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............."Oh, the gallant fisher's life, It is the best of any 'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife, And 'tis beloved of many." ..........[Piscator's Song, "The Compleat Angler" by Izaak Walton] "The fishers also shall mourn,and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish." [Isaiah XIX:8]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Of Forests and Brooks and the Things that Dwell Therein

An Anxious Moment (Currier and Ives, 1874)

An open letter to my state representative:

I write to request your support of Pennsylvania House Bill 2235, a bill that would place a moratorium on leasing state forest lands for natural gas drilling. I do not know if the proposed 5-year moratorium is the appropriate time constraint, but I do believe a throrough, unhurried environmental impact study needs to be done to insure the protection of important public land for its various uses with minimal or no damage done to valuable streams, wildlife habitat, wildlife, and fishes.

Pennsylvania's state forests are one of our greatest public assets and are home to many of the state's highest quality trout streams. Much of this area is habitat for native Eastern brook trout; such habitat is a precious and already-diminishing resource. But these forests provide more than just hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities. They support tourism, local businesses and a sustainable timber supply while ensuring valuable 'green space' and beauty. These forest lands must be protected and well-maintained.

Jumping Trout (Winslow Homer, 1889)

Currently, one-third of our state forests are open to natural gas drilling and exploration. Many of these lands are being leased to help balance Pennsylvania's budget deficit. As a resident of Pennsylvania, along with Trout Unlimited and many other nature conservation organizations and agencies, I believe that the budget should not be balanced at the expense of permanent damage to the precious public lands in terms of loss of forest habitat, of pure flowing waters, and of the flora and fauna that depend on such habitat. Putting a freeze on new leasing until a comprehensive environmental impact study is completed is crucial to ensure our streams are protected and state lands are managed responsibly.

On behalf of not only anglers and hunters in Pennsylvania but for all of us who care about the valuable and varied treasures of the commonwealth, I plead with you and the other lawmakers of our state to provide a wise stewardship of our state forest lands for the good of all.

A reckless pursuit of natural gas through the process of Marcellus Shale drilling could well produce a disastrous diminishment of quality of life for us all rather than the increase it claims to offer. This is NOT simply a matter of economics. The love of money continues to be the root of all kinds of evil.

I am grateful for your consideration.


R. Daniel Knox


  1. Marcellus shale drilling is very intensive, deep fracturing of the shale. Then, enormous amounts of water must be pumped into the drilling hole to force the gas out. The threat posed is the extremely large amount of fresh water that must be used, thus endangering stream water flows. In addition, the Marcellus shale drilling waste water, containing high concentrations of dissolved solids, poses a "real threat" to Pennsylvania's rivers and streams. The increase in total dissolved solids, or TDS, pollutants from natural gas drilling, mining discharges and other sources has already impaired and degraded major sources of drinking water and harmed aquatic life.

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