State Forest Resource Management Plan
and Two Faces of Our State Forest Lands
Pine Creek and State Forest from Gillespie Point above Blackwell
In the fall of 2015, DCNR's Bureau of Forestry published its Draft 2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan and asked for public comment. Public meetings were held throughout the state, and the initial comment deadline was extended from November 30, 2015, to January 31, 2016. To submit comment by this date, click here.
PEDF attorney John E. Childe prepared Comments on this Plan, which can be read in entirety by clicking here. The Comments are also summarized below.
Synopsis of PEDF's Comments on DCNR Bureau of Forestry's
2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan (SFRMP)
The PEDF State Forest Plan Comments were submitted by John E. Childe, Esq. on behalf of PEDF and the following supporting organizations: Keystone Trails Association, Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, Lycoming Audubon Society, Lycoming Creek Watershed Association, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group, Pine Creek Watershed Council, Pine Creek Preservation Association, and Responsible Drilling Alliance.
There are two main sections:
I. DCNR Constitutional, Statutory and Policy Mandates
II. PEDF Proposed Amendments to the State Forest Resource Management Plan
To read the Comments in entirety, please click here.
I. DCNR CONSTITUTIONAL, STATUTORY AND POLICY MANDATES
A. Article I § 27, Pennsylvania Constitution
1. Article I § 27 Creates an Enforceable Public Trust, per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Payne v. Kassab.
2. Article I § 27 Is a Right That Cannot Be Infringed Upon by the government of the Commonwealth, being that it is an inalienable right of the people under Article I and specifically protected by the provisions of Article I § 25.
3. The State Forest Is the Common Property of the People, and the people have legal ownership of their public natural resources.
4. State Forest Public Natural Resources Are Public Trust Assets, with the land, water, air, plants, animals, and subsurface minerals all part of the corpus of the public trust established by the Constitution. The SFRMP needs to clearly identify these resources as being part of the corpus of the public trust.
5. Article I § 27 Protection Extends to Future Generations, impacting immediate and long-term decisions about public natural resources.
6. Article I §27 Establishes the Commonwealth as Trustee, thereby defining and limiting the power of all branches of state government to the role of trustee of the public trust, and to do so as a fiduciary, the highest standard of duty implied by law.
7. Nature of DCNR’s Trustee Fiduciary Duties, recognized by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in Belden and Blake Corp. v. DCNR. Further documentation of trustee responsibilities cited in Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth, Lang v. Commonwealth, and Hamill’s Estate. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court also recognized the Commonwealth’s duties as trustee in PEDF v. Wolf, and the DCNR Secretary’s duties as trustee under the Conservation and Natural Resources Act (CNRA) and PEDF v. Wolf.
8. Duty to Conserve and Maintain Public Natural Resources is the obligation of DCNR. Black’s Law Dictionary defines conserve as “to save and protect from loss or damage,” and maintain as “to prevent a decline, to keep in an existing state or condition, to preserve, to provide for, to supply with what is needed to support or sustain.” DCNR, therefore, is obligated to save and protect our State Forests from loss or damage, not to diminish or degrade these public natural resources, and to preserve their core natural values so that the people’s rights to clean air, pure water, and the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of those forests are preserved.
B. Conservation and Natural Resources Act (CNRA)
1. DCNR Purpose and Mission under CNRA Section 101, which states that “Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are to be conserved and maintained for the use and benefit of all its citizens as guaranteed by Section 27 of Article I of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.” CNRA Section 101 contains additional supportive statements regarding the tourism and recreation industry, the forest products industry, the “quality of life of Pennsylvania’s citizens, and the economic well-being of the State” (as pertaining to the aforementioned industries), and mandating that DCNR carry out its duties consistent with Article I § 27.
2. Oil and Gas Leasing Authorized by CNRA Section 302(a)(6) is not a mandate to lease. It provides DCNR with the authority to lease when such leasing is consistent with both the limitations and protections under Article I § 27 and DCNR’s purpose and mission per the CNRA. But gas extraction by nature is in direct conflict with the purposes of Article I § 27 and the CNRA; therefore, DCNR cannot make the decision to lease without insuring that no degradation or diminishment of the public’s natural resources occurs and that the constitutional rights of the people are protected.
