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Protect Ohio’s State Public Lands

Ohio’s public lands need us now more than ever. After twelve years of the OEC, partners, and concerned citizens fighting off fracking threats to Ohio’s parks — including a lawsuit we are still waging — the oil and gas industry’s push to use our natural resources for profits has reached a new level. We need you to speak up to protect Ohio’s state parks and public lands from oil and gas leasing.

The OEC will continue to update our members and send alerts for nominations of major state public lands. 


Latest News:

May 31, 2024: An anonymous drilling company nominated another major portion of Salt Fork State Park for oil and gas leasing. The Oil and Gas Land Management Commission will take public comments through July 15 through the official portal by selecting nomination number 24-DNR-0004. See below for details on how to submit your public comment.

May 20, 2024: The ODNR Oil and Gas Land Management Commission denied the fracking leasing nomination for Egypt Valley Wildlife Area, 18,000 acres in Belmont County. Most of Egypt Valley was purchased through a federal grant, the terms of which require any change in use for the land to be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Egypt Valley has been nominated a second time for fracking, with comments open until June 14. Please file your comment about Egypt Valley again here.

April 4, 2024: The 84 acre Keen Wildlife Area in Harrison County, and a portion of the 18,000 acre Egypt Valley Wildlife Area in Belmont and Guernsey Counties – purchased in 1995 by ODNR from the Conservation Fund were nominated for oil and gas leasing. Please continue to speak out on behalf of our State Public Lands – by signing up for Action Alerts with Save Ohio Parks to stay updated on the latest leasing nominations and the process for submitting public comments. We also encourage you to please register for updates from ODNR Oil & Gas Commission (by sending an email to Commission.Clerk@oglmc.ohio.gov)

March 22, 2024:  The OEC joined Earthjustice, Save Ohio Parks, Buckeye Environmental Network, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in a legal effort to protect Ohio’s largest state park and two wildlife areas from oil and gas development. Together, we filed an appeal challenging a judge’s February order which denied our right to challenge rulings by the Ohio Oil & Gas Land Management Commission. Read more here.

February 26, 2024: Ohio Oil & Gas Land Management Commission awarded bids to lease Salt Fork State Park, Valley Run Wildlife Area, and Zepernick Wildlife Area for oil and gas development despite public outcry.

February 20, 2024: OEC and Earthjustice File Motion for Suspension of Agency Orders Regarding the February 26, 2024 Oil and Gas Land Management Commission Hearing. The appeal was rejected by the court.

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and Earthjustice, on behalf of the OEC and Save Ohio Parks, filed a Motion for Suspension of Agency Orders to halt pending action scheduled for the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission’s (OGLMC) meeting on February 26, 2024. 

The meeting scheduled for February 26, 2024 accelerates the bidding process for oil and gas development of Salt Fork State Park and other state lands nearly three months sooner than required by statute. Once the Commission selects the “highest and best” bids, the statute requires the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to lease the Nominated Lands to those bidders. The Commission’s rush to select the highest and best bid is also a rush for the state to sign the leases for these public lands — committing Ohio state parks and lands to high-volume fracking for the first time in the state’s history.

February 8, 2024: OEC and Earthjustice file merits brief in lawsuit against the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and Earthjustice, on behalf of the OEC and Save Ohio Parks, filed their merit brief today in Save Ohio Parks et al v. Oil & Gas Land Management Commission. The parties argued that the Commission violated Ohio law when it failed to hold a hearing and didn’t consider required statutory factors when placing state land up for bid for oil and gas leases.

The parties’ brief can be read in its entirety here.

November 30, 2023: The OEC and partners sued to halt oil & gas leasing in Ohio State Parks and Public Lands. Click here to read more about the appeal and words from the groups and attorneys representing the case.

Despite enormous public resistance statewide and a pending Ohio Attorney General investigation, the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission voted to approve fracking for fossil fuels in three state parks and wildlife areas:

  • Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County
  • Valley Run Wildlife Area in Carroll County
  • Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County

Click here to read our full statement about the Commission’s decision.

September 18, 2023: The Oil and Gas Land Management Commission tabled further discussion of leasing state parks and wildlife areas until its next meeting in October.

An investigation by The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com revealed that dozens of Ohioans — including a 9-year-old girl — believe their names and personal information were used without their permission in public comments that falsely claimed they want fracking in Ohio’s state parks.

The Ohio Environmental Council and Save Ohio Parks are calling on the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission to remove the comments in question from all leasing nominations and pause decision-making on all leasing nominations containing allegedly fake public comments until the public record is accurate.

A few weeks after HB 507 went into effect in April, and a few weeks after we filed our lawsuit, the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission implemented rules governing the leasing process, causing the mandatory leasing provision to be superseded by the new rules.


Additional Nominations:

To stay informed of all land nominations, please register for updates from ODNR Oil & Gas Commission (send an email to Commission.Clerk@oglmc.ohio.gov), and/or join Save Ohio Parks email list.


