The commonwealth's open records office has granted, in part, requests for the state to disclose drilling information for the so-called Clarence Moore lands of Loyalsock State Forest in northern Pennsylvania.
The lands in question have "a unique and complex mix of ownership and rights," the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said this summer after meeting with concerned conservation groups.
Legal analysis indicates DCNR can't prohibit surface access on about 7,000 acres but can strongly influence, but not prohibit, subsurface owner access on about 18,000 acres, the agency stated in July.
Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, or PennFuture, was denied by DCNR maps and development plans of a company that wants to tap natural gas under Clarence Moore lands.
The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records told DCNR, which oversees the state forest system, to make disclosures about Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s plans — but without information deemed confidential or proprietary.
Any party may appeal, according to the office's decision.
PennFuture said DCNR can exert surface control over the majority of the Clarence Moore lands and drilling plans should be brought to light.
The organization and others in a coalition have been pushing for meaningful public notice and input about the lands, which include the Rock Run watershed, Old Loggers Path and important bird areas, according to PennFuture.
"After all, the state is simply the steward of these lands on behalf of all Pennsylvanians and future generations," said Jim Abernathy, interim PennFuture president and CEO, in the statement. "It's their land and they have a right to know."