LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Future of Hemlock, Canadice lakes at stake
We, in the western Finger Lakes are blessed with two of the most beautiful uninhabited lakes and the forests that surround them: Hemlock and Canadice.
These lakes serve not only as excellent habitat for wildlife, wonderful areas for recreation, hunting and fishing but also as an important drinking water source.
The NYS DEC has drafted a Unit Management Plan for these two newly acquired State Forests, as it does for all NYS Forests. This plan can be accessed on the DEC website (http://search.usa.gov/search?affiliate=nysdec&query=hemlock+canadice+ump&Search.x=41&Search.y=7) and I recommend reading it, especially the sections that concern mineral resources, gas drilling and leasing, and pipelines, etc.
According to the NYS DEC’s Unit Management Plan for Hemlock and Canadice Forests:
“Oil and natural gas are valuable resources which can provide energy and revenue as well as the opportunity for improvements to the existing infrastructure of State lands (such as improving safe and restricted access through upgrading existing roads, culverts and gates) and creation of grassy openings to enhance habitat diversity. As with any other human activity on State lands, oil and natural gas exploration and development can impact the environment. Most impacts are short term and occur during the siting and drilling phases of a well.” There are at least five sections of the Hemlock-Canadice Forest UMP that are devoted to oil and gas development.
UMP’s are guided by the Environmental Impact Statement known as the Strategic Plan for State Forest Management. The Clean Water Coalition has filed a lawsuit with the DEC over this Strategic Plan stating that it was unconstitutional and did not protect forests from hydrofracking.
UMP’s would defer to regulations dictated by the SGEIS for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing should the process be permitted and the SGEIS adopted. Drilling on state lands is not prohibited in the SGEIS.
Environmental Conservation Law and State Finance Law authorizes the DEC to lease land for gas drilling on behalf of NYS for exploration, production and development of oil and gas on state lands. As of 2011, the NYS DEC had leased 4,5000 acres of state land for gas drilling in ten counties. The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources is both a regulator and facilitator of gas drilling. Could this not be construed as a conflict of interest?
There simply is no regulatory document (SGEIS, Strategic Plan for State Forest Management or Unit Management Plans) prohibiting leasing for drilling or HVHF on state land and this leaves the Hemlock and Canadice Forest “Unit” vulnerable to fracking and all the potential negative consequences that accompany this heavy industry. One word is all that is needed: banned.
The city of Rochester may well feel betrayed by the DEC for promoting such an activity in this water shed.
Please write comments and attend the informational meeting/public hearing regarding the UMP for Hemlock and Canadice Forests on Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Springwater Fire Hall in Springwater. The health and unique character of this remarkable area is at stake.