Hydrofracking in the George Washington Forest

Switzer Lake
Switzer Lake, photo from Friends of Shenandoah Mountain

Our area forests are life providing reservoirs of clean water, fresh air,  biodiversity, and carbon sequestration in addition to offering managed use opportunities for timber, game, and recreation.

Newer technology is also making our forests a valuable source of natural gas from their underlying shale formations. The ability to extract this energy without tremendous ecological consequences is in question. Lynn Cameron explores these issues among others for Friends of the Shenandoah Mountain here.

Jeremiah Knupp reports on the April 24 “Fracking Travelogue” public forum here for Old South High. Candace Sipos writes about the issue for the Daily News Record here as published on May 3.

Old South High continued its coverage in Jeremiah Knupp’s entry on May 8: “In Rockingham County, the forest contains hiking and mountain biking trails, campsites and hunting land, and one of the country’s greatest areas of biodiversity. Fracking opponents note that the drilling process is a large-scale industrial operation. In addition to the five to ten acre sites required for a well, roads and other infrastructure must be built into the forest.”

Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress reports in an April 20, 2013 article by Aaron Richardson:

“The U.S. Forest Service is expected in June to end two years of wrangling over whether to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the George Washington National Forest.

Debate has raged about the issue since 2011, when the service initially proposed a 15-year moratorium on fracking in the swath of largely undeveloped wilderness stretching down the spines of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains in western Virginia.”

Laura Peters covered recent conversations about this on April 26 for the News Leader here. She writes:

“Ken Landgraf, planning staff officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, said the decision on banning horizontal drilling or making it an option is still up in the air.

An important part of the Forest Service’s consideration, Landgraf said, will be public comment.”

Rockingham County’s Community Alliance for Preservation and the Shenandoah Valley Network are urging last minute appeals to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and our US Senators to support the George Washington National Forest’s proposed fracking ban:

“Please contact Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at agsec@usda.gov, who oversees the US Forest Service, and ask him to support the GWNF’s proposed fracking ban. It’s our last best chance to make sure the sensible horizontal drilling ban stays in the final forest plan, coming out soon. It’s not too late for the Forest Service to make the right decision.

After you email Secretary Vilsack at agsec@usda.gov, please contact our US Senators with the same message.”

The Virginia Sierra Club is also supporting the ban. They offer easy online messaging to our representatives here.

And from the Don’t Frack George Washington National Forest facebook page:

Here are the contact details for commenting on the GWNF management plan. Official comment period is closed but you can still send comments to show support for continuing to keep GWNF off-limits to fracking and other industrial activities.

Submitting Comments
If you wish to submit a comment, please send it to:

Karen Overcash                                                                                                                5162 Valleypointe Parkway , Roanoke, VA, 24019                                  kovercash@fs.fed.us

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