February 28, 2007
AGREEMENT REACHED TO LIMIT CLEARING AT GAS STORAGE WELLS
IN MOHICAN-MEMORIAL STATE FOREST AND MOHICAN STATE PARK
ODNR and Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. sign memorandum of understanding
to reduce impact of timber clearing in popular outdoor recreation areas
COLUMBUS, OH The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation have reached an agreement that will reduce the ecological impact of tree and undergrowth clearing at its natural gas storage wells in Mohican-Memorial State Forest and Mohican State Park southeast of Mansfield.
“This is an important win for everyone who treasures the natural beauty of the Mohican region and appreciates its economic value as one of Ohio’s prime recreational destinations,” said ODNR Director Sean Logan. “Columbia can be applauded for its willingness do what’s needed to ensure the safety and security of Ohio’s energy-supply system, while at the same time respecting the ecological integrity of this important natural resource.”
Under terms of the agreement, initial clearing work will focus on nine of the 56 gas storage wells that Columbia Gas operates within Mohican-Memorial State Forest and Mohican State Park. Further talks will be needed to resolve issues about clearing along Columbia’s natural gas pipelines in the area.
State Senator Bill Harris, whose district includes the state park and state forest properties in Ashland County and who helped facilitate talks between ODNR and Columbia, expressed appreciation for the agreement.
“I am grateful to ODNR and Columbia Gas Transmission for their ability to hammer out a true ‘win-win’ settlement on an issue so vital to Ohio,” Harris said. “I hope this will set the tone for an agreement regarding Columbia’s pipeline right of way within Mohican.”
In the five-year agreement signed by ODNR and Columbia Gas Transmission, the company agrees to limit most tree clearing to an area within 60 feet of the selected storage wells in the state park and state forest. In addition, Columbia and ODNR agree to the removal of trees greater than 10 inches in diameter in a zone 60 to 120 feet from each well.
Additional specified criteria in the agreement include:
- A provision to retain some trees in the 60-120 foot zone by mutual agreement;
- Trees down-slope from a well site, such as within the Clear Fork gorge, would not be removed;
- An extensive list of Best Management Practices will be utilized during tree clearing activities;
- Any impact to recreational trails would be repaired as soon as practical.
The State of Ohio began land acquisition to create Mohican-Memorial State Forest in 1928. Gas wells within the forest pre-date state ownership. In the 1950s, the State of Ohio entered into an agreement to allow Mohican-Memorial State Forest to be used as an underground natural gas storage area.
ODNR manages the 4,525-acre Mohican-Memorial State Forest as well as the separate 1,294-acre Mohican State Park and 29-acre Clear Fork Gorge State Nature Preserve.