Penn State's College of Ag Sciences hopes to purchase more than 1,100 acres of farm and forest land from the State Correctional Institution at Rockview. But the State Game Commission, Fish and Game Commission, the Sierra Club and others oppose the transaction.
Construction of Route 220/I-99 has isolated the tract of land from the rest of the Rockview property. Currently, the land is not being managed, and public access is prohibited. The prison has already transferred 135 acres of the property to the Centre County Industrial Development Corporation.
Gary Swan, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's governmental affairs director, says Farm Bureau supports House Bill 1657, which would permit plots of land totaling 1,850 acres to be acquired by Penn State, Pennsylvania's Fish and Boat Commission and Benner Township.
"Penn State needs continued access to high quality, agricultural and forestlands in order to achieve educational, research and extension missions. This is an important opportunity for the College, due to limited opportunities for further farm acquisitions in the area," added Swan.
"There will be no better caretaker of the land than the College of Agricultural Sciences. Penn State has created and advanced many environmental measures for agriculture that are being applied on farms throughout the Commonwealth," concluded Swan.
How the land would be utilized
Dr. Robert Steele, dean of the College of Ag Sciences, says extensive plans have already been made for utilizing the land. Those plans include:
- Farming practices would employ state-of-art conservation management.
- The acreage would be available for general hunting in keeping with Game Commission regulations.
- The lands would be reopened for public access to educational and passive recreational uses.
Penn State, while not seeking direct ownership of the Spring Creek Canyon environmental area, wants open access to the corridor for research, education and extension programs plus road access.
Once House Bill 1657 clears the House and Senate, Governor Rendell has indicated that he would sign it, according to Steele.