Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Game Commission Land Acquisitions, Energy Deals Highlight Board Meeting

Pennsylvania’s system of state game lands would grow by more than 50 acres, thanks to two land donations approved Tuesday by the Board of Game Commissioners.
One tract – located in West Finley Township, Washington County, near State Game Lands 245 – was offered by Dr. David A. Celko.
Celko would retain the oil, gas and mineral rights associated with the 29.4-acre tract, which is mostly forested with mixed hardwoods, is traversed by Blockhouse Run and has a 5-acre scrub-shrub wetland complex.
The other land donation – two tracts totaling 34 acres adjoining State Game Lands 43 in Warwick Township, Chester County – was offered by Natural Lands Trust.
The forested tracts lie within the Hopewell Big Woods Important Mammal Area and the Hay Creek-French Creek Forest Block Important Bird Area. Access from the east is from a private drive off Pine Swamp Road, and from Laurel Road to the west.
New Natural Gas Deals
Energy-development agreements approved the Board of Game Commissioners are expected to result in nearly $1.5 million in bonus payments, which will be added to the Game Fund.
Energy Corporation of America (ECA) has agreed to develop natural gas under approximately 370 acres beneath State Game Lands 223 in Greene and Cumberland townships, Greene County.
The five-year agreement will not result in any surface disturbance to the game lands, and ECA will pay the Game Commission 18 percent royalty for all oil, gas and other liquids or condensates produced and sold from the tract.
Additionally, ECA has agreed to pay a $4,000 per acre bonus payment, which will add about $1,482,400 to the Game Fund.
The board also approved an agreement to develop the gas rights beneath 0.36 acres of the Mount Wheeler Tower Site in Washington County, which was acquired by the Game Commission in 2008.
Range Resources has agreed to a five-year lease that will result in no surface disturbance to the site. The company has agreed to pay the Game Commission 20 percent royalty for all oil, gas and other liquids or condensates produced and sold from the tract, as well as a $2,000 bonus payment.
Oil and gas development at each site will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s oil and gas regulations and the Commission’s Standard Non-Surface Use Oil and Gas Cooperative Agreement.
Additional Game Lands Tracts
PennDOT cleared to reserve 50-acre parcel to replace game lands disturbed by projects.
A 50-acre tract completely surrounded by State Game Lands 330 in Piney Township, Clarion County, has been cleared for eventual transfer to the Game Commission.
The Board of Game Commissioners approved the transfer from the state Department of Transportation.
The land will be transferred to the Game Commission at some time in the future.
When game lands are affected by transportation projects, PennDOT is required to compensate the Game Commission for the affected acreage by providing replacement lands. For projects affecting less than five acres, the acreage is placed in reserve rather than provided in small pieces. In this case, when the total in reserve reaches 50 acres, the parcel will be transferred.
About half of the Piney Township tract has been deemed a critical and unique habitat for state-endangered short-eared owl, upland sandpiper and dickcissel, as well as the state-threatened northern harrier. The tract also has been the site of documented breeding and nesting by Henslow’s sparrow, a species of special concern.
Access to the property is from Mount Zion Road, which bisects the property to north.
Mine Reclamation
The reclamation of refuse coal beneath about 23 acres of State Game Lands 332 in Indiana County could generate an estimated $1 million for the Game Commission, based on an agreement approved by the Board.
Robindale Energy Services Inc., of Armagh, has agreed to remove an estimated 1.8 million tons of recoverable coal refuse material beneath the game lands. The six-year deal permits the company to occupy an additional 41 acres, as well.
Mining will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s Mining Regulations and the Commission’s Standard Coal Refuse Reclamation Agreement.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Game Commission website.

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