Urge Forest Service to Stand Firm on Gas Drilling Limits

Despite tremendous public comment in support of the proposed ban on horizontal drilling in the GWNF draft plan, the Forest Service appears to be backing down.

Please ask Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to stand firm on GWNF’s proposed horizontal drilling ban. Email Secretary Vilsack at  and ask him to keep fracking out of GWNF.

We need your help to protect healthy forests and drinking water in Virginia and West Virginia by keeping a proposed ban on natural gas fracking on the George Washington National Forest.

The US Forest Service is under intense pressure by the gas industry to abandon its proposal to prohibit horizontal drilling on more than one million acres on the George Washington National Forest.  This ban is intended to limit or prevent the riskiest fracking, with large volumes of water and chemicals, on any future federal oil and gas leases on this Forest.

Please tell Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, that the agency must stand firm. Let him know the well-considered ban was supported by 10 local governments and the great majority (95 percent) of more than 53,000 public comments on the new GW National Forest management plan, which will guide forest land uses for the next 15 years.

The George Washington National Forest hosts more than a million visitors each year, supplies drinking water to more than 260,000 local residents, and is headwaters of the Potomac and the James River, the drinking water sources for millions in cities such as Washington, DC and Richmond, VA. The Forest Service decision to prohibit horizontal drilling for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest is a well-justified and sensible precaution in light of the well-documented environmental impacts of hydrofracking.

Send a letter directly to Secretary Vilsack to ask him to encourage the Forest Service to stand firm on the GW Forest ban on fracking. The Secretary of Agriculture needs to hear from each of us who values the integrity of our national forest lands.

Please also ask Secretary Vilsack to limit vertical gas drilling.  The Forest Service proposed to make nearly the entire GW Forest available for vertical drilling in the draft plan.  Since vertical gas wells are usually fracked, too, and since they can disturb fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, and other resources, the potential impacts of vertical gas drilling on the GW need to be more thoroughly studied, with public input, before opening these lands to drilling.

Thank you for your support on this critical issue!

Please personalize the draft message below and send to 

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Copy for Vilsack Comment

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

I support the US Forest Service’s sensible proposal to protect forest resources and drinking water on the George Washington National Forest by prohibiting horizontal drilling on any future federal oil and gas leases in the new Forest Plan.

The Forest Service should stand firm. The well-considered ban, which is intended to limit or prevent high-volume hydraulic fracturing, was supported by the great majority (95 percent) of more than 53,000 public comments, as well as by many local governments adjacent to the Forest.

The proposed ban on horizontal drilling will protect the direct drinking water source for 260,000 local residents and the headwaters of the James and Potomac Rivers which supply water to millions in cities in Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland, safeguard fish and wildlife habitat, and preserve the forest recreation experience for the more than 1 million people who visit the George Washington National Forest each year.

The draft forest plan also proposed to make nearly the entire GW Forest available for vertical gas drilling.  The potential impacts of vertical gas drilling on the GW should be more thoroughly studied, with public input, before a decision is made.  At a minimum, local drinking water supply watersheds, priority watersheds, and other sensitive natural, scenic and recreation areas should be made unavailable to drilling.

Thank you for your support on this critical issue.

Posted in GW National Forest Plan