3. The Role of the 1955 Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act, which requires that all rents and royalties from oil and gas leases of Commonwealth State Forest land be placed in a special fund (the Oil and Gas Lease Fund) to be used exclusively for conservation, recreation, dams, and flood control. The CNRA ensured that DCNR would have the benefit of these funds when considering leasing and that any such leasing would be consistent with Article I § 27. The SFRMP must clearly state that no leasing of State Forest land for oil and gas extraction will take place without guaranteeing the use of the funds from such leasing to maintain, improve and preserve our State Parks, and to assure the long-term health and sustainability of our State Forests.
4. DCNR Sale of Timber for Lumber, Wood and Other Forest Products, a practice not inconsistent with the law to protect the land and resources of State Parks and State Forests. That is, DCNR can harvest timber provided that such harvesting can be done consistent with the principles of ecosystem management necessary to conserve and maintain the public natural resources of the State Forest.
C. DCNR Mission: 1995 Penn’s Woods - Sustaining Our Forests (PWSOF)
This document states: The mission of the Bureau of Forestry is to ensure the long-term health, viability and productivity of the Commonwealth’s forests and to conserve native plants. The Bureau of Forestry will accomplish this mission by managing State Forests under sound ecosystem management, to retain their wild character and maintain biological diversity while providing pure water, opportunities for low density recreation, habitats for forest plants and animals, sustained yields of quality timber, and environmentally sound utilization of mineral resources.
Industrial development is an anathema to this mission statement. The SFRMP must make this clear.
D. DCNR Oil and Gas Leasing in Compliance with Article I § 27, CNRA, and Penn’s Woods – Sustaining Our Forests
Prior to 2008, DCNR made environmentally sound decisions to lease State Forest land for oil and natural gas extraction only when the lease activities would not degrade or diminish the natural resources, and based these decisions on the specific consideration that DCNR would have the funds from both the leasing and sale of the gas and oil for the purpose of maintaining the natural resources, as well as for mitigating problems from past mineral extraction activities, and to otherwise improve and add to our public natural resources.
DCNR’s 2014 Shale Gas Monitoring Report shows that the rights of the people under Article I § 27 are being impacted by existing leases, that DCNR’s statutory duty to protect these rights is being threatened, and that the mission and policies in PWSOF are not being achieved.
II. PEDF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE STATE FOREST RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN
A. Amendments to the SFRMP Introduction
1. Inappropriate Focus on Economic Benefits, per the second paragraph in the Introduction, implying that our State Forests are primarily to be used for the economic benefit of private companies and the State government rather than the people of the Commonwealth. This is contrary to Article I § 27, the CNRA, and PWSOF.
PEDF recommends the following paragraph for replacement:
“Pennsylvania’s State Forests are public natural resources, and as such are part of the public trust established by Article I Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. This constitutional provision, passed overwhelming by the people of the Commonwealth in 1971, provides that the public natural resources are owned in common by all the people, including future generations. It further provides that the Commonwealth is required to act as trustee of those public natural resources, including our State Forests, with the specific mandate to conserve and maintain those forests for the benefit of all the people. DCNR, as the Commonwealth agency responsible for the administering our State Forests, is the fiduciary of this public trust, and must insure that the corpus of the trust, our State Forests, are not depleted, degraded or diminished. Article I Section 27 further mandates that the people have the right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. In carrying out its fiduciary duty to conserve and maintain the public natural resources of our State Forests, DCNR must protect these rights of the people in our State Forests.”
2. Inappropriate Focus on Multiple Use Management, a concept that was first articulated for our State Forests in 1970 and then superseded in 1971 with the passage of Article I § 27, which mandates that the public’s natural resources be conserved and maintained by the Commonwealth.
