Archive for August, 2012

(Posted by Melanie Houston, OEC Director of Water Policy & Environmental Health)

The United States Forest Service announced on Monday that shale drilling, or “fracking” will be allowed in the Wayne National Forest.

In a statement issued by the agency, Anne Carey, Wayne National Forest Supervisor, concluded that there was no need to amend the 2006 Forest   Plan for the Wayne to incorporate potential surface level impacts associated with horizontal drilling. Carey stated “I have reviewed the new information contained in the Supplemental Information Report, and determined that further environmental analysis is not needed.” She further stated “I believe that the existing Forest Plan direction is adequate to   address the surface effects anticipated from the potential development of horizontal wells as projected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).” According to an analysis done by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, shale wells could be drilled in as many as 13 sites throughout the Wayne forest by 2016.

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), along with Buckeye Forest Council and other environmental organizations, oppose Forest Service’s decision to allow fracking in the Wayne, Ohio’s only national forest. “This decision is premature and inconsistent with the agency’s mission ‘to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet     the needs of present and future generations’,” stated Melanie Houston Director of Water Policy and Environmental Health.

In a statement after the Wayne decision, Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the Buckeye Forest Council, stated, “The Wayne’s decision is extremely disappointing.”

“We believe the Wayne is violating federal law by failing to update their 2006 study and plan, and litigation is a distinct possibility,” added Johnson.

According to Buckeye Forest Council’s analysis, Federal law requires the Forest Service to conduct a new environmental study and update their plan whenever ‘significant new circumstances or information’ arise. High volume horizontal fracking is clearly a significant new circumstance demanding study and additional protections.

Trent Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs at OEC stated, “The Forest Service has failed to conduct their due diligence in reviewing the environmental impacts associated with unconventional gas drilling in national forestland. They have decided to take a short-cut rather than fully assess fracking’s impacts on the long-term viability of this treasure of Southern Ohio.”

Ohio’s lone National Forest is now fertile ground for industrial-scale  fracking.

The Forest Service itself acknowledged in their supplemental informational report that there are drastic differences between  conventional oil and gas drilling and the new horizontal drilling: larger well pads, more surface area disturbance, and much greater water usage.

“There will also be more air emissions, more noise, and more light pollution, which will be disturbing not only to the surrounding public and    forest visitors, but also to the federally endangered Indiana bat and  sensitive species little brown bat.” added Houston.

Read the US Forest Service’s report:

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(Posted by Trent Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs)

One of the many jewels of Ohio’s State Park system is the Mohican Complex – Mohican State Park, Mohican Memorial State Forest, and the unique and inspiring Malabar State Park

Historic Malabar Farm was the heart and soul of Mansfield, Ohio’s own    Louis Bromfield and his work for conservation. Yet, did you know it  was in peril during his last days?

To chronicle  the importance of this public treasure, a 3 minute video was created by Tender Land Company to celebrate the work of Mansfield’s famous son and challenges us to re-think the management of  our Ohio State Parks. Look at the tough truth behind the story-book life of Bromfield and the peril that awaits his farm today.

Click the link below to view the movie: The Woods at Malabar.

Also, view Mohican Advocates film on Mohican State Park , entitled  Mohican: The Long View.

The threats: Drilling & Logging

More than a year has passed since the passage of HB 133, which opened Ohio’s State Parks to oil and gas drilling, and provisions in the State’s  Biennial Budget Bill that opened those same parks to commercial logging. Yet, while bill’s Leasing Board has yet to meet, and while no drill-bit has yet pierced our parks (yet), state officials are working hard.

As public records show (and we will feature on future posts on drilling in     our parks) officials have been working hard to abide by the mandates of      the new law: inventorying  and classifying state owned parcels; checking titles; and clearing any encumbrances.  All to make our parks primed and ready for drilling and logging.

But there is another group working hard as well.  The Coalition to Protect Ohio’s Parks, led by Mohican Advocates, Inc., has coalesced in an effort to reverse the decision of state lawmakers to open Ohio’s State Parks and Forests to drilling and fracking for gas and oil, and their decision to allow commercial logging in our State Parks for profit alone.

A focal point of the group’s effort is to shine an important light on the  reasons why the State Parks were set aside in the first place, and why, for generations, commercial logging and industrial scale drilling were denied.  The movies on Mohican and Malabar are just the start of CPOP’s efforts to protect the sanctity of small slices of public land we have in Ohio.

Please visit the Mohican Advocates, Inc. website and the Coalition to   Protect our Parks to sign the petition to protect our parks.

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