RALSTON - Any possible drilling for natural gas in the Rock Run area of McIntyre Township remains on hold as discussions between officials from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and the state continue.
Township supervisors have been eager to receive answers about the issue and invited Anadarko officials to their Monday night meeting in Ralston to share their plans about drilling.
However, no company officials attended, and just a handful of citizens showed up for the evening session.
McIntyre Township supervisors and citizens concerned about the possibility of gas drilling in the Rock Run area of Loyalsock State Forest meet in Ralston Monday.
In September, a rally in Ralston reportedly drew hundreds of people who expressed concerns about gas development occurring around Rock Run in Loyalsock State Forest, a popular recreation and fishing area noted for its scenic beauty.
Drilling has been active in areas north and south of the township.
Meanwhile, Anadarko spokesman Matt Carmichael said Monday the company has not been given the go-ahead by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to drill there.
In fact, nothing new has transpired during the fall months regarding any plans for gas development, he said.
In October, company officials indicated that discussions between the two parties had concentrated on the identification and protection of species and habitat.
Township Supervisor Al Boyer said he's been advised by Anadarko that negotiations between the drilling company and DCNR are ongoing.
He also said the state Department of Environmental Protection has indicated that Anadarko might be willing to drill in areas of forest land away from the Rock Run watershed as part of the negotiation process.
He said the township should have a say in the process and expressed concern about drilling in what he feels is a protected area.
"Rock Run is a high-quality trout stream," he said. "It could easily be destroyed."
DCNR officials had no specific answers about drilling plans when contacted last week.
"There is seismic testing being done in the area of the Old Loggers Path in the Loyalsock State Forest, as is the case throughout much of the
state, to acquire better data about what lies below the surface," said DCNR spokeswoman Christine Novak.
"Specific to this area, there is a complex combination of publicly and privately owned surface and subsurface rights, so at the moment there is no definitive answer about what will occur in the future. As the law applies, DCNR cannot prohibit access to subsurface mineral rights it does not own, but we do work proactively with the owners to balance the interests of all users of the forest."
The Old Loggers Path is a 27-mile loop trail in McIntyre Township starting in the lumber ghost town of Masten and following grades of abandoned logging roads and railroads. Rock Run is just outside the trail.
The state bought the land in 1933, but not the mineral rights.
Anadarko reportedly purchased 50 percent of the mineral rights under the state forest.
However, the deed to the DNCR property limited surface rights access to a 50-year term, now expired, which drilling opponents believe could restrict Anadarko's ability to drill for gas.
Township Supervisor Dan Clark said he had hoped Anadarko would send a representative to the meeting.
Carmichael acknowledged an invitation to attend the session, but made it clear Monday afternoon no company officials would be there.
At this time, any plans to drill around Rock Run remain on hold, he said.