Loyalsock forest drilling foes march

Some 50 people marched 12 miles through rain and snow to the Williamsport office of state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, to protest drilling for natural gas on Pennsylvania forest lands.

“We have just received such overwhelming support for this,” group spokesman Connor Skutches said as he arrived downtown with other supporters, including members of PennEnvironment, which sponsored the walk.

Skutches then took petitions bearing some 10,000 signatures to Yaw’s second-floor office on Pine Street.

Yaw was not present to meet with the protesters and was not available for comment.

The lawmaker had indicated last week he would be in Pittsburgh Monday.

Several supporters who did not take part in the actual walk were waiting outside Yaw’s office as the march arrived in town.

Some people walked with signs, which included such messages as: “Defend Loyalsock State Forest” and “Keep Rock Run Wild.”

“We all come with the same message – to protect this wild place,” Skutches said.

The marchers arrived in the city at about 4:30 p.m.

Their journey began at 11 a.m. at Wallis Run and Butternut Grove roads near the Loyalsock State Forest trail head.

Skutches said the campaign to collect signatures began about 10 weeks ago.

Anadarko Petroleum reportedly is in negotiations with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to drill for natural gas in the Rock Run area of Loyalsock State Forest.

PennEnvironment is among the organizations and individuals opposing drilling.

Skutches said his group wants Yaw to hold a hearing on any plans for drilling and to work to keep the area wild.

“We have to get more awareness,” said Ralph Kisberg, president of Responsible Drilling Alliance, who was among the protesters.

Kisberg, of Williamsport, said it’s his hope that lawmakers will listen to concerns people have about drilling.

John D’Appollo, of Swarthmore, said he’s concerned about the aftermath of drilling.

“I want to know who’s going to be left to pay,” he said.

PennEnvironment Director David Masur said the state already has lost too much forest land to drilling.

“I think people believe some places should be kept wild,” he said. “Since we have already given up huge swaths of state forests, we should keep some places pristine.”

Richard D’Appollo, of Swarthmore, said he joined the march because he has children and grandchildren.

“I want to see my grandchildren live,” he said. “It’s disgusting that politicians hide from their constituents.”