We chose this spot to highlight the all too common practice on the Allegheny National Forest of cutting trees and replacing them with oil wells! The Allegheny National Forest has more oil wells than ALL the other national forests in the country COMBINED! Oil drilling has increased 500% since 2003 and if this trend continues, many more areas that provide high-quality recreation opportunities will be lost.
We witnessed a section of what WAS a very old and famous national hiking trail, the "North Country National Scenic Trail," that for about a half mile was turned into a "shared usage" road! Who let an oil drilling company turn a well established national scenic hiking trail into a muddy rutted roadway? We witnessed recent evidence the trail was used by trucks, four-wheelers, logging skidders, and dirt bikes. We found everything but footprints!
The hike started a little later than schedualed, but some of us got to "network" and discuss many environmental issues. Bill B from the Allegheny Defence Project gave many short but informative lectures. I got to meet some "environmental allies" I've been wanting to meet for a while.
The hike was a constant, but slow uphill climb. We hiked to the top of the ridge about 650 feet above where we left the cars.
The road is marked 261, and near the top it joins with a "shared use" snow-mobile trail (#1) and then, around a bend, the NCT crosses and takes off from the snowmobile trail.
Ironically enough, we had our lunch break at an oil well head clearing! During the lunch we broke into three smaller groups for chatting.
The hike out was all downhill, but I have been deathly sick for two days beforehand and it made the hike back out seem three times longer!
All in all we might have hiked 6 or 7 miles.
I want to thank everybody who did come out and partisipate and you can go to the Step It Up '07 site to view more of this story!
Bill B from the Allegheny Defense Project giving the first of many educational lectures. This one near some old abandon or "left behind" remnants of an oil operation
Somebody made use of the area as a dump for household debris
One of the first unfurling of the banners
Here is a very wide intersection leading to an oil well site
Does the road really need to be this wide and obtrusive?
More abandon "souvenirs" from oil days past
While hiking we broke into smaller groups who talked about various issues
Another place to display our banners!
Here is the start of the "widened" section of the North Country Scenic Trail- What WAS previously a foot trail!
Beyond this marked tree is what the trail USED to look like ....
... And this is what is has been "modified" to!
Some parts were barely hikable
Another place to display our banners!
We found a spot wide enough and not quite so muddy
The banners say it all
This is what we are here for
I'm not sure you can call this mud pit a hiking trail. Maybe before the trucks, four-wheelers, dirt bikes and log skidders used this "foot travel only" hiking trail you could enjoy hiking it.
The coordinates for this spot on the NORTH COUNTRY SCENIC TRAIL is N 41 13.496 W 079 26.377
Cathy P went in the deepest
We all had to bypass most of the trail
Lot's of trees were removed! Do you think the offenders will be fined $500.00 per tree? Do you think they will be fined at all?
Who got muddier?
Cathy hurts for the tree
Here a skidder went "off trail". For what reason? Who knows?
A split in the trail. The trail to the right is what this section should look like
Kathy H from the Olean Area Hiking Group
A feeble attempt perhaps to discourage trucks, skidders, four wheelers and dirt bikes? They just went around or over this!
"Foot travel"? That is a joke! Maybe the sign should read "Foot travel and any other motorized vehicle you feel like using here"!
Here is what happens to foot travelers on this hiking trail.
Another wide spot to display our banners
A view very close to the NCT shows how obtrusive the many new oil roads are.
Oh, here comes an illegal trail user now. No, we are not on the NCT any more, but on a "regular" "closed to motorized use" forest road. This guy had a very small child on the front, perhaps his son .....
..... Taking off at a high rate of speed hoping we wouldn't photograph his licence plate no doubt ..... so here he is speeding way with a child on frot whipping around this blind turn so fast he slides into the "oncoming lane" ... Thank god for both of them no logging or oil truck was coming in the oppisite direction. What does Jim call this? Natural selection? I call it "red-necking to death"! Did he escape in time? ......
.....Nope! 6487W ! Busted! Or maybe the ANF people don't really care!
Here this drain from a culvert is filled with the residue of yellow-orange mud. Luckily, it hasn't rained enough to wash it down into the creeks and reservoir downstream
Here is a four wheeler bypass around a locked gate ....
... And passed the signs that say "no motorized vehicles".
Just ONE MORE large rock would take care of this problem ..... Or the handing out of some tickets!
I won't even mention the obvious creek damage the four-wheelers are doing ...
Cathy with the Allegheny College students posing near the parking area