Wayne National Forest Holds Open House

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The Wayne National Forest’s open house on leasing land for drilling for oil and natural gas became a soap box for protestors against fracking.

Officials from the Bureau of Land Management, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency were on hand for the event held Wednesday evening.

"We want to make sure the public is informed, and we want to hear their concerns," said Gary Chancey, Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Staff Officer.

The event focused on "various aspects of oil and natural gas development on national forest system lands in southeastern Ohio."

Discussion topics included the history of oil and natural gas activities, regulatory processes and permitting drilling processes, groundwater protection and hydraulic fracturing.

People could drop by at any time during the three-hour event to visit each station and to ask questions.

"This is our own chance to get the answers we want… the answers we need," said Elisa Young, a local anti-fracking advocate.

Opponents of the drilling process are concerned about contaminated water, while proponents argue the process is safe and tapping into the shale regions beneath southeast Ohio will bring jobs to the state.

There are currently 1,283 oil and natural gas wells on the Wayne National Forest, 12 of which have been drilled since 2006. Over the past year, oil and gas leasing has increased in the eastern half of Ohio. However, no applications for deep horizontal drilling are currently being considered on the Wayne.