PEDF recommends the following paragraphs to replace the first two of the second page of the Introduction:
“In 1995, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) was created through the enactment of the Conservation and Natural Resources Act (Act 18 of 1995). The same year, DCNR adopted its strategic plan and statement of policy for management of our State Forests entitled Penn’s Woods-Sustaining Our Forests. As the short title of Act 18 and the name of the newly established Commonwealth agency articulate, DCNR was created to conserve our natural resources. That was made clear in the first provision of Act 18, which states: “Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are to be conserved and maintained for the use and benefit of all its citizens as guaranteed by section 27 of Article I of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.
DCNR sets forth its blueprint for the ecologically sound management of our State Forests in the future under the authority of Article I Section 27 and Act 18 in Penn's Woods-Sustaining Our Forests. DCNR establishes the following mission statement in its 1995 strategic plan:
The mission of the Bureau of Forestry is to ensure the long-term health, viability and productivity of the Commonwealth’s forests and to conserve native plants. The Bureau of Forestry will accomplish this mission by managing State Forests under sound ecosystem management, to retain their wild character and maintain biological diversity while providing pure water, opportunities for low density recreation, habitats for forest plants and animals, sustained yields of quality timber, and environmentally sound utilization of mineral resources.”
B. Amendments to the Purpose of the SFRMP
1. Need to Address Current Lease Impacts, as the State Forest is not remarkably healthy now, principally due to impacts from oil and gas extraction authorized by State Forest leases that will pose management challenges for DCNR for the next fifty years.
PEDF recommends replacing the first paragraph under Purpose of the State Forest Management Plan (except for the first sentence) with the following:
“Our state forest land is under unprecedented intrusion and conversion from natural forest to industrial development for the purpose of extracting natural gas and oil. Almost 700,000 acres of state forest land are currently under lease for extraction of natural gas. The new unconventional extraction process requires land use far beyond any previous extraction methods. Although only an estimated 16% of the anticipated development has occurred based on current extraction techniques, the forest has experienced significant impact through direct conversion and fragmentation of the core of the forest. The extent of the cumulative impacts from the total oil and gas development authorized by the existing leases is unknown. Such development could continue for 50 years or more. DCNR will need to engage in thorough and cutting edge research and monitoring to understand the total extent of the impacts. At the same time, the bureau has lost the use of all the funds from the existing oil and gas leases and sales that had previously been used to deal with the impacts from the leases, as well as to take care of other projects needed to conserve and maintain our state forests and parks.”
2. Need to Clarify the Role of the State Forest Plan in greater detail pertaining to issues and the role of management in dealing with those issues.
PEDF recommends replacing the third and fourth paragraphs of the Purpose section with the following:
“The first role of the plan is to clearly describe the status of the state forest as it is today, including delineation of the current impacts to the forest from industrial development for natural gas extraction, and other uses of the public natural resources of the forest; and the management challenges faced by the department and bureau as a result of insufficient funds and personnel. A clear statement of the status of our state forests today is necessary to provide a context and background for future management decisions. Equally important, the plan must provide the people of Pennsylvania with a clear picture of the health of their state forest public natural resources.
The second role of the plan is to provide a framework for conserving, maintaining and restoring the public natural resources of the forest. That framework begins with a summary of methods necessary to assess the impacts to the forests from its current and projected future uses through monitoring, evaluation, and research into new methods and technologies necessary to understand the impacts. The framework also provides a description of the actions necessary to avoid, minimize and mitigate future impacts to the forest and to restore public natural resources degraded by past actions.
C. Amendments to Planning Foundations
1. Legal Authority, as the SFRMP merely recites Article I § 27 without adequately describing its legal mandates.
PEDF recommends adding the following paragraph:
“Our state forests and parks are part of a public trust established by Article I Section 27. Act 18 designates DCNR as the Commonwealth agency responsible for these public trust assets with a fiduciary duty as a Commonwealth trustee to conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people. The management of our state forests must be guided by the purpose of the public trust. The benefits of our state forests must be conserved and maintained by insuring that the resources are not degraded, diminished or depleted; and that the people's right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the forest are protected.
2. Forest Sustainability, as the term sustainability in the SFRMP is wrongfully defined as a complex idea involving economic, environmental, and social factors, and must instead comply with DCNR’s constitutional duties under Article I § 27. Economic and social factors must not be characterized as co-equal with ecological/environmental factors in order to meet constitutional mandates.
