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Update on Gas Field Development in the State Parks
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by Jim Sconyers, Chapter Chair | 2010

As this issue goes to press we are waiting for word from the West Virginia Supreme Court on our appeal. To summarize, the WV Department of Environmental Protection refused to issue a permit to drill gas wells and develop roads, pipelines, etc. in Chief Logan State Park. This decision was overturned in Logan County Court, and the WVDEP was ordered to issue the permits. WV Sierra Club and allies have appealed the court decision to the WV Supreme Court.


The gas drill rig is gone, its work finished. This is the scene left behind - surely not what we want in our West Virginia State Parks!

That court could act in one of three ways:

• Agree with our appeal and uphold the denial of gas permits for the Park.

• Reject our appeal and let the Logan court decision (permitting the gas field development) stand.

• Ask the parties to the appeal to provide further information and testimony, possibly in oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

The reasons for our concern are obvious. Chief Logan is a popular, well-used state park, and gas drilling and development have no place there. Beyond that is the precedent problem. An adverse ruling on Chief Logan would set a precedent that could conceivably open all the other West Virginia State Parks to gas, oil, and other inappropriate development. If the Chief Logan domino were to fall, we could very well see similar park degradation at Twin Falls, Blackwater Falls, Holly River, and other of our citizens’ gorgeous “crown jewels,” which our state parks surely are.

As of January 30, the “gas rush” has not expanded beyond Chief Logan. Thus far, there are no new gas permit applications in any of the other state parks.

The table below indicates which state parks have the highest proportion of privately owned Mineral rights, and thus are most susceptible to drilling.

WV State Park Mineral Ownership

State Park

Total

Acres

% Oil/Gas

Privately

Owned

(at least)

% Coal

Privately

Owned

(at least)

Audra

355

57

44

Babcock

4,127

24

22

Beartown

110

3

3

Berkeley Springs

7

100

100

Blackwater Falls

2,358

100

100

Blennerhassett Island

511

100

100

Bluestone

2,154

85

85

Cacapon

6,115

0

0

Canaan Valley

6,120

8

8

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield

165

5

5

Cass Scenic Railroad

939

33

33

Cathedral

132

0

0

Cedar Creek

2,588

46

36

Chief Logan

3,988

100

18

Droop Mountain

287

0

0

Grave Creek Mound

7

0

0

Hawks Nest

370

90

0

Holly River

8,294

98

93

Little Beaver

562

0

0

Lost River

3,712

1

1

North Bend

2,459

97

87

Pinnacle Rock

374

0

0

Pipestem

4,050

24

24

Tomlinson Run

1,396

19

21

Twin Falls

3,776

100

100

Tygart Lake

2,134

100

100

Valley Falls

1,145

23

42

Watoga

10,100

16

16

Watters Smith

532

39

3



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