State has no active drill leases here

The Times Leader staff

There are approximately 49,000 acres of State Game Lands throughout Luzerne County and portions of that are near areas being eyed by natural gas companies.

Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said the agency doesn’t have any active leases for gas drilling at this time in Luzerne County, but in other areas where drilling has occurred on game lands, use by hunters is restricted to a degree.

According to Feaser, the drill sites aren’t classified as safety zones but the access to active sites is restricted. Boundaries are determined by the Game Commission and the gas companies. Once the drilling process is complete, Feaser said, the area is available for hunting and trapping.

On Game Lands where the PGC owns the gas rights and enters into a lease, Feaser said, they typically reach agreements with companies to avoid activity during peak hunting seasons. Also, the agency can prioritize setbacks or limit where drilling can occur near environmentally sensitive areas and other habitats on game lands where it owns the rights.

“Our focus is protecting wildlife habitats, and if there is a possible threat to sensitive areas, we don’t allow drilling,” Feaser said. “However, the complication is when we don’t own the rights to the gas resource, we then lose the ability to control the project.”

Copyright: Times Leader