Bituminous Open Pit Mining Act
History of PFSC
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Inc. (PFSC) is one of the oldest and the largest sportsmen’s organization in Pennsylvania. PFSC was established on February 11, 1932 with a meeting of five Pennsylvania conservationists, Ross L. Leffler, John M. Phillips, Judge Grover C. Ladner, Colin Reed and John Youngman. This meeting, oddly enough, took place at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. The meeting ended with Ross Leffler serving as temporary chairman until the organization could be formally established. Judge Ladner was elected as the first PFSC President in March of 1932 and served in this capacity until 1939. (See PFSC Founding Fathers)
From the beginning the Federation was concerned with conservation issues in Pennsylvania. In the early days there were few if any regulations to protect the environment. The Federation focused on how sportsmen could address this problem. The Federation was the driving force behind the passage of Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Act in 1937. Major steps were also taken in fish and game laws due to their efforts and greater emphasis was placed on Game Land acquisition. The organization continued to grow and make a difference.
It was after World War II that sportsmen’s interest in conservation bloomed. As they returned home and found many of their favorite hunting and fishing areas devastated by the heavy strip mining that was necessary to support the war effort, sportsmen went into action.
Numerous attempts to pass laws requiring back-filling and protection of the streams were blocked by the strong coal lobby. It wasn’t until after the sportsmen successfully campaigned against the legislators who opposed strip mine reforms that progress could be made. It was a long hard road with some victories. It was the passage of the Bituminous Open Pit mining act in 1963 that opened the door for major victories such as the Anthracite Open Pit Mining Act, Anti-subsidence Act, Amendments to strengthen the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Act, Reorganization of State Agencies under DER, and the All Surface Mining Act.
PFSC has continued on this course. We were instrumental in the enactment of the nations first Surface Mining Act, establishment of Soil and Conservation Districts, and founding of the National Wildlife Federation. We helped to pass PA’s Wild Resource Conservation income tax check-off program, PA’s solid waste bill including mandatory recycling, opposed large scale commercial development of PA’s state parks, and much more.
In the past, we have opposed the dredging of the Delaware River and have lobbied for the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. We became co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the proposed route of I-99 and against the Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Surface Mining, and U.S. Department of the Interior for inadequate and failing mine bonding. We worked with the National Wildlife Federation on State Wetlands permits, and more.
While PFSC has a long list of victories that have protected the environment and wildlife, the Federation has also tackled issues directly affecting the sportsmen of Pennsylvania. We played a major role in repealing the Philadelphia Firearms Act. We protected all existing clubs in Pennsylvania from having their ranges closed due to noise complaints, by enacting legislation (Senate Bill 56, 1997) and testing this legislation in court. We have prevented local governments from prohibiting hunting in their jurisdictions through a successful court case in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Duff decision 1987). We have diverted attempts to use game lands as sites for waste disposal and storage, and worked to oppose legislation (HB 2181, 2001) that would take control of game lands uses away from the PA Game Commission, and put it under the control of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
We won a lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s navigable waterways. This case centered around the upper reaches of the Lehigh River in Luzerne County where a private fishing club had taken action against an individual angler fishing in what they considered to be “their” section of the river. The Lehigh River had long been listed as a navigable waterway and the bed of the river should therefore belong to the Commonwealth. PFSC entered the fight in 1996, siding with the individual sportsman, and the Luzerne County Court agreed. The fishing club appealed the court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which agreed with the lower court ruling. The club then appealed this decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has recently denied their appeal. Four years and $90,000 later, the rights of the public to Pennsylvania’s public waterways has been affirmed. This case was not about the Lehigh River. It was about public resources remaining open to the public that owns them.