Salt Fork State Park – DUE JULY 15

The public has 45 days to comment on each nomination after it is announced. Public comments on the most recent Salt Fork nomination are due by July 15th. The detailed OEC technical comment for the original Salt Fork nomination is available to view, along with a more general example comment from an Ohio citizen.  We have pulled together science and data to help the public make the case for protecting the places we love. However, your comment can include as much or as little data as you want. Share why Salt Fork matters to you!

While resubmitting your public comment for Salt Fork State Park may feel redundant, it is one of the most impactful ways that we can protect our parks in this new nomination and leasing process. Since this is a brand new process, we don’t know how the committee will evaluate multiple nominations for the same area. It is possible that they could just choose one nomination, and therefore only comments from that nomination, to be evaluated. The fossil fuel industry is dedicating time and resources to each nomination, so we must as well if we want to save our parks.

Submit your comments to the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission through July 15 using  the official portal by selecting nomination number 24-DNR-0004

Because of the significant impact this decision will have for Ohio’s largest state park and for all state public lands, we are asking you to submit your own comment. Comments from individual Ohioans that showcase why Salt Fork State Park matters to YOU are an especially persuasive way to impact the commission’s decision. 

Suggested topics to include your comment: 

  • Public health impacts
  • Damage to quality outdoor recreation
    • Include any of your personal recreational experiences (hiking, boating, camping, swimming, climbing, running, bird watching, etc.) at Salt Fork that would be impacted!
  • Toxic air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution, and climate pollution from fracking. 

Salt Fork State Park – DUE SEPTEMBER 25

The public has 45 days to comment on each nomination after it is announced.  Public comments on the second Salt Fork nomination are due by September 25th. The detailed OEC technical comment for the original Salt Fork nomination is available to view, along with a more general example comment from an Ohio citizen.  We have pulled together science and data to help the public make the case for protecting the places we love. However, your comment can include as much or as little data as you want. Share why Salt Fork matters to you!

While resubmitting your public comment for Salt Fork State Park may feel redundant, it is one of the most impactful ways that we can protect our parks in this new nomination and leasing process. Since this is a brand new process, we don’t know how the committee will evaluate multiple nominations for the same area. It is possible that they could just choose one nomination, and therefore only comments from that nomination, to be evaluated. The fossil fuel industry is dedicating time and resources to each nomination, so we must as well if we want to save our parks.

To submit your comments, please email to the Commission Clerk at Commission.Clerk@oglmc.ohio.gov and include the following statement in your email subject line: “Public Comments on Nomination #: 23-DNR-0009.”

Because of the significant impact this decision will have for Ohio’s largest state park and for all state public lands, we are asking you to submit your own comment. Comments from individual Ohioans that showcase why Salt Fork State Park matters to YOU are an especially persuasive way to impact the commission’s decision. 

Nomination #: 23-DNR-0009

Wolf Run State Park – DUE SEPTEMBER 10

Located in southeast Ohio’s Noble County, Wolf Run State Park offers more than 1,000 acres of scenic, peaceful woodlands and cool, clean waters for a quiet retreat. Nestled in the heart of Appalachia, the region’s second growth forest now provides high-quality outdoor recreation such as camping, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and winter recreation, including 3.5 miles of the Buckeye Trail, and a 200-foot public swimming beach.

Home to diverse flora and fauna, including deer, weasels, bats, black rat snakes, box turtles, wild turkey, ruffed grouse and great horned owls who make their home in the recovering mixed-mesophytic forest. Now is the time to stand up for Wolf Run State Park, the protection of all our public lands, and the quality of life they make possible for all Ohioans.

Update: Due to new state landowners being identified, this nomination has been reposted.

TAKE ACTION:

The OEC has drafted technical comments on the leasing nomination. You are welcome to use these comments in your own letter, however, personal letters are strongly encouraged.

To write your own comment on the Wolf Run State Park nomination, email the Commission Clerk at Commission.Clerk@oglmc.ohio.gov and include the following statement in your email subject line: “Public Comments on Nomination #: 23-DNR-0008.”


Salt Fork State Park – DUE JULY 20

The state announced that the oil and gas industry has nominated Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park, for leasing and fracking. That is why we are asking you to tell the Land Management Commission to DENY industry nominations to lease Salt Fork.

TAKE ACTION:

Please feel free to use this example comment from a concerned Ohioan as a guide along with OEC’s example comment to help craft your own comment. We have pulled together science and data to help the public make the case for protecting the places we love. However, your comment can include as much or as little data as you want. Share why Salt Fork matters to you!

Because of the huge impact this decision will have for Ohio’s largest state park and for all state public lands, we are asking you to submit your own comment. Comments from individual Ohioans that showcase why Salt Fork State Park matters to YOU are an especially persuasive way to impact the committee’s decision. 

Please email your public comment to the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission at Commission.Clerk@oglmc.ohio.gov and include the following statement in your email subject line: “Public Comments on Salt Fork, Nomination #: 23-DNR-0005, 0006, 0007.”