Wildlife area becomes site for gas drilling

JACKSONBURG, W.Va. (AP) — The Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area in Wetzel County has become home to more than deer and other critters.

Several energy companies have moved into Lewis Wetzel to drill for natural gas.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources owns the surface land. But the DNR owns mineral rights to only 400 acres in the 13,590-acre wildlife area. Private individuals own the remaining mineral rights. Some are leasing their mineral rights to energy companies.

DNR District 1 biologist Steven Rauch tells The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register that mineral owners have a legal right to retrieve their minerals from the land.

Rauch says the DNR is working with the companies to minimize the impact of drilling. He says Lewis Wetzel is popular and the state wants to preserve it.