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Shale Gas Monitoring

The DCNR Bureau of Forestry's Marcellus Monitoring Program is an interdisciplinary team designed to assess and communicate the environmental and social effects of natural gas development on state forest lands.

With an estimated 10,000 natural gas wells to be drilled on state forest in the next decade, Marcellus Shale development has the potential to affect a wide range of environmental and social values, including:

  • Soil and water resources
  • Plant and animal habitats
  • Recreation and aesthetics
  • Air quality

Environmental effects include:

  • Forest and habitat loss
  • Soil erosion
  • Increased fragmentation
  • Movement of invasive species, including plants, insects, and diseases

Social effects include:

  • Changes to the forest’s wild character
  • Public safety concerns
  • Increased noise
  • Recreation user conflicts
  • Forest infrastructure condition
  • Impacts to local communities

In addition to these impacts, this effort will also document and communicate the benefits of oil and gas development.

A comprehensive and systematic program to track, detect, and report on these impacts is critical for the continued sustainable management of the state forest system. Understanding the effects of Marcellus shale development will aid in the development of improved policies, guidelines, and best management practices.

Based on existing programs, the DCNR has developed a three-tiered approach for implementing this new endeavor:

  • On-the-ground field management
  • Research and external partner collaboration
  • Integrated team of staff