HOW WE GOT STARTED AS A VOLUNTEER GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE ……..

The idea for the program came about as result of collaboration between concerned landowners who have been adversely affected by Marcellus shale drilling on or near their properties. As the
industry moved into north central WV to begin drilling Marcellus wells, many landowners soon began to realize that this type of drilling was far different from the “conventional” shallow vertical gas wells that have been drilled in rural communities in WV for more than 100 years.

In many cases, the drilling industry uses mineral leases that were negotiated decades ago that are still in effect because of wording in leases that make them perpetual. Some are leases that were negotiated and signed by farmers more than fifty or even a hundred years ago (when drilling was done by horse drawn drilling rigs.) These same leases are often used to legally drill the more invasive, huge Marcellus well pads that take out five to eight or more acres of a person’s surface land. The “reasonable access” extraction methods used to reach the minerals below a landowner’s surface land has changed dramatically over the decades now that shale gas drilling is in the picture. In WV, legislation favors the rights of mineral ownership under the land over that of the rights of the surface owner who actually lives on the land.

In WV, more often than not, surface rights and mineral rights were severed and separated on land deeds in West Virginia many decades ago. This was done when the big coal, lumber, oil and gas companies moved through WV buying or leasing all the mineral rights under the surface land.

This means that those who own only the surface rights on their land deeds have little or no say as to whether or not a drilling company will put a Marcellus well on their property. Yet when it happens, the landowner’s environment and quality of life are changed forever. Landowners are relatively powerless when it comes to protecting their land from unwanted drilling on their farms. However, one power the landowners do still have is the power to invite.

Realizing that notion, is what lead to the idea for the WV Host Farms Program. We invite environmental researchers, journalists, environmental groups and others to come see shale gas extraction right on the properties where it is taking place. Landowners in WV who volunteer for the WV Host Farms initiative desire to promote research and awareness of the environmental and health impacts of Marcellus drilling and fracking.

We have landowners networked in fourteen different counties in WV where drilling is most active. They are willing to open their homes and farms near these drilling activities, so that environmental researchers and journalists can get in and study the impacts right at “ground zero.” We want to ensure that we protect our drinking water supply, our health and safety, land and animals, and our communities.

We do not charge a fee for the access we provide, though we welcome any support from those who appreciate what our program is doing.

Please support our efforts with a small donation to help with our costs of administering this volunteer initiative. Even $5 or $10 will help greatly toward postage costs, mileage reimbursements, and other administrative expenses incurred as result of operating a grass roots initiative such as WV Host Farms.

Checks should be made payable to “WVLA, Inc – WV Host Farms Program” and mailed to the above address. Or you can send your donation online using the payment button on the right. Thank you very much for your support of our efforts!

Volunteer Advisory Panel

Tom Bond, Retired Educator, WV Farmer
Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry, Kent State University

Yuri Gorby, Assoc. Professor –
Blitman Chair in Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Ph.D., Microbiology, University of New Hampshire

Mike Manypenny, West Virginia State Delegate
Agricultural/Environmental Consultant
B.S. Agriculture & Forestry, West Virginia University

Diane L. Pitcock, WV Host Farms Program Administrator
M.S., C.A.G.S., Adult & Community Educ., Johns Hopkins University