Pennsylvania Theft, I mean Game Commission Steals Land
Here is an interesting letter received by a reader who is in quite a mix with the PGC:
Hello. My name is Russ Gooding. As a full time craftsman and educator in the fishing industry, I’m put in the ironic position of being a sportsman who must defend his land against the PA Game Commission. My wife and I own land adjacent to State Gamelands #46 in Northern Lancaster County, a portion of which the PA Game Commission is now aggressively claiming as their own. I have four major points I’d like to address at this time.
- My wife & I are the landowners of this tiny piece of land – this is confirmed by our certified survey and by the letter of certification and verification issued by Diehm & Sons, Incorporated, surveyors, on February 10th. The strip of land, which the Game Commission is spending thousands and thousands of dollars to claim, is only about 15 feet wide by 253 feet long.
- We are vastly upset by the failure of the PA Game Commission to notify us of the boundary dispute and by their failure to be neighborly and to seek a common middle ground prior to sending surveyors onto our land. The employees of the PA Game Commission have been consistently arrogant about their right to this piece of land. The resident land manager, Jim Binder, told me that the land was his and if I wanted to dispute that, I should hire an attorney. Later, while on the contested land, he encouraged me to take my best shot at having him fired. Because of these actions and others, a petition will be circulating in Clay Township which will urge our state and local legislators to hold a public meeting in order to subject Mr. Binder’s activities to close public scrutiny. In short, if he is found wanting as a public employee, we would like to see him replaced by a community-minded individual.
- PA Game Commission press secretary, Jerry Feaser, in an effort to discredit my legitimate claim to this land insinuated on Bob Durgin’s talk radio show last week that I was mistaken in thinking I owned the land due either to faulty survey work or to a fraudulent land sale. Tim Diehm continues to stand by his workmanship as a surveyor, noting in fact that our survey was based upon the fixed points of the earth as determined by the earlier Game Commission survey. The PA Game Commission survey from the 1920s was probably carried out with measuring chains over rough ground; Mr. Diehm’s survey used computers and satellite data from the GIS. Geological Information Survey. At what point will the Game Commission recognize, as all other rational observers have recognized, that our survey is legitimate? As for a fraudulent land sale, I know the names of the most recent two former land owners of the 1560 Kleinfeltersville Road property going back to the 1930’s: John Hershey & Gary Kolp. I would like the PA Game Commission to name a name – which of these two citizens is the criminal who fraudulently sold me this bit of land? If our survey is not faulty and these men are not criminals, then there is one other legitimate explanation for the dispute. Quite simply, the stream bed moved to the east by several feet over the past 77 years, a minor twitch in geologic terms. The question, then, becomes this: which holds sway, boundaries based on the archaic standard of a mobile streambed or boundaries based upon the modern notion of fixed points and measured courses as determined by the latest and most accurate surveying technology?
- The PA Game Commission asserted in Larry Alexander’s Intelligencer Journal article on February 14th that it is spending resources – time and money – in order to protect the investment of the state’s sportsmen. It must be noted that my wife and I don’t merely let the public onto the land in question, we encourage them to use it and specifically wish the angler’s good luck! Further, the budget-challenged PA Game Commission is largely funded by license sales to their primary constituency, the hunters, and those hunters can not use this thin swath of land because every square inch of it lies within the no-hunting safety zone due to the dwellings along the eastern bank of the Middle Creek.
I have been accused by the PA Game Commission of stirring up a hornet’s nest. I disagree. A few of the PA Game Commission’s employees stirred up this hornet’s nest when they followed their arrogant trespasses with more arrogant words. I ask that every concerned landowner & taxpayer, every sportsman and sportswoman, please call your state legislators and ask them to tame the PA Game Commission, by reducing their allotment of tax dollars if necessary, then call Jerry Feaser, the PA Game Commission Press Secretary, and let him know your views on this indefensible land grab. His office number is (717) 705-6541
a) GIS = Geographical Information System.
GPS = Global Positioning System
Just an fyi so you have your terms straight.
b)”The question, then, becomes this: which holds sway, boundaries based on the archaic standard of a mobile streambed or boundaries based upon the modern notion of fixed points and measured courses as determined by the latest and most accurate surveying technology? ”
Sounds like something a lawyers, judges or courts need to decide so why don’t we wait until then instead of raising cain now?
c) PGC doesn’t receive an allotment of tax dollars.
We are always so quick to jump on the Blame Commission instead of waiting to see what is worked out.
I sympathize with Mr. Gooding. But like most readers, we cannot analyze his case from this distance. Obviously, sir, you are headed to court. Good luck.
Mr. Feaser & PA Game Commissioners:
As a PA licensed hunter and avid fisherman, I am disturbed by the actions of the Commission in attempting to seize land from a local taxpayer, sportsman, hunter, fisherman, and one of the finest bamboo rod builders in the country. Russ Gooding is an example of the ideal sportsman in every aspect of his life. The Commission continuously expounds upon the need for hunters to establish and maintain good relations with private land owners at all times. YOU HAVE BROKEN YOUR OWN CARDINAL RULE, and alienated one of our own! The Commission has failed miserably in their mission, in this case. First, you have alienated a landowner. To usurp this 15 foot strip of property serves no purpose to a hunter, since one cannot utilize this tiny bit of property given current safety zone regulations and proximity to a dwelling. Second, you have incited public resentment at a time when the Commission needs more sportsman support and is faltering financially. Consequently, the Commission is wasting valuable sportsman resources (money, time, and public support) persisting in this endeavor. Third, the Commission has apparently failed is administering good survey procedures; stewards of the outdoors understand that the forest is a living organism which changes over time; streams and rivers have sculpted the face of the earth! Mr. Gooding’s survey was performed using the Commission’s own fixed points, the fundamental basis for surveying. Mr. Gooding purchased the property in good faith with a valid survey and has been paying taxes based on these boundaries. It seems logical that the Commission should have contested these issues long before, if your policy of marking boundaries every five years or so is correct, as reported by the Intelligencer Journal. It also seems logical that the Commission would have a financial restitution obligation in this matter Looking at the big picture, not only has the Commission fostered public resentment; its actions may impair access to game lands and Middle Creek by persisting in this endeavor. What is to stop local land owners from posting or restricting access from their properties to this wonderful resource? We as sportsman need to work together and the Commission represents sportsman and our beloved resource. Current Commission actions only promote divisiveness and public resentment besides being fiscally unsound! I implore you to cease and desist in this endeavor. Admit a mistake, live by your own guidelines, and apologize to the Gooding’s. These actions will build public support for the Commission’s overall mission, not the current course you are on.
Seriously Concerned Sportsman