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Feds to lease State land for drilling
Ohio doesn't control minerals under the Blue Rock State Forest  

Tim Rudell
Blue Rock State Forest includes both woodlands and wetlands, and surrounds Blue Rock State Park
Courtesy of Wikipedia
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The Federal Bureau of Land Management wants to auction gas and oil drilling rights in an Ohio state forest.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell has more on a move that seems to have taken both state authorities and the public by surprise. 

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The state of Ohio owns forty-five hundred-acre Blue Rock State Forrest nearBlue Rock area of eastern Ohio Zanesville... above ground.  But, in a hold-over from a “New Deal” rural land buy-up program during the Great Depression,Farm failure was a big part of the Great Depression  the federal government owns most of what lies underneath.

In the mid 1930s large swaths of eastern Ohio were deemed "poor land for farming" by the newly formed Resettlement Administration. The  RA bought the farms, moved the families to government sponsored areas elswhere, and turned the land over for logging. Decades later, it was titled back to the State of Ohio; but only the surface property, not the mineral rights.  Now, the feds want to generate revenue from those by selling oil and gas leases. An auction is planned for December. 

Environmental concerns
Nathan Johnson of the Buckeye Forrest Council, which opposes drilling on state lands, says the public wasn’t properly informed. “There were no letters, there was no advertisement, just a small item buried on the BLM website.”  Johnson said he only discovered it a week ago--and then more or less by accident.  State Park entranceThe posting was made in March and the public comment period it gave notice of expired in May.  

Bethany McKorkle of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said in a written statement that the agency also was not notified of the comment period.  But in its own statement, the Bureau of Land ManagementU.S. Bureau of Land Management insists it followed the rules.  

More Public Comment
Nathan Johnson says he still hopes federal officials will recognize the need for public dialog and provide more time for comment.  

Related WKSU Stories

Debate over oil drilling in Ohio state parks
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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