March 13, 2009
Elizabeth Maclin (202) 431-2676
Erin Mooney (571) 331-7970
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Trout Unlimited Supports Bureau of Land Management Decision to Drop Monongahela National Forest from Oil and Gas Lease Auction
ARLINGTON, VA—Trout Unlimited (TU) supports the decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove West Virginias Monongahela National Forest from its planned oil and gas lease auction on March 19 in order to review the protests from the proposed lease sale.
The Monongahela is one of the last remaining strongholds for native Eastern brook trout, and their survival and viability is directly related to minimizing habitat impacts to the lowest level possible, said Elizabeth Maclin, TUs Vice President for Eastern Conservation.
We simply cannot risk subjecting these remaining sensitive trout populations to land management plans that have not been held to the highest levels of scrutiny, and this proposed lease simply did not pass muster, Maclin said. The BLM should go a step further and permanently remove it from consideration.
The unique characteristics of the watersheds on the Forest are a significant part of West Virginias heritage, and must be preserved for future generations, said Randy Kesling, President of the Mountaineer Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
This is a wise conservation decision, Kesling continued. The proposed auction parcels are located within crucial fisheries and wildlife habitats that are of high value to anglers, hunters and to the state of West Virginia.
Approximately 2,300 acres of the Monongahela National Forest were slated for auction.
Trout Unlimited contends that the BLM and U.S. Forest Service did not complete a thorough analysis of the stream impacts, land use and groundwater impacts and effects on air quality that can occur from drilling within the proposed parcels in the Monongahela.
Trout Unlimited is the nations largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members.