The State Game Commission is working on proposed regulations preventing hiking on game lands for 130 days during hunting season and requiring adult hikers to apply for free permits to use game lands on non-hunting days.
This follows a disturbing trend of creating more barriers to outdoor exercise. Nationally, the alarming increase in obesity affects our military readiness, and it is directly linked to lack of outdoor exercise. In 1969, 41 percent of children walked or biked to school, while today only 13 percent do the same. American adults on average exercise two hours a week, which is half the time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
The proposed regulations allow exemptions for approved through-trails on game lands, but the exemption would not include access trails to get to the approved trails.
Hunters are the primary users of state game lands, much of which were paid for through hunting related permits and taxes. Hikers must respect the needs of hunters and not disturb the land. However, just as most state parks welcome hunters, state game lands should continue to extend a similar courtesy to hikers.
The requirement of applying for a free permit to hike on non-hunting days seems particularly absurd. With tight state budgets, why burden already overworked state employees? This is government overreach at its worst, gathering a page of information just to allow someone to walk. This places a time consuming barrier to healthy exercise and takes the spontaneity out of visiting Penn’s Woods.
Matthew J. Kane