We applaud the GWNF for a proposed ban on horizontal drilling (hydrofracking) for natural gas and better protections for our drinking water sources. With your help, they can make a good plan even better.
Shenandoah Valley Network offers the following endorsements and recommendations for key elements of the forest management plan.
Ban on Horizontal Drilling (Hydrofracking) for Natural Gas
Support the prohibition against this type of drilling anywhere on the forest, which will protect drinking water resources and prevent industrialization of public forest lands.
Ask for 1) a more thorough study of the impacts of vertical gas drilling, which would be allowed on nearly all of the forest and (2) additional restrictions on vertical gas drilling, including a ban on drilling in local drinking water supply areas, priority watersheds, and sensitive natural, scenic and recreation areas.
Public Drinking Water Protection
Support the identification of drinking water supply areas and the expansion of protective buffers on streams and reservoirs, which will almost double in width up to 100 feet.
Ask for 1) all local drinking water supply areas to be identified as priority watersheds and 2)more defined management “standards” to protect priority watersheds, particularly limits on road construction, which degrades water quality.
Limits on Wind Energy Development
Support the ban on industrial wind projects on sensitive ridgelines in the forest, including the Shenandoah Mountain Crest and remote backcountry areas.
Ask for the ban to be expanded to include drinking water supply areas and key natural heritage areas, where industrial-scale windturbine facilities and road construction can degrade water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational uses.
National Forest Management Vital to Local Land Use & Water Quality
The final management plan will guide activities on 1.1. million acres of public lands for the next 15 years. Forest land uses – from recreation and timber harvesting to gas drilling and wind energy development – are critically important to Valley residents and their local governments, due to the big blocks of public land in some counties and as the source of clean drinking water for more than 260,000 residents.
· The forest represents 29 percent of all the land in Augusta County, 24 percent in Rockingham and Shenandoah, 13 percent in Page, 4.5 percent in Warren and just under three percent in Frederick.
· The forest provides drinking water for 52,635 residents of Rockingham County, Harrisonburg, Broadway and Bridgewater; 41,840 in Frederick County, Winchester and Middletown; 20,124 in Augusta County and Staunton; 12,500 in Front Royal; and 8,452 in Strasburg and Woodstock.
Most of the counties, cities and towns, endorsed resolutions in 2008 asking the Forest Service to identify and protect vital drinking watersheds. In 2010, Augusta, Staunton, Rockingham and Harrisonburg officials called on the Forest Service to ban or impose a moratorium on horizontal (hydrofracking) natural gas drilling, to further protect drinking water supplies.