Part 2. Fracking In and Around Ohio State Parks Raises Many Concerns

by admin on August 1, 2023

The application is to frack 425 parcels in six townships of Guernsey County comprising all 20,000 acres of Salt Fork State Park with an unspecified number of frack pads in unknown locations

PART 2. Save Ohio Parks’ allies rally to fight against fracking
From the Article by Paul Becker, Martins Ferry Times Leader, July 5, 2023
LORE CITY, Ohio — Environmental groups across Ohio rallied Saturday, July 1st, at Salt Fork State Park to protest fracking under Ohio state parks forests, wildlife areas and other public lands. Salt Fork is the first park on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources list to be fracked by natural gas and oil developers.

Jess Grim of Third Act said Ohioans are going to wake up one day soon, decide to take a trip to one of the fabulous state parks in southeast Ohio, and be shocked by what they find. “They will find massive construction surrounding the park as operations get underway to frack our state parks and public lands,” Grim said. “People need to be made aware that this is happening now so they can join the fight to stop it.”

Dr. Joe Blanda of Cleveland, of Physicians for Social Responsibility, told the group he wonders if the death of his 17-year-old son in 2013 was connected to fracking. His son died of terminal brain cancer.

Blanda said he, his son and friends regularly spent long weekends biking, fishing and swimming at a friend’s place in Jefferson County. “In the evenings we would sit by a campfire and look out over the distant valley at four or five fracking pad flares,” he said. “In fact, there was a fracking pad on the neighboring property about a quarter of a mile away. I foolishly didn’t realize the danger. … After his diagnosis I quickly learned about all the environmental toxins associated with cancer and other medical conditions. I can’t stand here and claim that fracking toxins caused his death. But I do wonder, especially now that we have plenty of scientific research linking fracking to serious health conditions.”

Blanda said in 1970, one of 300 Americans were affected by cancer. Today that number is one out of three. “So why is the incidence of cancer one out of three today?” Blanda asked.” “What is different compared to 1970, when it was one out of 300? Our air, water and food are full of toxic chemicals. And we can thank the fossil fuel industry for a big part of that.”

He said a recent research study in Pennsylvania showed that children living within 1 mile of a fracking pad have a three times higher incidence of childhood cancer. “The minimum setback in Ohio is 100 feet,” he said, “not even close to a mile.”

Roxanne Groff, a longtime Athens County-based environmental activist and Save Ohio Parks co-founder, said after the event that she doubts Ohioans can be protected from the ill effects of fracking at Salt Fork.

“My question is, how do ODNR Director Mary Mertz and Gov. Mike DeWine intend to protect Salt Fork Lake from being contaminated by the proposed 89 wells to be drilled around the park?” she asked. “The lake is the only source of drinking water for the park and its visitors. The answer is, they cannot. The oil and gas industry and its lies and false promises lure our lawmakers into making the wrong decisions about how dangerous fracking really is. People need to stand up, fight the process and tell our leaders, ‘Hands off our lands!’”

Austin Warehime, a Cincinnati environmental attorney who grew up just outside Salt Fork State Park, said he understands why people might allow fracking on their private property. Fracking revenue allows some people to go on vacation for the first time in their lives or make property improvements that can help secure their farms for future generations.

“Eastern Ohio is the poorest region of Ohio,” he said. “The people here see fracking as economic opportunity, jobs, new restaurants, and financial stability. If we want to stop fracking in eastern Ohio, we must give eastern Ohio other opportunities that sets the region up for future success.”

Jenny Morgan of Columbus, singer, songwriter and founder of Leave No Child Inside Central Ohio Collaborative, a nonprofit encouraging young children to get out in nature, provided vocal entertainment.

“Research shows children need frequent time in nature for their healthy development,” Morgan said. “They need clean and safe parks for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It would be a crime, an absolute crime, to spoil our parks for this and future generations. We must do everything we can to save our parks from dirty and dangerous gas and oil drilling.”

“Ohio’s public lands enhance our quality of life,” added MollyJo Stanley, southeast Ohio regional director for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Salt Fork is Ohio’s largest state park and one of our state’s most important public lands. Despite the very real consequences fracking poses to the health of our environment, our climate, and our communities, the oil and gas industry is pushing to exploit the beloved state park for monetary profit. We must speak up now to protect Salt Fork.”

Aaron Dunbar from Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action said it’s time to hold our lawmakers accountable for the health and environmental damage fracking will inflict on Ohioans. “To quote the late, great labor organizer, singer, storyteller and poet Utah Philips,” he said, “‘The Earth is not dying. It is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.’ It’s imperative at this crucial juncture in history that we hold these individuals accountable for their crimes against nature and the human race and do everything in our power to avert this corporate plundering of everything that makes our lives worth living.”

The group was spirited, and an anti-fracking movement is just beginning to grow across Ohio, said Cathy Cowan Becker, co-founder of Save Ohio Parks. “We are up against the most powerful and profitable industry in human history, and it will take all of us to stop fracking at Salt Fork and our other 74 Ohio state parks,” she said.

The groups at the rally urge the public to write personal letters explaining why fracking should not be allowed at Salt Fork to the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission at:


ALERT — To learn more, visit the Save Ohio Parks website at:

Save Ohio Parks is an all volunteer group of Ohio citizens concerned about fracking in or near our state parks, forests, wildlife areas and other public lands. The people of Ohio pay for and use our public lands and we deserve a say in what happens to them.

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