Friday, January 29, 2010
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has taken the first step in allowing Commission staff to purchase land and mineral rights between meetings without board consent. Spokesperson Jerry Feaser says often tax sales are announced and held between board meetings and the commission has been unable to act. Feaser says over the years the commission has acquired lands from individuals and businesses without getting the rights to the oil, gas and other minerals under the land and now that owners are looking to cash out, companies are going out of business and individuals are dying, the rights are being auctioned off or sold at tax sales. He says the commission needs to be able to act quickly to protect the integrity of the game lands it has acquired. Feaser says there are also situations where property adjacent to existing game lands or completely surround by game lands, have come up for sale and developers have been able to purchase them. He says that can impact the usability of the remaining state owned property for hunting and trapping. The board must take a second vote on the rule before it is implemented. Feaser notes there are still controls on the purchases. Under the regulatory change, the executive director must notify the Board of Commissioners of the pending auction sale date and verify that, due to time constraints, it is necessary to act immediately. Also, the purchase price at auction may not exceed $500,000, and successful bids must be put on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners to make sure the public remains informed of the purchase.