Statement from PennEnvironment regarding the public comments on the 2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan Draft
[Philadelphia] – Late last year, Pennsylvanians were afforded a rare opportunity to provide input about how to best manage our state forests. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released the draft of its new State Forest Resource Management Plan (SFRMP). The Plan will chart the course for Pennsylvania’s most precious natural resources, so it is critical that it includes the strongest protections possible.
One of the greatest threats posed to our public lands is oil and gas drilling. Even though Governor Wolf re-established a moratorium on new oil and gas leases in state parks and forests last year, over 700,000 acres were already leased before this temporary ban was put into place. State officials estimate that these leases could mean another 3,000 wells in our pristine state forests, posing risks to the places we hike, fish, camp, kayak, and simply enjoy.
It’s hard to imagine noisy compressor stations or industrial oil and gas drilling rigs scattered near the cascading waterfalls of Ricketts Glen, the impressive boulder fields of Hickory Run, or the majestic woods and trails of Loyalsock and Ohiopyle. However, this is the sad reality that Pennsylvanians could be facing if the SFRMP lacks key provisions about excluding oil and gas drilling in our state forests.
PennEnvironment applauds DCNR’s ongoing and far-reaching engagement of the Commonwealth’s residents as it finalizes the 2015 Plan. In light of this opportunity for feedback, PennEnvironment has reached out to our network of members and supporters across the Commonwealth to submit over 2000 public comments to the DCNR.
In doing so, we have made our message loud and clear: Pennsylvanians want to preserve our state forests, not let frackers pollute them. That's why we ask the DCNR to ensure three things in its new plan:
- Stop violators in their tracks: Halt drilling operations by frackers that have violated regulations in our state parks and forests until they clean up their act and are in full compliance with the law.
- Require compressor stations to observe noise limits, and shut down any that fail to do so.
- Prohibit surface drilling within the boundaries of our state forests to minimize direct environmental impacts to these special places.
We look forward to working with DCNR to protect the Commonwealth’s most treasured landscapes. PennEnvironment and our network of citizen members and activists are energized and prepared to fiercely defend what makes Pennsylvania—“Penn’s Woods”—so great.