How will the ‘great gas rush’ change our area?

A few weeks ago the subject of this column was about the growing deer density-related problems in many areas of the state, particularly the Southern Zone. As noted in that column, the problem was less about the growing densities of deer in these areas, but actually the habitat changes that are creating it. Now we may add another factor to that phenomenon – natural gas leases.

With the sudden and ongoing boom in companies eager to get in on the mammoth Marcellus and Herkimer gas-bearing shale layers in much of the western, central and southern parts of the state, coupled with a depressed economy in many of these areas, major changes in land ownership and philosophies are undergoing changes that may affect many of us.

Most obvious is the perceived sale value of major portions of land that potentially may attract lucrative gas lease, right-of-ways and royalties. Unused farmland values have and are soaring because of it. The extensive coverage of the Marcellus Shale makes large land deals more attractive to gas drilling companies, despite the proposed NYSDEC 40-acre minimum size area between wells. With prices per acre for the more desirable plots now in the thousands of dollars, even landowners who have yet to contract a lease with gas companies have a bright orange carrot to dangle in front of potential buyers of their land speculating on eventually getting in on the monies flowing from gas companies.

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