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Wayne's World: This is only a drill

January 17, 2011 - Rob Weaver
According to a Columbus Dispatch dispatch, oil and gas drilling on state park land hasn’t been ruled out by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ new director.

The Dispatch reports ODNR chief David Mustine intends to look into allowing drilling at state-owned parks and nature preserves. A representative of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association told the newspaper the state could raise up to $30 million a year from lease payments and royalties from wells on park land.

That sounds like a lot -- heck, it IS a lot -- but Ohio’s park system already needs estimated $560 million in repairs and upkeep. Those wells would have to keep producing for 18 years to take care of that backlog.

That’s a significant number, too, if the new director considers the impact drilling would have on the parks as well as the potential income. Of course, the impact of allowing the parks to deteriorate must be considered, too.

If Mustine needs to see how such drilling might impact the parks, he needn’t leave the state. South of Columbus, Wayne National Forest may provide a clue. The Wayne has about 240,000 acres spread out over three areas, and over the years, the surface ownership has been acquired by the federal government, but subsurface mineral rights have remained private. Plus, the 1987 Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act requires the Bureau of Land Management to offer lands for lease through competitive oral auctions.

In fact, I’d recommend anyone visit the only national forest land in Ohio. It’s a mixed-use forest, with miles and miles of ATV trails. Judge for yourself how oil and gas drilling might hurt or help state parks and preserves.


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