Responsible Drilling Alliance

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21
Apr

Keep it WILD Talking Points

DCNR Can Protect Headwaters of Rock Run / Masten Ghost Town/ Old Loggers Path

But it’s up to you to convince them to do the right thing.

If you don’t, DCNR is poised to sign a surface-use agreement that will decimate this remote portion of Loyalsock State Forest .

Background

Usually, mineral rights trump surface owner rights. . . But not in this case.

The state Bureau of Forests & Waters bought the land in 1933.  Clarence Moore, the seller, retained the mineral rights and put a clause in the deed that granted him a 50 year access to the surface.  That clause expired in 1983.

Commonwealth Court has affirmed that clause, so DCNR has a unique opportunity to legally protect 18,870 acres of this area from development.

This area is a unique and remote section of Loyalsock State Forest that lies in northeast Lycoming County . It includes the headwaters of the Exceptional Value Rock Run, the Devils Elbow Natural Area, the Old Loggers Path (a 27-mile circular hiking tail) and the Masten Ghost Town.

The Problem
 

Anadarko (and IDC) recently purchased those mineral rights.  They finished seismic testing in August and are pushing DCNR to sign a surface-use agreement.
 This agreement is the key. By virtue of the deeds, DCNR has the right to completely protect 18,870 acres from development. That agency does not have to allow Anadarko and IDC to use the surface. This is the only example we have ever heard of that allows DCNR to protect our public land in this manner.

Suggestions for writing an effective letter

In writing to DCNR Secretary Allan, please keep it factual.  Use one or two points from the “background info” above to demonstrate that you understand the situation, then use one or two of the “talking points” below to get you started.  Please blend those with your experiences of hunting, hiking and fishing in the area.  Copying everything looks like a form letter and decision-makers will ignore those.

Talking points
 
·         Our state forests are a public resource and the public must be involved.

·        The Rock Run / Masten / Old Loggers Path area is unique and must be protected, not exploited.

·        Given the ecological sensitivity and recreational significance of this area of the Loyalsock State Forest , any gas extraction or transmission operations in the forest would immediately and permanently impair pristine areas containing Exceptional Value streams and wetlands.

·        DCNR must immediately publish maps showing the precise location of the 18,870-acre and 6,841-acre parcels in the Loyalsock State Forest and post them for public view on the DCNR website.

·        DCNR must publish all of its environmental impact studies related to the Rock Run headwaters / Old Loggers Path / Masten area development. Be transparent.

·        DCNR must hold public meetings on the issue to afford the stakeholders a meaningful opportunity to participate in DCNR’s decision-making.

·        Before making any final development decisions, Public Meetings should be combined with an explanation of the alternative development options, including “no action”.

·        For those who cannot attend the Public Meetings, there should be a 60-day Public Comment Period.

·        Anadarko should have the opportunity to present their BMP development  plans to the public.

·        Anadarko will request rights-of-way across some of DCNR’s 18,870-acres in order to access portions of their 6,841-acres. DCNR should be transparent regarding this by posting the maps on its public web site.
·        DCNR is legally obligated to exercise the unique control granted in the deeds in the best interests of the public.

·        Unconventional natural gas development will take place over the next century. There is no rush to exploit every area.

·        Future technological development will undoubtedly result in better cementing, fewer accidents and longer laterals. These are all good reasons to be slow and deliberate in approving all natural gas development.

·        Consider all options for managing these exceptional areas. It’s a matter of a forest owned by the public – which is not just a ‘cash cow’ to be mindlessly expoited.

·        Under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, DCNR has a legal duty to conserve and maintain State Forest lands for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians, including future generations.

·        DCNR may not grant a right-of-way unless it ensures that the surface will be protected. That mandates thorough environmental impact studies before granting any rights-of-way. Remember: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.


                               
The public resources at stake are the very heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The public’s ecological, recreational, and economic interest in them is simply too important for decisions to be made without input from the public and sound science to document species at risk and harm to the environment.                      


U.S.P.S. is the best way to have an impact.

A letter may sound “old-fashioned”, but it can’t be deleted with one keystroke and is more business-like. It takes handling and is already a hardcopy.

Address correspondence to:
    
Richard J. Allan, Secretary
Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Rachel Carson State Office Building
P.O. Box 8767
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8767
If you can’t afford the stamp,
Rick’s e-mail is rjallan@pa.gov

Please CC your legislators.
Find their contact information via
www.legis.state.pa.us and enter your
zip code in the upper-right corner.

Thank you for taking the time to protect a part of PA Wilds.
One who speaks out is louder than 10,000 who remain silent.

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