Baby, it's cold outside whether it's a polar vortex or plunge

Wildlife agencies prepare for quarterly meetings to be held this week and next week.

Weather forecasters are calling this next cold weather system a polar plunge as opposed to the polar vortex of a few weeks ago that dipped us into negative digits in wind chill.

This latest expected drop into subfreezing temperatures won't be as severe, but may end up lasting quite a few more days. Most people who venture into the outdoors in cold weather are keenly aware of how to dress, but many aren't as tuned into the best ways to keep as warm as possible.

The No. 1 mistake people continue to make in cold weather is wearing cotton as a base layer on the body and the feet. Cotton absorbs moisture and does not wick it away, so once you sweat and the temperatures drop, you stay cold and wet.

Just because it's cold doesn't mean you don't sweat, either. Just ask downhill skiers, cross country skiers, winter hikers and cold-weather hunters. Walking produces sweat, plan and simple. The wetter you become in the cold, the more uncomfortable and chilly you become.

Wearing moisture-wicking technical apparel or wool as a base layer is much more preferable than cotton. Long underwear, socks, mittens, gloves and hats come in a variety of what are called performance-wear materials that wick the sweat away from your body to keep you drier, and therefore warmer. Hats in particular are the forgotten component when it comes to wearing performance wear.

Also, if it is wet outside with snow or freezing rain, wear waterproof boots or shoes and invest in some type of secondary shoe traction device like snow chains for automobile tires. There are several styles of traction devices for shoes and boots, including spikes and chain-like springs. Sure-footed is better than slipping and falling and possibly breaking a wrist or collarbone.

Stay warm this week while you enjoy the outdoors.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission meets Wednesday, Thursday: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is holding its first quarterly meeting of the year Wednesday and Thursday at the agency's offices at 1601 Elmerton Ave. in Harrisburg, just off the Progress Avenue exit on Interstate 81.

The meetings will begin at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday and at 8 a.m. Thursday with the formal agenda portion of the meeting scheduled to begin 10:10 a.m. Thursday.

The PFBC is looking to expand Class A Wild Trout Waters designation to several portions of area streams, which will affect in-season stockings.

Another item on the agenda includes the option of wearing a specially purchased license "button" instead of the traditional license.

The meeting schedule and agenda is available online at http://www.fishandboat.com/minutes.htm.

Game commission quarterly meeting: The Pennsylvania Game Commission will hold its first quarterly meeting of the year Sunday through Tuesday at the agency's headquarters at 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, just off the Progress Avenue exit off Interstate 81.

The meetings will begin at 1 p.m Sunday with public comment on the proposed 2014-15 hunting and fur-taking seasons and bag limits.

The public comments always go beyond that scope, however, and there is sure to be plenty of them (five minutes per person) on issues regarding the state Legislature taking away the PGC's power over threatened and endangered species. An item on the agenda, if approved by the Board of Commissioners, would release the bald eagle from the state's list of threatened bird species.

Other items of note sure to draw comment include areas for deer baiting in southeastern Pennsylvania and the proposed mentored adult non-hunters' hunt to coincide with mentored youth hunting.

One item not on the agenda, but is making noise throughout the state, is the potential use of dogs to track deer that have been shot. Dogs are far better trackers than most humans.

Doors open at noon and people who wish to make comments (called testimony) need to register on the list and will be heard on a first-come, first-to-speak basis.

Public comment will continue at 8:30 a.m. Monday, before the agency begins staff reports. The formal agenda, including voting on the preliminary seasons and bag limits, will begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The meeting agenda is available online at http://www.pgc.state.pa.us by selecting the meeting date from the Quick Clicks box.

This will be the first meeting with new Executive Director R. Matthew Hough after Carl G. Roe retired Friday.

gary.blockus@mcall.com

610-820-6782

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