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December 09, 2016
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Land trust sets gas guidelines; a milestone true to its mission

Land trusts like the DHC have protected a total of 47 million acres—an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States. The DHC welcomes new volunteers and members. Visit www.DelawareHighlands.org, email info@delawarehighlands.org or call 570/226-3164 or 845/807-0535 for more information.

Preface to Guidelines for Decisions involving Natural Gas Leases

The Delaware Highlands Conservancy (Conservancy) is an accredited land trust. We work with willing landowners and communities to protect the natural heritage and quality of life of in the Upper Delaware region. Although the Conservancy is not an advocacy organization, our Board of Directors recognizes that the advent of a pervasive industrial activity, such as drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation, is not compatible with our goals.

Our mission is land protection, and our work will continue even if gas drilling occurs here. Gas drilling complicates and compromises the Conservancy’s efforts to protect our region for future generations. For several years we have worked to craft a sensible approach to the threats posed by gas drilling. Other land trusts have issued “policies” on gas drilling that seek to reassure both pro- and anti-drilling factions. We have taken a different approach.

We wish to make clear that we do not favor the introduction of gas drilling into our region. But if it comes, we will continue to carry out our mission to protect the lands in our region that contribute most to its special character. To that end, we have adopted a set of guidelines to inform our land protection efforts.

The guidelines will inform the work of the Conservancy’s Land Protection Committee, which advises the Board of Directors on all land protection decisions and makes recommendations as to whether the Conservancy should acquire conservation easements on particular lands. The guidelines require the Land Protection Committee to undertake enhanced evaluation when considering properties where there are, or may be, gas leases, whether or not they permit surface disturbance. The guidelines also make it clear that our Board of Directors is the ultimate decisionmaker with respect to gas issues, and may reject any Land Protection Committee recommendation to protect land that may be affected by gas drilling.