Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Frack under Ohiopyle How Many People Will Visit Pennsylvania Parks If Neighboring Areas Have Been Industrialized? Asks Biology Professor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Frack under Ohiopyle How Many People Will Visit Pennsylvania Parks If Neighboring Areas Have Been Industrialized? Asks Biology Professor

Article excerpt

Ohiopyle State Park is the crown jewel of our world-class state parks system. Located in Pittsburgh's backyard and adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright's world-famous Fallingwater, the park draws 1.4 million visitors annually.

My husband and I visited the park for our 10th anniversary and had a wonderful time hiking, swimming and bird-watching. It was after this visit that we lost all doubt we had made the right decision to leave the mountains of New Mexico and relocate to southwestern Pennsylvania. In terms of sheer beauty and opportunities for outdoor adventures, the aptly nicknamed Land of Enchantment has nothing on the Laurel Highlands.

That is why it is so disturbing that Gov. Tom Corbett's executive order could allow fracking under Ohiopyle and other state parks throughout Pennsylvania. They claim the drill rigs and pads would be located outside park boundaries and would not disturb surface areas inside the parks, but allowing fracking under the parks still could ruin these precious public open spaces.

Consider the following when it comes to Ohiopyle .

Look at a map and you will see that, although the park is large, its boundaries are very jagged. Fracking wells could easily be located in any number of areas that are surrounded on three sides by parkland and right on top of popular trails, campsites, picnic areas and even the park visitors' center.

The main attraction for this park is the Youghiogheny River, by some accounts the best whitewater rafting venue in the eastern United States, and remarkably clean considering all the damage that's been done to rivers in this region by acid mine drainage and other forms of industrial pollution.

Fracking wells generate millions of gallons of water contaminated with chemicals, heavy metals, radioactivity and numerous other pollutants. This water is stored in open pits on-site where it can spill into nearby rivers due to mishandling, shoddy construction or just plain heavy rain. …

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