PEDF recommends deleting the definition of Forest Sustainability as a complex idea involving economic, environmental, and social factors.
D. Amendments to Resource Management Conflicts
The SFRMP needs to state a clear authoritative basis for managers to use in managing resources, a basis that is founded in Article I § 27, the CNRA, and PWSOF.
PEDF recommends adding the following language to the Resource Conflict Statement:
“In cases where management goals may or will be in conflict, the resolution of the conflict must be based first on DCNR’s responsibility to administer the public trust requirements of Article I Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. For example, if leasing a tract of state forest land for oil and gas extraction conflicts with the duty to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, or esthetic values of that state forest tract, then DCNR cannot proceed with the leasing. Also, any management decision that would not achieve the ecosystem management standards defined in DCNR's 1995 strategic plan and policy statement, Penn’s Woods, Sustaining Our Forests, and described in this plan under Ecosystem and Landscape Management Considerations, as a result of negative impacts on the forest biodiversity, wildness, or plant and animal habitat, must be avoided.”
E. Amendments to Ecosystem and Landscape Management Considerations
The SFRMP well describes ecosystem management and its application to the threat of global warming upon the State Forest ecosystem, but it fails to deal similarly with the impacts and threats from leasing for oil and gas extraction.
PEDF recommends adding a subsection entitled Leasing of State Forest Land for Gas Extraction to the section on Ecosystem and Landscape Management Considerations, per the following paragraphs:
Leasing of State Forest Land for Gas Extraction
“Gas extraction requires industrial development that directly converts portions of the forest into well pads, compression stations, lined impoundments, gas pipelines, new and expanded roads, stream crossings, and other infrastructure development. This industrial development not only converts areas of the forest, it causes forest fragmentation, and cumulative impacts over the life of the leases to water resources, plant and animal habitat, forest soils, air resources, and other natural, scenic and esthetic resources of the forest. Of the 2.2 million acres of state forest in Pennsylvania, 1.5 million acres are underlain with significant natural gas deposits in several deep shale formations including the Marcellus, Burket and Genesco black shales, and the Utica. Currently, 675,000 acres or 44% of this 1.5 million acres of state forest land is under lease for unconventional natural extraction from these deposits. DCNR manages the oil and gas lease on 386,000 acres of state forest. Of that acreage, 139,000 acres are under new leases updated to address unconventional gas development, and the remaining 247,000 acres are managed under older oil and gas leases that do not contain the updated provisions. The other 287,000 acres of state forest land subject to development are under private leases, where the mineral rights are privately owned. DCNR generally has limited, if any, control over the surface use of the state forest lands under those leases.
In 2008, DCNR decided to not issue any further leases until studies could be completed and monitoring data collected to determine the impacts of the new unconventional gas development. However, by legislative acts in 2009 and 2010, DCNR was required to lease an additional 65,000 acres for the purpose of generating money for the General Fund.
In 2014, DCNR published the Shale Gas Monitoring Report based on preliminary data collected in 2012. DCNR estimated that 3,000 unconventional gas wells will be drilled on the state forest to develop the leased areas. As of 2013, 973 wells were drilled on a total of 226 well pads. Over 8,000 wells have been drilled in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania, with many of those wells located adjacent to state forest land. DCNR established a monitoring program to evaluate the impacts from the existing state forest leased areas and reported on known and potential impacts to water, wildlife, plants, invasive species, compliance incidents, air, land use, soils, revenue, recreation, local communities, forest health, timber products, and infrastructure.”
Developing Management Strategies for Gas Extraction Impacts
(Summarize date results obtained for each area in a chart similar to chart at page 18 of the SFRMP, and summarize the goals and management strategies for gas extraction impacts.)
F. Amendments Related to DCNR’s Need for Oil and Gas Lease Funds
DCNR has lost the use of all royalty money from the current leases, funds that are needed for dealing with 1) the impacts of that leasing, 2) the impacts of abandoned oil and gas wells and coal operations, 3) the backlog of existing infrastructure projects, and 4) the need to acquire subsurface mineral rights beneath sensitive natural resources.
