be approved by the General Assembly, and the Turnpike Commission will serve as the lead agency in seeking approval.
In exchange, the Turnpike Commission will transfer to the Game Commission about 2.2 acres of land that is an indenture to SGL 169, in Upper Mifflin Township, Cumberland County. There is a restriction on this property regarding objections or challenges to the adjoining landfill and its operations. The Turnpike Commission has agreed to obtain a release from the restrictions. If the release is not obtained, the Game Commission will not be obligated to acquire title to the property. The tract has the Conodoquinet Creek as its southern boundary, and is forested with common bottomland species found along riparian corridors.
BOARD APPROVES COAL REFUSE REMOVAL/RECLAMATION LEASE
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved a lease with Susquehanna Haul & Drilling, LLC of Exeter, to mine and remove an abandoned anthracite coal refuse pile disposed on a 12-acre portion of State Game Land 260 in Salem Township, Luzerne County.
The proposed refuse pile removal project will entail about 4.5 acres of abandoned and un-reclaimed refuse pile containing roughly 1.8 million tons of refuse and waste rock material. The remaining lease acreage will be utilized for access to the coal refuse removal site, construction of erosion and sedimentation controls and operational support.
The accumulated royalty value of this proposed project has been calculated at $200,000. Removal and reclamation of the refuse pile will eliminate an abandoned mine hazard and restore the area to its natural condition. Reclamation will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s Surface Coal Mining regulations and the Commission’s coal refuse removal and reclamation lease agreement.
The seven-year lease will include a $15,000 performance bond and environmental protection standards. Further, Susquehanna Haul & Drilling will be obligated to carry out a site specific wildlife habitat and reclamation plan prepared by the Game Commission’s local Land Management Group Supervisor. No merchantable timber is to be affected by this reclamation operation.
In exchange for the coal refuse removal and reclamation lease, Susquehanna Haul & Drilling will pay the Game Commission a minimum advanced royalty payment of $10,000 per year for the first two years. Susquehanna Haul & Drilling also will compensate the agency at a royalty rate of 10 percent F.O.B. pit price or a minimum of $1/ton, whichever the greater, for each and every ton of coal refuse mined and removed from the site.
The lease also will provide a wheelage provision in which Susquehanna Haul & Drilling will pay the Game Commission 25 cents per ton or one percent F.O.B. pit price, whichever the greater, for coal refuse removed from adjacent property and hauled through SGL 260. All revenues generated from this project shall be deposited into the Game Fund.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission