Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary John Quigley told the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee recently he was concerned thousands of new natural gas wells and thousands of miles of access roads and related collection pipelines could have a major impact on Pennsylvania's State Forests.
The fragmentation of forest habitats has also been a concern of environmental groups like Pennsylvania Audubon.
Until now it was hard to illustrate how natural gas and oil well development can affect a forest. Recently, however, the website Damascus Citizens circulated aerial photos of gas well sites from all over the country, including in Pennsylvania.
An aerial photo of traditional oil and gas well development in Forest County, Pa in a portion of the Allegheny National Forest just north of the Clear Creek State Forest clearly shows how roads and drilling pads can fragment a forest.
To see it for yourself, enter these coordinates in Google Earth-- 41 degrees, 30 minutes 47.77 seconds North, 79 degrees 11 minutes 16.13 seconds west.
Marcellus Shale well development patterns are different because they use fewer well pads by drilling very deep vertical wells and then drill horizontal wells out in several directions in the natural gas producing strata.
The aerial photo on Google Earth is part of the statewide series made available by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' PA Map Program, recently eliminated in this year's state budget.