STATE GAME LAND 59, Pa. — For those who have ever stalked deer, turkey and bear here in “God’s Country” in north central Pennsylvania, this hunting season is like no other.God's Country? Yeah, that's the way the folk talk out there in State Game Land 59, Pennsylvania.
For one thing, it is louder. The soundtrack of birds chirping, thorns scraping against a hunter’s brush pants and twigs crunching underfoot is now accompanied by the dull roar of compressor stations and the chugging of big trucks up these hills.This sounds like one of those NPR reports with a soft-voiced radioman crunching through the leaves.
The Marcellus Shale, a vast reserve of natural gas lies beneath some of this state’s most prized game lands. And now, more and more drills are piercing the hunting grounds. Nine wells have cropped up on this one game land of roughly 7,000 wooded acres in Potter County, and permits have been issued for 19 more.7,000 wooded acres! Oh my gosh! That's half the size of Manhattan! Before long, what will be left of Pennsylvania?
An old dirt road that meandered up a ridge here has been widened and fortified. Acres of aspen, maple and cherry trees have been cut. In their place is an industrial encampment of rigs, pipes and water-storage ponds, all to support the extraction of natural gas through the process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.Acres of the most beautiful possible trees that people in NYC are capable of picturing. Aspen! Maple! Cherry! Replaced by — God help us! — industrial equipment! Oh, noooo! We had our heart set on thinking about you Pennsylvania rural types as rust-belters.
Remember Barack Obama, campaigning for President, back in 2008? He said, speaking to elites in San Francisco:
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."Somehow these communities are gonna regenerate... and now, they are regenerating. They've got a fabulous boom in the works. But the NYT would like us to think that the boom is mussing up the old hunting grounds? There's machinery grinding and clanking making it harder to hear the crunch of fallen leaves!
“Who wants to go into their deer stand in the predawn darkness and listen to a compressor station?” lamented Bob Volkmar, 63, an environmental scientist who went grouse hunting the other day through these noisy autumnal woods. “It kind of ruins the experience.”Volkmar is a hunter, yes, but he's also an an environmental scientist. That is, he's got a pretty sweet job. What does the average Pennsylvania hunter think? Isn't he stoked about the economic development and the potential for good jobs for lots of Pennsylvanians? And doesn't he know plenty of alternative hunting grounds?