LISBON - The group opposed to drilling and logging at Beaver Creek State Park has been advised drilling will occur under the park at some point but there are no current plans to do so from the surface.
The group's leader, Jim Kerr, told Columbiana County commissioners this week they were able to meet recently with, Glenn Cobb, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' division of parks and recreation, to discuss drilling and logging at the state park. Cobb told them the park will eventually be leased for subsurface drilling.
"I asked him that specifically and he said it would" occur, Kerr said, adding there is no timetable to do so, however.
As for logging and surface drilling in the park, "(Cobb) tells us that at this point in time there are no plans to do either, and we were told if that changes the group would be given the opportunity" to meet again with him, Kerr said.
The group, Save Beaver Creek State Park, is concerned about the potential environmental and aesthetic impact of recent state laws allowing logging and oil and gas drilling to occur on state park lands. This is the second time the organization met with commissioners, who adopted a resolution supporting the group's efforts at their July 18 meeting.
The group has emphasized its opposition extends only to drilling on and not under state land, which is possible today because of a technique known as horizontal drilling. The law requires some of the revenue derived from drilling to go to the park where it occurs, and the group is all for that.
Kerr said during their discussions with ODNR they learned the state does not own the mineral rights to 1,200 of the 2,700 acres that make up Beaver Creek State Park.
'We don't know who they are or what acres they are," he said, adding some of the private mineral rights could be in the middle of the park's historic Pioneer Village. ODNR has indicated it would do its best to negotiate with the private mineral rights owners if this were to occur.
Another group representative, Tom Butch, reported they have also learned state regulations allowing haulers supplying water for drillers, or anyone else for that matter, to take up 100,000 gallons per day from streams such as Beaver Creek without registering with the ODNR.
The state is in the process of drafting new regulations that might address this issue. "We're going to keep an eye on that to see how the rule-making goes," he said, adding if the state fails to address the issue they will ask the local state representative and state senator to introduce legislation.
Kerr said they understand water is needed for the drilling process, but taking it from small streams is a poor alternative to getting it from more plentiful sources.
A group member reportedly came across water being pumped from the West Fork of the Little Beaver Creek near Y-Camp Road in Madison Township to a nearby drilling site. This section is outside the park and also outside the creek's national and scenic river designation.
Kerr said they have contacted state Rep. Craig Newbold, who has expressed his concern to the ODNR about drilling and logging, as has Joseph Shiavoni, who will become the county's next state senator next year.
Approximately 1,500 letters from local residents were delivered to the ODNR's Cobb and more are follow. "Even though we think things are going our way, we are going to continue our letter-writing campaign," Kerr said.