Natural Gas vs. Penn Forests: As the Natural Gas Industry Finds More and More Resources in Our Nation's Forests, Difficult Choices between Economy and Environment Must Be Made

By Youker, Darrin | American Forests, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Natural Gas vs. Penn Forests: As the Natural Gas Industry Finds More and More Resources in Our Nation's Forests, Difficult Choices between Economy and Environment Must Be Made


Youker, Darrin, American Forests


Roy Siefert pilots his Chevrolet Blazer over the snow-caked roads of the Tioga State Forest. It's midwinter, and a blanket of snow and cold hangs over this wooded tract in northern Pennsylvania. But in the midst of the maples, ash, and pines is a hub of activity.

Siefert, District Forester for the 165,000-acre Tioga Forest, is checking on a network of pipelines, compressor stations, and gas wells that has transformed a portion of the woodlot into an industrial site. "This is just like a little city," he says.

Exploration of the Marcellus Shale Formation, the nation's largest reserve of natural gas, is transforming the landscape of Pennsylvania. And the venerable Penn's Woods are not immune to development.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

So far, 700,000 acres of state forest land are under lease to natural gas companies. Estimates suggest that as many as 12,000 wells will be drilled on state forests over the next 20 years.

The Marcellus Shale Formation runs underneath most of the Keystone State, and so far energy companies have concentrated their activities mostly in the state's northern tier. Industry experts predict that drilling will last for more than 50 years. And along with development on private lands, state-owned property is already seeing its fair share of drilling.

Tioga State Forest has 45,000 acres under lease for gas development, the highest concentration of gas drilling among state forests--so far. For example, in a tract of the Tioga near the college town of Mansfield, the industrial development takes up 185 acres of land. All of this development has brought with it an industrial infrastructure for long-term gas development. There is little question that the state forest system, like much of Pennsylvania, is at a crossroads.

"Some changes will be permanent and some will be negative," says John Quigley, the former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). "How will we strike a balance? Can we preserve the public lands?"

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In 2008 Pennsylvania used leases of state forest lands to close a budget gap. Those leases represent the majority of gas exploration currently underway. And it has fundamentally changed how Tioga's staffers are working, Siefert says. About half of his job duties are now related to Marcellus shale. "It's really a big juggling job," he says.

Most of the development in the Tioga woods is occurring on land that was once a strip mine. That factor has allowed the forest agency to minimize the need to take away virgin forest in favor of gas infrastructure. However, there is a decidedly industrial feel to the gas lands. Two drilling rigs tower over the woods, and tanker trucks hauling water to drill sites run at a constant pace over the dirt roads.

Even after the rigs are gone, 10-foot-high well heads will remain, along with looming storage towers. A compressor station, housing eight 4,000-horsepower engines, hums constantly. "This is an industrial facility," Siefert says.

Over the next year, gas exploration will enter a second phase in another portion of the Tioga Forest. This new exploration will occur south of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, an 800-foot-deep canyon cut by glaciers during an ice age. The area, the most heavily used portion of the forest, is rich in recreation opportunities. Roads there are groomed for snowmobiling, and there are endless cross-country ski opportunities. The 62-mile-long Pine Creek Rail Trail, a popular hiking and mountain-bike destination, cuts through some of the most scenic portions of the woods.

"It's our highest recreation use area and one of our most scenic viewsheds," Siefert remarks.

In the heart of the woods, gas companies are clearing a roadway to access well sites that will be drilled in coming years. Though not visible from any highways, the drill sites and roads will become part of the scenery that hikers and snow-mobilers see while venturing" deep into the woods.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Natural Gas vs. Penn Forests: As the Natural Gas Industry Finds More and More Resources in Our Nation's Forests, Difficult Choices between Economy and Environment Must Be Made
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.