ADK Working to Protect Allegany State Park from Gas Drilling

Because Allegany State Park lies above the Marcellus shale, ADK has been closely involved in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s regulatory procedures for high-volume hydraulic fracturing in this shale formation, which extends from the Catskills to Lake Erie. ADK is particularly concerned about potential gas drilling on DEC managed state forests traversed by the Finger Lakes Trail and the North Country Scenic Trail.

ADK – along with the state Legislature, New York City and other conservation organizations, such as Trout Unlimited – requested an extension of the comment period on the draft Generic Environmental Impact State on Marcellus Shale gas exploration. DEC granted a one-month extension, allowing comments until the end of December. ADK also testified at Senate and Assembly hearings on the hydro-fracking regulatory procedures.

Gas drilling under the proposed regulatory scheme poses a substantial risk of groundwater contamination and would lead to extensive forest cutting, road building and habitat fragmentation, with unavoidable consequences for animal and plant communities near drilling operations. We believe this activity should be prohibited not only in Allegany State Park, but in other state-owned forests that are extensively used by members of ADK and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference.

ADK recently met with the Natural Heritage Institute’s field biologist and ecologist, and we assembled a comprehensive inventory of the threatened and unique species and habitats of Allegany State Park. This information will be very valuable as we document our case for designating all or most of the park as Park Preserve, the closest thing to “Wilderness” in the park system. We are assembling a large database of information to support this classification and a potential designation of the park as an Important Bird Conservation Area. If we can accomplish these steps, it will be easier to make the case that the environmental impacts of gas exploration and extraction are unacceptable in the park.

The state Attorney General’s Office has been reviewing U.S. Energy’s claim to hold subsurface rights to 2,800 acres in Allegany State Park. The Erie County company has informed the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) that it plans to begin drilling for gas in the park. The AG’s Real Property Office found several title discrepancies that appear to undermine U.S. Energy’s claim. In September, OPRHP wrote to the company and asked for proof of valid real property title to the claimed acreage. The company has not responded.

ADK has learned that the Blacksnake Mountain portion of Allegany State Park is a very important part of the Quaker Run watershed, and its seeps and wetlands where the groundwater comes to the surface, are very vulnerable to bulldozing for access roads and drill pad construction.

Read more about our advocacy efforts:


Allison D. Beals
Director of Government Relations and Conservation
Adirondack Mountain Club
301 Hamilton St.
Albany, NY 12210
(518) 449-3870
[email protected]

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