The landscape of snowmobiling could be changing if you ride the trails of Pennsylvania’s State Forests. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has been mandated by legislation to find a solution to the lack connectivity between the Bloody Skillet ATV area and the Whiskey Springs ATV area both of which are located in the Sproul State Forest, Clinton County with Bloody Skillet extending into Center County. In addition to the connectivity issue DCNR is responding to increasing demands for ATV riding throughout Pennsylvania’s state forests. ATV riding in Pennsylvania state forests is only permitted on designated ATV trails.
Currently, State forest roads and state parks are not open to ATV riding. In order to do so, DCNR must lift the moratorium that exists for developing any new ATV trails. Therefore, DCNR has written a new ATV Trail Policy and is requesting public response no later than Friday, March 27, 2020. Public response should be submitted to PaForester@pa.gov.
I encourage of all of you to read the new DCNR ATV Trail Policy. (PDF), attached. The policy will allow for DCNR to consider new ATV trials and connectors on State forest lands. I specifically asked during a recent Snowmobile ATV Advisory Council meeting (SAAC) if designated snowmobile only trails would also be considered by DCNR in addition to State forest roads. The response I received “all options are on the table”.
Given that response, I am asking all registered snowmobilers to consider what ATV use of snowmobile only trails may look like. Form your response in a thoughtful, meaningful and productive manner and let DCNR know how you feel about what this may do to your riding experience. Besides responding to DCNR, also talk to your local clubs and encourage them to also respond to the policy and just as important contact your local Legislator and PSSA Regional Director and have a discussion with them.
State facts in your response or discussions:
- A total 2,876 miles of State Forest joint use roads and designated snowmobile only trials exist on State forest lands.
- The proposed Policy Enforcement and Safety paragraphs pg. 4 – 6 states “The Department, in the best interest of visitors and staff, does not consider State forest roads to be a viable option for ATV connectors or trail systems….”
- 975 miles of designated snowmobile only trails have the possibility of being the only consideration for ATV use.
- Restricted receipts funds are split 85% to ATV riding and 15% to snowmobile riding
- ATV season is the Friday before Memorial Day until the last full weekend in September.
- Some state forests also allow for winter ATV riding that coincides with snowmobile season.
What are your ideas for maintaining trails after the ATV season? How do you feel monies should be allocated from restricted receipts for snowmobile trail maintenance? Would you want new ATV trails or connectors be open to snowmobile use? If so, would want them to be built in a manner that would allow for joint use of snowmobile and maintained by DCNR groomers?
Above are some of the questions that you may wish to consider when writing a response. You probably have many more you may already be thinking about and may want to discuss with your club, your local legislator, and your PSSA Regional Director. Remember, write a response that supports your ideas for making your riding experience in the State forest lands enjoyable and sustainable for years to come. Please be sure to provide your ATV Policy response to DCNR at PAForester@pa.gov no later then March 27, 2020.
PSSA Director – Region 10