Athens Officials Call For Impact Study On Proposed Wayne National Forest Leasing

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A crowd estimated to be at least 100 strong gathered at the Wayne National Forest Headquarters in Nelsonville Wednesday afternoon for a rally.

Athens City Mayor Paul Wiehl, Athens City Council member Christine Knisely and area business owners were scheduled to voice their opinion on the release of Wayne land for oil and gas leasing.

Wiehl said they are trying to encourage Wayne Supervisor Anne Carey to call for an environmental impact study on the proposed leasing.

"The Wayne is obligated to allow public participation in a decision so clearly of great concern to our community," said Sandra Sleight-Brennan, who recently was in a meeting with Carey.

Former Athens County Commissioner Roxanne Groff is concerned about possible water contamination.

"Abandoned mines underlie all the river parcels at issue," she said. 

Groff said she's afraid acid mine drainage will cause corrosion and leaking of toxic materials.

Those who support oil and gas leasing maintain it can be done safely, will bring new jobs and will boost the economy.