Forest officials say hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Wayne can be done only if environmental standards are met.
Officials will require that developers present plans for approval before drilling takes place. The Wayne National Forest would need to perform an environmental analysis before any drilling could start. The study would include examining whether wildlife, water, or other elements would be harmed. If there's a problem, drilling would have to take place in another location.
Citizens have voiced concerns that drilling could harm the water supply in Athens. Forest authorities claim they only manage what happens on the surface of the land, not the actual drilling. "I know there's some misconceptions out there in the public. I think the number one misconception is that we have control over the underground operations, which we do not," Acting Forest Supervisor Gary Willison said. "There was also, I think, some concerns that we were just auctioning off this land and selling the forest for oil and gas and that's not the case."
Willison says if forest officials think drilling might harm the environment they can force developers to move or change their plans.