Letter to the Editor: Overlooking importance of state forests
A paragraph in an article in The Indiana Gazette headlined “DEP takes comments on drilling regs in state” reads: “A provision outlined by DEP is the protection of public resources which are considered a major economic contributor thanks to tourism and out of state visitors. Applicants for well permits will have to notify the appropriate public resource agency if the proposed well is within 200 feet of a publicly owned park or forest.”
Currently, according to Pennsylvania Outdoor News, there are numerous Marcellus wells, miles of access roads and pipelines, water storage facilities and noisy compressor stations being developed on our state forests in the northcentral region. More than half of the state forest land has been leased to the oil and gas industry.
The entire north-central region has been a contributor to tourism. It provides much of the remoteness left in the state.
It provides the headwaters of rivers running through the state.
It is valuable for the state’s wildlife, outdoor recreation and its renewable natural resources.
In 1955 legislation created Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund. The act reads: “All rents and royalties from oil and gas leases of any land owned by the commonwealth shall be exclusively used for conservation, recreation, dams or flood control projects.”
This butchering within the state forests would provide funds for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for many years without receiving state funding. It would create jobs for improvements and upkeep within what will be left of our state forests and state parks.
Instead, hundreds of millions of dollars are being diverted out of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund into the state budget.
As the oil and gas industry spent a few million dollars in political investments, it saved hundreds of millions in taxes.
Some of us understand the importance of our forests, while others treat them as something standing in the way.
William W. Wilson