The National Wild Turkey Federation, Range Resources Corporation, NiSource Midstream LLC (a division of Columbia Gas) and the Washington County Planning Commission recently completed a wildlife habitat enhancement project planned earlier this year. Range Resources has successfully drilled more than 30 Marcellus shale wells under Cross Creek County Park. Last year Range reclaimed one of its earlier Marcellus well locations and hoped to create an attractive wildlife habitat in the process. Restoration work was planned by NWTF biologists and Range Resources personnel in the early spring and was covered through a donation from Range Resources made to the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Cross Creek County Park is open to hunting and is a popular destination for local hunters. Range Resources is committed to environmental stewardship which is why they repurposed two plots making up 33 acres that were partially used for natural gas development and had a small amount of surface disturbance.
“Our philosophy at Range is straightforward: to be good stewards for our shareholders, while doing the same thing for the environment and the communities where we live and work. We are proud to continue to enhance the public park in our community, which is home to more than 30 Marcellus wells that have generated millions of dollars for Washington County.” Said John Applegath, Range Resources Sr. Vice President – Southern Marcellus Shale Division.
The land was transformed from a weedy field to a planting that would attract wildlife for park visitors to enjoy. An herbicide application set the stage by eliminating invasive plants and undesirable weeds from the two locations. Lime and fertilizer applications began to prepare the site for planting in July. Brush hogging, plowing and disking were the final stages of site preparation and planting took place in September.
Local contractors were hired to conduct various stages the work, including one contractor whose business was close to the park who did final disking and planting. Costs for the restoration work ran a bit higher than expected. NiSource Midstream LLC another company associated with the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania assisted with a contribution that allowed the project to be completed on schedule. The result is 33 acres of a mix of clovers and a nurse crop of oats, which is a very attractive mix to deer and wild turkeys. By early October the site was greening up and in pristine condition. Deer, wild turkeys, along with other wildlife will utilize the project area for fall food sources, some winter forage and spring feeding. In the summer the fields will attract wild turkey broods and deer with fawns as they enjoy the high quality clover forage and turkey poults feed on insects associated with the legumes.
The Cross Creek County Park project exemplifies the positive impacts can be accomplished when public, private industry and conservation groups work together to enhance the community and environment. This project has improved the park, the wildlife and Pennsylvania.