Energy. Environment. Economy.

Pennsylvania Sportsmen Urge Gov. Corbett Not to Lease State Land

Mark Stahl / Getty Images

Gary Tierno fishes for trout with his daughter Sarah on Pennsylvania's opening day, April 17, 2004.

A coalition of hunters and anglers say no more state forest lands should be leased to oil and gas developers. The groups, primarily consisting of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, sent a letter to Corbett on Thursday, telling him the 700,000 acres already under lease threatens the state’s “hunting and fishing legacy.”

“Pennsylvanians have a rich heritage of hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor traditions on state forest lands. Passed down from generation to generation, these sporting traditions have become part of the commonwealth’s cultural and social fabric. Hunting and fishing is not just a pastime though—it is also big business. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than $4.3 billion in revenue is generated in Pennsylvania each year from fishing, hunting and wildlife-related recreation—and state forests serve as the cornerstone for these activities.”

The groups’ letter points to a 2010 study by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that concludes new gas drilling leases would “significantly alter the ecological integrity and wild character of our state forest system.”

The sportsmen tell Corbett they’re worried about forest “edge effects” associated with clearing land for drilling, especially in the Southwestern and North central parts of the state.

“North central Pennsylvania contains the bulk of the commonwealth’s Class A and wilderness trout watersheds. This area also encompasses Wildlife Management Unit 2G—the area that had the highest rates of grouse flush in the state in early 2011 and the highest bear harvest during the 2011 season.”

Among the groups that signed on to the letter are the National Wildlife Foundation, United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna County Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, and the state’s local chapters of Trout Unlimited.

“Gov. Corbett is looking for a quick, easy way to fill the gaps in the state budget,” said Ken Undercoffer, president of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, “but we can’t sacrifice our state forest system, our natural resources or our hunting and fishing heritage, for a short-term gain.”

Governor Ed Rendell signed an executive order forbidding any more leasing of state forests just before he left office. But Corbett is expected to lift that ban, and some speculate that announcement could be made in his upcoming state of the state.





  • Skunkgrub

    Nothing yet
    from the talking gas heads? That’s right because now you clash with the most intangible,
    irrational and formidable reason to hyper-regulate and heavily tax the poor
    little gas companies. Aesthetics? Whatever that is. A lump in your throat, a
    heavy sigh before you close the car door and trudge through the early morning
    fog carrying a fishing pole to the creek. Most of these people don’t care about
    jobs. They already have one. The water? They’re not drinking it, they are
    admiring it and the unseen trout beneath its surface, as they admire the
    silence of natural sounds, as they fish and hunt assured that the mountains
    around them and the mountain they’re on are safe from
    fools who force heavy equipment and gas rigs on to their hunting grounds, who
    ignore the heritage of their children and scoff at the outdoor tradition.

    I guess some
    things you cannot put a price on! If the army of hunters and anglers awaken
    politically, like they now must to indeed assure their way of life and their
    values, and align with, god forbid, the likes of Audubon, the gas companies
    won’t be able to pass gas let alone drill for it without permission.

  • Seafins

    “Hydraulic fracturing as it’s practiced today will contaminate our aquifers.

    Not might contaminate our aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing will
    contaminate New York’s aquifers. If you were looking for a way to poison
    the drinking water supply, here in the Northeast you couldn’t find a
    more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with
    hydraulic fracturing”. Paul Hetzler, Canton; environmental engineering
    technician with NYSDEC Region 5

    High volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing as it is now done IS NOT SAFE.

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