The folks in Harrisburg have been busy over the last few weeks.

Some of the news is good. But a lot of it is bad. What happens next will impact generations of Pennsylvanians to come.

We'll start with the good news. On Nov. 1, the governor signed a bill that ensures landowners don't feel the pinch if a guest on their property commits a hunting violation. It's common-sense legislation. If a farmer let's a person hunt on his property and that person kills one too many squirrels, the new law makes sure the farmer can't be held liable for the violation.

The law was not created to lessen the reach of law enforcement. Instead, it's all about working to increase hunter access to private lands. The theory is if landowners have reduced liability, they'll be more willing to let others hunt their property.

"Most hunting in Pennsylvania is done on private property, and this law will encourage farmers and landowners to keep their property open to hunters," said Rep. Neal P. Goodman, who helped introduce the bill.

The question now is will the bill work? Will landowners suddenly yank down their posted signs and invite the public onto their property with open arms? You and I both know the answer.

While the law certainly doesn't hurt, it's not going to change the face of hunting in Pennsylvania. Landowners will remain skeptical of allowing hunters on their property.

Let's not forget a similar bill that was passed in 2007. That law removed landowners from any liability for accidents or injuries caused by somebody hunting on their land.


Again, while it was a smart piece of legislation, it didn't suddenly give hunters access to huge swaths of once-posted land.

It was good. But it wasn't great. That's the case with the new law passed this month. It will help hunters, but it's certainly not a miraculous new law.

The second piece of legislation crawling through Harrisburg has far worse implications. It's bad news all around. The so-called Endangered Species Coordination Act would give a panel of politicians -- not biologists -- the final say in declaring any wildlife an endangered species. You don't have to be a political junkie to see the trouble that could brew if this dangerous bill becomes law.

Earlier this week, the Game and Fisheries Committee voted 16-8 to send the full bill to the House for a vote. What happens from here is anybody's guess. The bill could be voted on and passed immediately or it could flounder on the floor and never get a vote.

With strong backing by developers and the gas industry, there's a good chance the bill will move forward. If it does, it will be very difficult for any of Pennsylvania's wildlife to be listed as threatened or endangered within the state. The proposed law will benefit drillers and developers. It will not benefit sportsmen or the generations of Pennsylvanians to come.

These pieces of legislation prove why it's vital to remain an active voter, and why it's important to stay informed about what our lawmakers are up to. If we don't do it, nobody will.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york