PEDF recommends adding the following paragraphs to the SFRMP:
Impacts from Loss of Oil and Gas Lease Funds Since 2008
“Since the passage of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act in 1955, all funds from the lease and sale of natural gas on state forest land have been deposited into a special fund named the Oil and Gas Lease Fund. All the money from this fund is required by this act to be used exclusively for conservation, recreation, dam and flood control projects, and for the purchase of addition land for those purposes.
From 2008 to 2010, DCNR held three separate oil and gas lease sales targeted at unconventional shale gas development that resulted in the leasing of approximately 139,000 acres of state forest land. The leases resulted in initial rental payments of approximately $413 million dollars. Through Appropriation Acts and amendments to the Fiscal Code, $383 million was transferred to the General Fund to pay for general government spending. The General Assembly also removed DCNR's ability to use royalty payments from existing state forest leases for projects on State Parks and Forests through a Fiscal Code amendment and now requires annual appropriation of these funds by the General Assembly.
The loss of the ability to use the Oil and Gas Lease Fund for State Park and Forest projects has left DCNR without adequate funding to meet its constitutional and statutory mandates to conserve and maintain the public natural resources of the State Parks and Forests.
(Develop a chart on each of the areas the Oil and Gas Lease Funds are needed, including:
- Infrastructure project backlogs, i.e, repair and replacement of dams, identifying and plugging abandoned oil wells, reclaiming abandoned coal mine land and treating acid mine discharges, etc.;
- Protection from surface impacts on severed rights State Forest and Park lands;
- Eminent domain to require surface use agreements; mitigation through land purchases;
- Immediate and long term studies and evaluations to minimize and mitigate surface impacts;
- Further development of conservation landscape initiatives.)
G. Amendments to Wild Character
PEDF recommends including the following statement at the beginning of the SFRMP section on Wild Character:
“DCNR has the duty to conserve and maintain the wildness or the wild character of our state forests under Article I Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. By protecting the wild character of the state forest, DCNR ensures that the people's constitutional right ‘to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values’ of the state forest is achieved. Each of these values should be defined based on the scientific principles of ecosystem management. For instance, in order to preserve the natural, scenic and esthetic values of the state forest, DCNR must design the state forest road system that provides a level of public access appropriate to ensure protection of sensitive natural resources such as old growth forests, habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species, and geologic features such as waterfalls, rock outcrops, and scenic overlooks.”
H. Amendments to Recreation
PEDF recommends the following statement at the beginning of the SFRMP section on Recreation:
“While DCNR’s mission includes managing the state forests for public recreation, DCNR must provide for recreation consistent with its constitutional duty to conserve and maintain the public natural resources of the state forest. DCNR accomplishes this mandate by providing for low density recreation that allows people to enjoy the clean air, pure water and natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the state forests without diminishing the forests’ wildness, natural habitat for plants and animals, or its water, air, soil and geologic resources under the scientific principles of ecosystem management.”
I. Amendments to Land Inventories, Delineations, Classifications, and Designations
DCNR’s inventory, delineation, designation and classification of state lands for commercial activities such as harvesting timber or mineral extraction can only be successfully authorized consistent with its fiduciary duties as trustee under Article I § 27.
At a minimum, PEDF recommends adding the following statement to the beginning of this section of the SFRMP:
“As a trustee of the public natural resources of the state forests under Article I § 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, DCNR must conduct inventories, delineations, classifications and designations of state forest land consistent with its duty to conserve and maintain the people’s right to the clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the state forest.”
J. Amendment to Timber Sale Planning
The SFRMP must clearly state that commercial timber sales will be planned consistent with DCNR’s duties under Article I § 27.
At a minimum, PEDF recommends adding the following sentence to the section of the SFRMP on Timber Sale Planning:
“When planning for timber sales, DCNR must evaluate the potential impact on the public natural resources of the state forest to comply with its duties under Article I Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. To avoid any diminution, depletion or degradation of the public natural resources of the state forest, DCNR must plan timber sales in a manner that protects the clean air and pure water of the state forests, and preserves their natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values.”
