Monday, October 18, 2010

Protect Zoar Valley and Drinking Water from Fracking

The Zoar Valley is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas of Western NY. I have hiked and snowshoed the rim trails of the gigantic gorge, looking down from the cliffs at Cattaraugus Creek, 400 feet below. I've navigated a canoe through the current and rapids on one-way trips from west of Springville to Gowanda. So much to do there, and so much to see - spring wildflowers, waterfalls cascading down the cliffs, virgin and secondary-growth forests, herons, hawks and even an occasional bald eagle - this is a sacred place that must be protected.

Recently, I was shocked to learn of a proposal by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to allow gas drilling in the Zoar Valley State Forest using hydrofracking and horizontal drilling (see article by Larry Beahan, below). The controversial fracking process contaminates millions of gallons of fresh water per gas well with toxic chemicals to help release the shale gas, permanently buries most of the water deep underground (see article by Lynda H. Schneekloth, below) and has been blamed for contamination of drinking water and human illnesses. We can not let this happen in our beautiful Zoar Valley. Keep in mind too that the Cattaraugus Creek drains into Lake Erie, the source of drinking water in the Buffalo area.

The DEC writes that public comment is encouraged and will be accepted through 4:45 p.m., Friday, October 29, 2010. Please read the articles below, review the information on the DEC website, and submit comments to the DEC by email to State Forest Strategic Plan ( Comments may also be mailed in a letter to Strategic Plan for State Forest Management, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4255.

Larry Beahan: State’s management plan would destroy Zoar Valley
...the Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed a “Strategic Forest Management Plan” for Zoar Valley and the rest of the 770,000 acres of New York State Forests. These forests are patches of wild land scattered across the state, set aside for their unique natural wonders or for simple reforestation.

This plan was sprung upon us with a bare two months until the Oct. 29 deadline on comments. The plan would industrialize these wild preserves with deep-well gas extraction using hydrofracking and horizontal drilling.

Its 5-acre wellheads, massive truck traffic, maze of roads, insatiable demand for fresh water and inevitable pollution of surface waters with salt, heavy metals and radon has no place in our state, let alone in such vulnerable and revered places as Zoar Valley.

The DEC’s plan proposes not only “fracking” in the forests but using forest resources to support fracking elsewhere. The plan would inject the witch’s brew of waste water from other sites into exhausted state forest gas wells and hope that it would not migrate into our drinking water. It would “steal” fresh water from these forests and turn it into polluted fracking waste.
Write the DEC and call legislators. Tell them to protect our State Forests from fracking and stop the Strategic Forest Management Plan.

Lynda H. Schneekloth: Hydrofracking puts fresh water beyond reach forever
Is it OK to ruin ground water, to “disappear” fresh water from the planet when only 1.5 percent of all the water on earth is fresh to begin with?

Hydrofracking leaves trillions of gallons of our fresh water deep in the bowels of the earth — forever.

No comments: