by Jeremy Moule
The comment period for the state's Hemlock-Canadice forest management plan ended Monday. Now it's up to Department of Environmental Conservation officials to respond.
The DEC received more than 400 comments on the management plan for the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. Hemlock and Canadice are the only two Finger Lakes with undeveloped shorelines: a distinction they hold because the city uses them for its drinking water supply. The city bought up land along the shores starting in 1896, and sold it to the state in 2010 for permanent preservation.
But the management plan has brought scrutiny from environmentalists, lake users, and water consumers because of its language about gas and oil drilling. The draft plan doesn't directly state that drilling won't be permitted on the land, but rather suggests that it won't. Of the 400 comments the DEC received, the majority were about gas and oil drilling, says regional DEC spokesperson Linda Vera. She says that many of the comments were form letters. On Monday, anti-fracking activists rallied outside of the DEC's offices in Avon to urge changes to the plan.
The comments to the draft plan will be considered as the DEC develops the final unit management plan.
"The final UMP will clarify that the state has no intention of allowing any sort of drilling in the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest," Vera says.