Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 14, 2018

Contact: Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,  

 Ohio's Wayne National Forest Announces Land-planning Update Following Fracking Lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio— The U.S. Forest Service is revising its land-management plan governing Wayne National Forest, opening the door to curbing fracking in Ohio’s only national forest. Fracking threatens the Wayne’s rivers, endangered species and deciduous forests ― the very ecosystems Congress intended to protect when it created the Wayne in the 1930s.

“The Wayne’s management plan is completely outdated, so this is welcome news,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The public can now demand a plan that bans fracking in the Wayne. People cherish this spectacular place for its clean water, wildlife and wild forests, not industrialization and pollution.”

Tuesday’s announcement comes as the Forest Service faces a federal lawsuit from the Center and other conservation groups for issuing fracking leases under the current, outdated land-management plan. The 2006 plan, which was last updated before the fracking boom in eastern Ohio, fails to account for the impacts of fracking on public health, water, endangered species and the climate.

“No additional leasing should be allowed under the current management plan, which puts fracking above public health and wildlife,” said McKinnon. “The Forest Service needs to listen to the public and spare Ohio’s only national forest from more fracking and industrialization.”

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, federal agencies must analyze a range of alternatives when designing a new forest-management plan, including alternatives that reduce potential environmental impacts. The plan guides decisions anytime a new project is proposed for the forest. Public hearings on the plan’s updates begin next month.

Clear cutting to make way for fracking well pads, roads and other infrastructure would reverse decades of forest and watershed recovery in the Wayne and destroy habitat for endangered Indiana bats and threatened northern long-eared bats. The bats are already imperiled by forest fragmentation, white-nose syndrome and climate change. Pollution from explosions and spills would damage water supplies that provide drinking water for millions of people.

Since opening 40,000 acres of the forest to fracking leases in 2016, the Bureau of Land Management has auctioned off more than 2,300 acres of the Wayne National Forest. The Center and other conservation groups have challenged all of those lease sales.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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