Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation created to advocate for sound energy development
Arlington, Va.—As Marcellus Shale gas development increases at a rapid pace and scale across northern Appalachia, sportsmen and women in the region have joined forces and created an alliance to urge state and federal agencies and the energy industry to protect long-held hunting, fishing and trapping traditions.
The Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation (Sportsmen Alliance) is an affiliation of sportsmen and women working together to identify and mitigate the impacts of Marcellus Shale gas drilling on hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor sporting activities.
“While there have been many concerns expressed about Marcellus Shale gas development, the voices of sportsmen and women are beginning to emerge in the public dialogue,” said Katy Dunlap, Eastern Water Project Director for Trout Unlimited (TU). “A number of key organizations have joined forces to give sportsmen and women an opportunity to be heard—so that together we can advocate for common sense policies and practices to ensure that Marcellus Shale gas development does not negatively impact sportsmen's interests.”
Members of the Sportsmen Alliance include TU and its Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Mid-Atlantic and New Jersey state councils, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Izaak Walton League of America and its New York and Pennsylvania state divisions, New York State Trappers Association, Quality Deer Management Association, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition and The Wildlife Society. Collectively, the Sportsmen Alliance members represent 60,000 sportsmen and women in the Marcellus Shale states.
The Sportsmen Alliance is not opposed to gas drilling and recognizes its potential economic and social benefits. Rather, it is concerned that the current state and local policies governing gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale do not adequately protect valuable and irreplaceable natural resources, including clean water and critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Sportsmen Alliance has developed a set of recommendations for improving policies and practices for Marcellus Shale development, including:
Gas drilling industry exemptions under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act should be repealed;Each state in the Marcellus Shale region should adopt a comprehensive statewide water withdrawal law;Drilling operations should not be permitted in watersheds with special state?designated conservation status without additional regulatory requirements, review and inspection;High fencing and/or netting should be required around wastewater storage impoundments and well pads to reduce the possibility that wildlife will enter well pad sites and consume wastewater or other toxic chemicals.
Read the full list of recommendations (PDF link).
On Saturday, June 4, the Sportsmen Alliance will host the Sportsmen Marcellus Shale Summit at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown campus, to provide sportsmen and women with an opportunity to learn about potential impacts and discuss ways in which their interests can be protected.
Presenters will include local hunters and anglers, fish and wildlife experts, agencies, industry and sportsmen from the inter-mountain west, where oil and gas development has been actively occurring for decades. For more information about the conference, visit the Sportsmen Alliance website.
Communities in the Marcellus Shale region have a rich heritage of hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor traditions on public and private lands—the very places targeted for Marcellus Shale gas drilling. In the Marcellus states, there are over 13 million sportsmen and women whose interests are at stake.
“As anglers, hunters and trappers, we are the eyes and ears on the ground and we have genuine concerns about the lack of monitoring, inspection and enforcement of Marcellus Shale development activities,” said John Barone, Vice President for Conservation for Theodore Gordon Flyfishers. “Precious resources—like the world renowned and historic trout fisheries of the Catskills and Delaware watersheds—are at risk.”
Hunting and fishing in the Marcellus Shale region is big business. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than $8.4 billion in revenue is generated each year in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia—the three largest Marcellus Shale states—from fishing, hunting and wildlife-related recreation.
“Our members are very concerned about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water resources, fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation,” said Scott Kovarovics, Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America. “The Sportsmen Alliance’s common sense recommendations strike the right balance between energy development and conserving the region’s most important natural resources.”
“Sportsmen and women have a profound appreciation for the quiet solitude experienced when in the woods with nature,” said Dave Miller, Executive Director of the New York State Trappers Association, “and drilling in the forests will inevitably affect the outdoors experience.”
“Deer and other wildlife do not pay attention to property lines, so it is important that protective measures are taken to prevent exposure to drilling wastewater and other contaminants on well pad sites,” said Kip Adams, Northern Region Director of Education and Outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association.
“Equally as important, habitat fragmentation and vegetation loss on well pad sites, access roads and other areas should be minimized,” said Terra Rentz, Assistant Director of Government Affairs and Partnerships for The Wildlife Society, “and when vegetation must be removed, the area should be replanted with native plant species to avoid displacing critical game and non-game species alike.”
“The present drilling activities are just a small fraction of what we will see in the future,” said Dick Martin, Coordinator of the Pennsylvania Forest Coalition. “We must find ways to ensure that they do not interfere with lawful hunting, fishing and trapping on our public lands."
Scott Kovarovics, Izaak Walton League of America, (301) 548-0150 ext. 223
Dave Miller, New York State Trappers Association, (607) 664-7161
Kip Adams, Quality Deer Management Association, (814) 326-4023
Richard Martin, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, (717) 480-0324
John Barone, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, (914) 572-3626
Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited, (607) 742-3331
Terra Rentz, The Wildlife Society, (301) 897-9770 ext. 309