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Monday, January 30, 2012

Don't Lease More State Forest Land for Oil and Gas Development

Over 40 sportsmen groups ask Pa. governor not to lease more state lands for Marcellus Shale development.

 Over 40 sportsmen groups and conservation organizations, representing more than 100,000 sportsmen and women in Pennsylvania, sent a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett today, asking that he not lease additional state forest lands for oil and gas development.

Over 700,000 acres — almost half of Pennsylvania's state forest lands within the Marcellus Shale region — have been leased for gas drilling. Pennsylvania sportsmen are asking that their voices be considered as the governor develops a budget for the next year.

"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.

"Hunting and fishing is big business in Pennsylvania each year, more than $4.3 billion is generated from fishing, hunting and wildlife-related recreation — much of which occurs in public forests. State forests are hugely valuable to Pennsylvania and we need to do what we can to preserve them for the next generation," said Don Robertson, president of Pennsylvania division of the Izaak Walton League."

A 2010 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) study found that leasing additional state forest lands would significantly affect the wild character and ecological integrity of the state's forest system. Gov. Rendell placed a ban on additional leasing of state forest lands based on the agency's report.

Signed by such groups as the National Wildlife Federation, the Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, Quality Deer Management Association and local and state chapters of national Trout Unlimited, the letter asks Gov. Corbett to "upload the moratorium on leasing of additional state forest lands," and "preserve the long-held tradition of hunting, fishing, trapping and other sportsmen-related activities on these lands."

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