Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pristine Central Pennsylvania Canyon Open To Public

By Associated Press 
Sunday, October 2, 2011

BELLEFONTE -- More than a thousand acres of central Pennsylvania land is now open to hikers, hunters and other nature lovers after being off-limits for decades.
State officials were joined by environmentalists, politicians and others for Friday's dedication ceremony to open access to pristine Spring Creek Canyon to the public.
"Today with the opening of these lands, anglers will be able to fish the entire (canyon) and boaters, hikers, birders and others will be able to experience the scenic beauty of the canyon," said John Arway, executive director of the state Fish & Boat Commission.
Speakers talked -- and often joked -- about how long it took to get the land transfer and agreement for cooperative management for 1,829 acres of land next to Rockview state prison, the Centre Daily Times reported.
Under a measure approved last year, 1,211 acres has gone to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and another 452 acres to Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and 25 to Benner Township under a conservation easement, while the Fish & Boat Commission will continue to have control of Spring Creek and will own 141 acres, most of which it has been leasing since 1951.
Arway said he has never fished on the waters that were closed to the public -- and he hoped others hadn't, either.
"I can tell from the laughter that some of you may have snuck in to do that," he said.
Ed Perry, coordinator of the Spring Creek Canyon Alliance, said the land is an oasis in the middle of two rapidly developing areas.
"This is a miracle that we've pulled this off, that we're going to get this piece of property protected forever," he said after the ceremony.

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, said the project shows the value of people with different opinions being willing to work together to reach a solution.
"To me, it was a living example of how democracy should work," Benninghoff said.

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