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The Many Benefits of Energy Development on Forest Service Lands

Posted by Carmel Walters, Minerals and Geology Management, USDA Forest Service in Forestry Energy
May 21, 2018
Coal mine reclamation on National Forest System lands on the Wayne National Forest in Ohio
Coal mine reclamation on National Forest System lands on the Wayne National Forest in Ohio. Photo credit: USDA Forest Service

When you think of energy and mineral production, you don’t normally think about the USDA Forest Service. Green mountainsides, birch tree canopies, or pine-lined roadways may come to mind.

But, underneath those forests and grasslands lies a wealth of energy and mineral resources.

These mineral and energy resources fuel your car, heat your home, and produce the things you use every day.

Things like the phone in your pocket.

Aluminum alloys in casings, and lithium cobalt oxide and carbon graphite in batteries. Gold, copper, and silver in wiring, and platinum and tungsten in the circuitry. Iron, boron, and other rare minerals in the magnets, speakers, and motors. Some even make the glass more durable.

The benefits of these operations to the American people go beyond getting the raw materials needed for modern life. The mineral and energy resources produced from lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service contributed $3.6 billion to the nation’s economy in fiscal year 2016.

This economic contribution means millions of American jobs in the oil and natural gas industries, and many more as a result of leases on these lands.

When leases are awarded, the leasee then pays royalties on the resource they produce on that lease. For each dollar paid in royalties, half goes to the state where the lease is located; the agency receives the balance.

These approximately 7,000 leases over five million acres generated nearly $600 million in revenue in fiscal year 2016.

Much of the time, mineral or energy extraction results in disturbance on the surface. However, the Forest Service and other federal and state agencies constantly monitor the land’s condition throughout operations to ensure that once operations are complete, the operator can return the land to its previous natural state—a legal requirement.

So, even as we take part in producing the things that we all need, those green mountainsides, birch canopies, flowing brooks, and tree-lined roadways will, in time, be again as they once were.

Reclaimed lands after surface mining on the Thunder Basin National Grasslands
Reclaimed lands after surface mining on the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. Photo credit: USDA Forest Service
Category/Topic: Forestry Energy

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Comments

David Jackson Ingraham
May 21, 2018

Very glad to see a member of the US forest Service express strong support for the other uses of our nations National Forest other than recreational and restricted use. That was the original purpose of multiple use directive at the Founding of the US Forest Service. So please continue to under stand the multiple use need for our public lands for the benefit to man kind.

Linda White
May 21, 2018

“So, even as we take part in producing the things that we all need, those green mountainsides, birch canopies, flowing brooks, and tree-lined roadways will, in time, be again as they once were”. Perhaps in 100 years, but not for me or my family to continue to enjoy as the green mountainsides, birch canopies, flowing brooks and trees.......... As someone who has spent many hours enjoying our public lands, I have seen the devastation from energy extraction——past and present.
Recreational use of NFS Public Lands benefits everyone. Energy extraction (destroying the mountains, prairies) lines the pockets of a few, who just exploit public lands and move on to another site. There are plenty of areas that are not within the public domain that can be used for energy extraction.

How about protection and preservation for future generations to enjoy and learn to appreciate the natural world.

Sheila Cloudcroft
Jun 23, 2018

Knowing 3 things would be helpful.

Who it is.
What it is.
Where it is.

Pictures showing before, during, after would be helpful.

Donna A Der
Sep 13, 2018

I am strongly against the use of protected park land for mining lumber etc. These lands are protected for a reason. I do not believe it can be done without permanent damage. It is your job to protect these lands for future generations. No monetary value is worth harming these natural protected lands..Do your job!

Samantha Post
Jan 18, 2019

This is not what protecting lands looks like.
Selling out our forests, no matter how you package it, is not protecting them.