K. Amendments to Timber and Forest Products
The statement in the SFRMP (page 60) that one of the purposes of the CNRA is “to provide a continuous supply of timber, lumber, wood and other forest products . . .” is incorrect and should be deleted. This language has been carried forward from prior legislation, pertains to rulemaking authority of the Environmental Quality Board, and is not a mandate for timber harvesting. CNRA’s purpose is stated in Section 101 as previously discussed. The Timber and Forest Products section must be read in light of the provisions of Article I § 27, by DCNR as a cabinet-level agency applying the scientific principles of ecosystem management (PWSOF).
PEDF recommends adding the following statement to the SFRMP in the Timber and Forest Products section:
“The trees of the state forests are the renewable natural resource central to the ecological health and sustainability of these public lands. Prior to the sale of any trees from the state forest for timber or other forest products, DCNR must assess the potential impact of the sale on the Commonwealth's trustee duties under Article I Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Specifically, DCNR has the fiduciary duty to ensure that the sale will not result in the degradation, diminution or depletion of the public natural resources of the state forest, including the clean air and pure waters of the state forest, and its natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values. DCNR will assess the impacts of proposed timber harvesting using the principles of ecosystem management described in its strategic plan and statement of policy for the management of the state forest, Penn's Woods – Sustaining Our Forest."
L. Amendment to Geologic Resource Extraction
The statement on page 130 of the SFRMP that “The economic use and sound extraction and utilization of geologic resources (e.g., oil and gas) is part of the bureau’s mission in managing these (State Forest) lands” should be deleted because it is not part of the mission of DCNR or the bureau. The authority to lease is not an agency mission and can only occur when such extraction can be undertaken consistent with the Commonwealth’s duties under Article I § 27. The SFRMP should reflect the realities of the impacts of leasing, identify the source of funds necessary to deal with those impacts, and clearly outline how DCNR can and will consider being able to enter into any additional State Forest leases for gas extraction.
PEDF recommends that the first paragraph of the Geologic Resource Extraction section be deleted and the following language added:
“Currently, Executive Order 2015-03 prohibits DCNR from entering into further leases of state forest land for oil and gas extraction. DCNR made the decision not to enter into any additional oil and gas leases in early 2009 based on the existing acreage of state forest land subject to the new unconventional gas extraction activities. After DCNR executed the oil and gas leases for the additional 74,000 acres of state forest land offered in the 2008 lease sale, DCNR realized that over 600,000 acres of state forest land would be open for unconventional natural gas extraction. With the growing awareness of the significant impacts to the surface of the land from unconventional drilling, DCNR recognized a very real threat to the integrity of the ecological values of the state forest.
In 2009-2010, DCNR began a major effort to understand the impacts to the state forest from unconventional natural gas development by seeking approval to hire additional staff to study, identify and monitor the existing and potential impacts. In 2014, DCNR issued a detailed report, the Shale-Gas Monitoring Report, which provided preliminary data on the extent of the impacts from unconventional natural gas development on the state forest. These monitoring and evaluation activities are continuing. As of the date of the 2014 report, DCNR estimated that only 16% of the potential development under the existing oil and gas leases had occurred.
Although DCNR planned to use the rents and royalties from the state forest oil and gas leases to continue to fund conservation and recreation projects on the state forests and parks as it had done since 1955, including funding of its shale gas monitoring project, DCNR lost control over all the these funds in 2009 when the General Assembly amended the Fiscal Code.
Based on the Commonwealth's duty as trustee of the state forests and parks under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, DCNR cannot recommend that Executive Order 2015-03 be modified to allow any new leasing of state forest land for oil and gas extraction until it evaluates the cumulative impacts from the existing leases and determines the measures necessary to restore the state forests and parks from those impacts. DCNR must also evaluate the consequences of the loss of the revenue from the oil and gas leasing for conservation and recreation projects necessary to restore and enhance the state forests and parks to mitigate impacts from leasing. Such projects are essential to achieve the Commonwealth's constitutional mandate to conserve and maintain the public natural resources of the state forest and parks for the people, including future generations, as well as the mandate to protect the people's right to the clean air and pure water of their state forests and parks, and their right to the preservation of their natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values.”