abused for decades. Extensive logging takes place under false pretenses as “ecological management.” The area has been assaulted by “prescribed” burns, which are not even appropriate in eastern forests. ATV trails increasingly riddle the land. Non-native species invade wherever there is a disturbance.My heart breaks when I think of the growing assaults on our commons –– on our air, our water and our public lands. In southeast Ohio, Wayne National Forest, Ohio’s only national forest, has been
the Wayne National Forest faced an imminent gas and oil lease sale of
over 3,000 acres, most of it in the Hocking River Valley. Maps of the
parcels to be sold revealed all to be riddled with abandoned coalmines.
Two cities in the watershed, Nelsonville and Athens, rely on the Hocking
River aquifer as their sole-source drinking water supply. The sale
would threaten the drinking water of more than 70,000 people.
Thanks to legal expertise provided by Nathan Johnson of the Buckeye Forest Council and to public alerts by community activists, dozens of formal protests, including letters
from local officials and Ohio University, were submitted to the Bureau
of Land Management (BLM), the agency in charge of the sales process, in
the final week before the October 7, 2011, public comment period
deadline. The sale was canceled.
Despite further legal appeals by the Buckeye Forest Council and its state and national allies and by a dozen regional and national environmental groups, as well as thousands of petition signatures, rallies
attended by hundreds of people and voluminous research and visits by
community members and leaders, Wayne Supervisor Anne Carey concluded
that a future lease sale could be conducted without an Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS). This decision flew in the face of legal
arguments that an EIS was necessary to evaluate risks of deep-shale
drilling and high-volume horizontal fracturing. No new sale has been
Our region, long a sacrifice zone,
was heavily affected by nineteenth and twentieth century coal mining
and is just beginning to recover with an attractive university, healthy
tourism and a nationally recognized farmers’ market and local food
economy. The fate of this newly flourishing community now lies with the
BLM and President Obama, putting it in grave danger.