Allegheny Defense Project
ACTION ALERT - Public Meeting on Draft 2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan
Date: Oct. 29, 2015
Time: 6:30 - 9:00 pm
Place: Park Inn by Radisson, 45 Holiday Inn Road, Clarion, PA
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will hold a public meeting on October 29, 2015, to solicit public comments on its Draft 2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan (Draft Plan). The Plan was last updated in 2007. Since that time, the shale gas fracking boom has increased exponentially across much of Pennsylvania. It is long past due for the DCNR to use its authority to protect Pennsylvania’s State Forests from the impacts of fracking for shale gas.
Article I, Sec. 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states that:
“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and the the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
In 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that this section of the Pennsylvania Constitution “implicates a duty to prevent and remedy the degradation, diminution, or depletion of our public natural resources.” This “duty” applies to all aspects of the Commonwealth government, including DCNR.
At 2.2 million acres, Pennsylvania has the third largest state forest system in the United States (behind only Michigan and Minnesota). These state forest lands provide important habitat for wildlife and fish and outstanding opportunities for hiking, backpacking, camping and other forms of low-impact recreation. Unfortunately, approximately one-third of Pennsylvania’s state forest land (700,000 acres) is currently available for oil and gas development, either because the oil/gas is privately owned or because the DCNR leased the oil/gas that is owned by the Commonwealth. To put this in perspective, the acreage of state forest land that is available for oil and gas development is nearly 200,000 acres larger the entire Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Oil and gas development is a significant threat to the wildness that abounds in Pennsylvania’s state forests. Oil and gas development requires extensive roads, pipelines, compressor stations, water water pits, and associated infrastructure that transforms remote, forested lands into industrial sites. This is a long-term change in land use that fragments wildlife habitat, increases erosion and sedimentation into streams, and degrades recreation opportunities.
There is an urgent need to prevent any further leasing of state forest lands for oil and gas development. In January 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order banning any further leasing of oil and gas on state forest and park lands. It is now time for DCNR to formally incorporate this ban and make it part of the 2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan so that a future governor cannot lift the ban. Please plan on attending the public meeting in Clarion, PA on October 29th and tell the DCNR that it needs to permanently ban oil and gas leasing on Pennsylvania’s state forests.