To enable Pennsylvania Game Commission staff to act expeditiously to acquire lands, waters, oil, gas and minerals rights, the board of game commissioners gave final approval at Tuesday's quarterly meeting 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," executive director Carl Roe said. "By approving this regulation, 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.

In other land-related matters, the board of commissioners 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 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 PGC approximately 2.2 acres of land that is an indenture to SGL 169 in Upper Mifflin Township, Cumberland County.

Also, the board of commissioners approved a lease with Susquehanna Haul and 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.

In exchange for the coal refuse removal and reclamation lease, Susquehanna Haul and Drilling will pay the PGC a minimum advanced royalty payment of $10,000 per year for the first two years. It 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.

Finally, the board of commissioners unanimously approved a resolution urging caution regarding development of Marcellus Shale gas resources on the agency's State Game Lands system. Development of Marcellus Shale gas resources on the State Game Land system will be accomplished with great prudence, minimum disruption to State Game Lands, replacement of disturbed lands, and long term sustainability of revenues for the wildlife mission.

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Ed Kennedy, owner of Ed's Sports Shop, Tamaqua, will discuss spring gobbler hunting as today's guest of Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz on "Experience the Outdoors," from 7:30-8 a.m. on Oldies 1410-AM. A rebroadcast will be heard Sunday from 9:30-10 a.m. on WMGH, 105.5-FM, and is available on the Web at www.wmgh.com http://www.wmgh.com/ by clicking on the "Experience the Outdoors" link.

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A 3-D course is open for public use from dawn to dusk at Bear's Head Sportsmen's Association, Delano, located off Exit 134 of Interstate 81, daily through Saturday, Oct. 23. Donations are accepted and for information call the clubhouse at 570-467-0331 or e-mail docblazer@verizon.net mailto:docblazer@verizon.net .

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A Second Amendment Rally will be held, Tuesday, April 27, beginning at 10 a.m., outside the rotunda of the State Capitol in Harrisburg. There will be nearly a dozen nationally known speakers, including several from the National Rifle Association. For information, access the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association at www.pafoa.org http://www.pafoa.org/ .

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A trap shoot will be held, Thursday, April 29, beginning at 6 p.m., at Orwigsburg Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 443 East, Orwigsburg. For information, e-mail jafone@comcast.net mailto:jafone@comcast.net .

Tubmill Trout Club will hold a statewide "Top Tom Spring Gobbler Hunt," Saturday, May 1-Monday, May 31, with the online registration deadline, Friday, April 30. For information, call the club at 724-235-9798 or access on the Web at www.tubmilltroutclub.org http://www.tubmilltroutclub.org/ .

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This year's Empire State Lake Ontario Tournament dates have been announced. Here is the schedule: Spring, Friday, April 30-Sunday, May 9; Summer, Saturday, June 19-Sunday, July 18; Fall, Friday, Aug. 20-Monday, Sept. 6. For information and registration, access on the Web at www.loc.org http://www.loc.org/ or call (888) 733-5246.

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Locust Valley Fish and Game "Hunters Night Out" will be held, Saturday, May 8, beginning at 4 p.m. at Ryan Township Fire Company Hall, 945 Barnesville Drive, Barnsville. For information, call Dave Morgan at 570-467-3047.

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First Frontier Militia, the muzzleloader arm of Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, will hold muzzleloader shoots Sunday, May 9, June 13, July 11, Aug. 6, Sept. 12, Oct. 9 and 10, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club is located on Gun Club Road, off Route 248, Bowmanstown. For information, call Roger Fisher at 610-377-2812.

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A "Native Plant Sale" will be held, Saturday and Sunday, May 15 and 16, at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton. For information and required registration, call the visitor center at 610-756-6961.

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This year's Bear Creek Festival will be held, Sunday, May 16, from noon-4 p.m., at Schuylkill County Fairground, Route 895, Summit Station. For information, call Pat McKinney at 570-622-4124, ext. 113, e-mail porcupinepat@yahoo.com mailto:porcupinepat@yahoo.com or access on the Web at www.schuylkillonthemove.com http://www.schuylkillonthemove.com/ .