Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area Hit by Drilling &
Public News Service – WV
29 May 2012
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – People living near a state wildlife preserve
are complaining that it is being torn up by natural gas drilling
& fracking operations.
The state of West Virginia does not own the mineral rights for the
Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area, which is in Wetzel county.
Therefore, like a private landowner, the state has limited ability
to control activities by the three drilling companies operating on
12 large well-pads located in the game and hiking preserve.
Longtime Wetzel County resident Bill Hughes says he has repeatedly
complained about problems, including runaway erosion and heavy
truck traffic. “It’s a total embarrassment to the state to have
these things in their own back yard. Every resident, every
taxpayer in the state of West Virginia owns part of Lewis Wetzel.
I want my land taken care of better than this.”
State officials say they have the sites under investigation, and
inspectors are due there next week. Department of Environmental
Protection spokeswoman Kathy Cosco says her office is treating the
complaints the same way they would on any private land. Overall,
she says, state regulators have been slowed by the need to hire
more inspectors and put a new law signed late last year into
“We’ve had to play catch-up. Industry and the market changed
things quickly, and so quite frankly what you find is the
regulation side is playing catch-up to the industry.”
Hughes says one problem is the level of commotion, the traffic and
industrial activity, in what should be quiet wilderness.
“Dirt, noise, diesel fumes, disturbances. I’m sure the deer are
having a hard time finding a place that’s a little bit of peace
and quiet for them.”
He says one of the big well pads, with a number of individual
drilling rigs on it, has been plagued by massive erosion that has
filled a nearby creek with mud. “Tree roots and the trees just
slipped on down the hill, and rainfall over the past month or two
has cut another channel because the old existing creek bed is
buried — there’s probably four or five foot of mud.”
The drilling companies did not return calls requesting comment.