(WTAJ)- Firewood cutting may not be as simple as its been in the past. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Game Commission joined together to receive a permit from the US Fish and Wildfire Service to protect the federally endangered Indiana bat and federally threatened northern long-eared bat.
This restriction will limit firewood cutting on certain state forest roads from May 15 to August 31. Typically during this period, bats are roosting their young and forming maternity colonies..
These restrictions are a part of the Bat Habitat Conservation Plan, which was a requirement to get the permit. The plan protects and minimizes the impact on the endangered species while maintaining forest activities.
Standing dead trees and loose bark next to the sun are the most concerning parts, according to Rebecca Bowen, Division Chief of Conservation Science and Ecological Resources at DCNR. That is because mothers will have their babies in these areas, and babies don’t form until late August.
“It’s really important that those trees stay standing while the bats are being born and reared,” Bowen said. “Those standing dead trees along roadways that get a lot of sun exposure are really what we’re trying to protect with the firewood.”
State Forest Parks affected during the summer months include Bald Eagle, Buchanan, Elk, Forbes, Gallitzin, Loyalsock, Michaux, Moshannon, Pinchot, Rothrock, Sproul, Tiadaghton, Tioga Tuscarora, and William Penn.
For certain areas, roads may be unavailable during the spring and fall months. Bald Eagle, Pinchot, and Rothrock also restrict cutting between April 1 through May 14 and September 1 through November 1. For these areas, bats will tend to emerge from hibernation, congregate, roost and mate.
These roads were chosen based on data collected for the DCNR that determines which areas are the most suitable habitats for the animal. Factors that were considered included slope, sun exposure, or how close they are to water.
Any individual that cuts wood during the summer months may want to plan and cut during colder months. The DCNR anticipated there being a disruption. But they hope that there’s enough opportunity to cut wood during another time of the year.
“The majority of people that cut their firewood will be in the cold period of the year,” Bowen said. “So, we hope it’s not too much disruption.”
To know which specific roads are affected by the restriction, contact your local district office. Additional information can be found on the Bat HCP FAQ Page.
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