Protecting Our State Forests
The development of Marcellus Shale gas drilling across Pennsylvania presents a serious challenge to the well being of our state forest system. Our state forests – and the many miles of hiking trails that are located within them – are being threatened by fragmentation from new roads, pipelines, well pads and storage areas, as well as increased air, water and noise pollution from the drilling activities.
According to the Pennsylvania Constitution:
“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” (Article 1, Section 27).
The Keystone Trails Association believes that current Marcellus Shale gas drilling regulations are not sufficient to protect our state forests as described in the Pennsylvania Constitution. Fortunately, there are many actions that Pennsylvania citizens and the hiking community can take to help protect our state forests.
Keep reading to learn more and Take Action!
Many times the Keystone Trails Association will ask you to contact your state legislators, sign a petition or attend a rally in support of Pennsylvania’s hiking trails. But this time we’re asking you to take action in a way that hikers know best – go take a hike!
As gas drilling activity increases, it is important to monitor our state forests and hiking trails. We need hikers to report from the trail their observations on the negative impacts of natural gas development. The next time you explore a trail in our state forest system, please be alert for the following:
- Have drilling activities affected an existing trail or scenic area?
- Do you observe sediment from construction sites or roads? Unusual water discoloration? Loud noise? Offensive fumes or strong odors? Injured or dead wildlife or fauna? Light pollution in pristine areas?
If you do observe possible negative affects of gas drilling, take action!
- Take photographs.
- Keep notes of what you observed, and report your findings to DEP and DCNR.
- Get to know your District Foresters. Schedule an office visit to talk about what you have seen during your hikes on state forest hiking trails.
- Contact your state legislators about your concerns with gas drilling activity in state forests. Describe your experiences on state forest hiking trails and the negative impacts of gas drilling that you have observed.
Concerned about the development of Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s state forests? Learn more by connecting with like-minded organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Forest Coalition. You can also get involved with your local watershed association. Contact your local Conservation District Watershed Specialist for more information. (Most county websites provide a link to the Conservation District. If not, call your county and ask for the Conservation District.)
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – State Forests
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – State Forest Trails