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Hunters may be surprised by level of Marcellus activity

Posted: November 7, 2010

As a hunter, you may be surprised by the level of drilling activity associated with Marcellus shale on public lands in Pennsylvania. This article provides information, resources, and advice to help you make your hunting plans.
Photo by Craig McKibben

Photo by Craig McKibben

Written by Margaret Brittingham, Penn State University

Hunters venturing out this hunting season may be surprised by the level of Marcellus activity on public land in the North central, Northeastern and Southwestern regions of the state where gas exploration and development associated with the Marcellus Shale formation have increased exponentially over the past year.  As of October 1 there were 4,510 active Marcellus permits.  Compare this with October 1, 2009 when there were 1,970 permits.  Associated with the drilling activity, hunters will find new or modified roads in many areas and may encounter large amounts of truck traffic in areas where active drilling is occurring.  To accommodate hunters and reduce conflicts, DCNR will be limiting heavy truck traffic associated with Marcellus activities on the three days of bear season (November 20,22,23) and other days when numbers of hunters are high (November 29 and 30, and December 4 and 11) in many areas. 

Hunters may also come upon large open areas that are cleared or being cleared as well pad sites.  The well pad is considered to be a restricted area that is not open to the public.  The dividing line between the public forest and the restricted area is the native vegetation line.  Individuals standing in the native vegetation are considered to be on public ground.  Those standing on the well pad are in restricted areas and fall under the rules and regulations of the company doing the drilling and completion activities.  Most active drilling locations have a guard shack to identify all individuals accessing the pad.  This is mainly a safety feature should a major accident or event happen on the pad and to keep the general public from being injured.  Individuals hunting within the pad boundaries may be asked for their names and purpose for being there. The well pad locations where there are drilling and fracing activities occurring will be posted with Safety Zone signs 150 yards from the edge of the pad.  No hunting will be allowed within the safety zone.  With both drilling and fracing there are workers temporarily living on site 24 hours a day. Pads not subject to drilling or production activities will not be posted. 

Hunters are advised to check out their favorite hunting sites ahead of time as access may be restricted in areas surrounding active drilling operations.

A number of websites have information on where drilling is occurring.  The Pennsylvania DCNR provides a map of current Marcellus permits and a list of what roads are open for hunting season on State Forest Land.

For the most up to date and accurate information, contact the appropriate DCNR district forest office.