Area sites nominated to be part of IMAP
Bats and rats may soon finally get their due.
At the least, both species figure to get some additional attention in western Pennsylvania, courtesy of the Important Mammals Area Project, otherwise known as IMAP.
IMAP is a new conservation effort underway in Pennsylvania. Kicked off last March, it is meant — at least in this first stage — to identify critical mammal habitats.
That process is nearly complete. Alana Hartman, IMAP project coordinator, said a committee of conservation professionals met in September to review site nominations. That group ultimately singled out 44 sites for being exceptional for their diversity, importance to species of special concern, or public education possibilities.
The list was submitted to the Pennsylvania Game Commission Dec. 23. On it are several sites in western Pennsylvania.
Three caves and/or mines that are home to bats locally made the list. One of those sites is in Lawrence County, one is near Brady’s Bend in Armstrong County, and a third is on private land along the Butler/Armstrong county border.
Also making the list was Yellow Creek State Park in Indiana County. It was nominated because of the long-term research carried out there by faculty and students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as for the education programs sponsored by Indiana County’s Friends of the Parks organization.
Portions of Forbes State Forest — namely the Mt. Davis area — made the list because they are home to the West Virginia water shrew. The entire Chestnut and Laurel ridges — from the Fayette County/Maryland border to Indiana County — were included as one site because Allegheny woodrats, a state-threatened species, live there.
Now comes stage two of the IMAP project. To begin next week, it will involve refining the boundaries of each nominated site. That work is expected to take six months to complete.
Stage three — to be carried out if the IMAP projects gets continued funding in July — will focus on the development of conservation plans for two or three pilot sites.
“That’s really the next step, to conserve whatever made the site special,” Hartman said. “The goal is to develop conservation plans for each site.”
Those plans will not impose mandatory conservation measures on any landowner.
“It’s a voluntary program, which is why we can have this humongous Laurel Ridge/Chestnut Ridge site, because not everyone has to participate,” said Hartman, noting that the ridgetop nomination encompasses public and private property.
The IMAP site list will not be a static thing, Hartman said. If some sites turn out to be less critical than thought, they could be removed. Others could be added.
The goal, as it has been from the beginning, will be to get people to pay more attention to the state’s wildlife.
“We’re excited that people did nominate sites, and showed a support for conservation,” Hartman said. “That’s good news for Pennsylvania.”
Rod Ansell, a wildlife conservation officer in Westmoreland County for the Game Commission, had heard a lot of positive remarks about the agency’s youth pheasant hunt.
This year, though, he received some nice comments from a fellow who didn’t even take part.
While visiting a youth hunt in the Loyalhanna area, Ansell saw an older man sitting in his truck, watching the young hunters do their thing. Ansell went over to talk to the man, and see what he was doing.
“Just watching,” the man told him. “My legs don’t work so good and I lost my dog a few years ago, so I don’t hunt pheasants any more. But I like to watch.”
They talked of years gone by, of dogs and hunting, of pheasants, and of young hunters.
“I know from what I saw of the folks in the field, the old gentleman was having a good day just watching and remembering,” Ansell said.
Murrysville officials are reminding everyone that deer hunting will take place in three municipal parks during the late archery and muzzleloader seasons, which run through Jan. 10.
Hunters will be in Kellman Nature Reserve, Townsend Park and Duff Park. They will also be in the municipality’s land along Pleasant Valley Road.
That property is not otherwise open to the public.
Only hunters who passed a proficiency test and have been awarded permits will be allowed. All hunting will be done from tree stands.
Hunting has been allowed in various Murrysville parks for 24 years, with the goal of reducing an overabundance of deer.
So far this year, hunters have taken 50 deer from Murrysville’s various parks.
A McKeesport man has been honored for his creativity.
Dan Svitko has been named the grand prize winner of Boating Magazine’s 11th annual boat name contest. Svitko’s 1992 Sea Ray Sundancer is known as “Sotally Tober.”
The runners-up were Floating Doc, Liquid Medication, Miss Mymoney and Wet-Ever.