Board Enables Agency Greater Flexibility to Purchase Land; Board Approves Items in Mercer, Washington and Luzerne; Board Approves Gas Lease on SGL 179; Board Approves Surface Mining Coal Lease on SGL 79

Jan 26, 2010, 13:51 ET from Pennsylvania Game Commission

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To enable Pennsylvania Game Commission staff to act expeditiously to acquire lands, waters, oil, gas and minerals rights, the Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to delegate certain powers to the agency's executive director.

"Tax sales or auctions often are announced between regular Board of Game Commissioner meetings and are to be held sooner than is practicable to hold a special meeting or notational vote," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "By approving this regulation today, the Board has granted staff the flexibility it needs to bid on real estate, oil, gas or mineral rights at auction, or tax sales, so that we can better protect our State Game Land system and the investment made in these lands by hunters and trappers."

Under the regulatory change, which must be approved by the Board at its April meeting before taking effect, the executive director must notify the Board of Commissioners of the pending auction sale date and verify that, due to unforeseen time constraints, it is necessary to be able to react immediately. The purchase price at auction may not exceed $500,000, without further additional approval from the majority of the Board of Commissioners, and successful bids must be made known to the general public at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

Additionally, no further action would be necessary on the part of the Board of Commissioners to hold settlement, pay the remainder of the purchase price or consummate the transaction.


The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved a land exchange with John and Beverly Rossi, involving a 1.216-acre piece of State Game Land 284 in Springfield Township, Mercer County.  The 1.216 acres are part of an abandoned railroad grade extending out from the main portion of SGL 289, which has historically been used for access into Rossi's property. In exchange for the 1.216 acres, the Rossis have agreed to transfer two tracts containing 0.62 acres and 0.416 acres in Springfield Township, Mercer County, adjoining SGL 284. The Game Commission shall retain an administrative right-of-way across the 1.216 acres being conveyed to the Rossis.

In consideration of the Game Commission conveying 0.18 acres more to the Rossis than the acreage the Game Commission is receiving, the Rossis have agreed to place $1,000 into an interest-bearing escrow account that is to be used solely for replacement of land and habitat. This land exchange will protect the right of access into the Rossi's property, consolidate disjointed acreage and straighten boundary lines between both landowners.

In separate action, the Board approved a land exchange with Pete E. Zappi, who is the current owner of property adjoining SGL 232, in Blaine and Donegal townships, Washington County.  Under the agreement, Zappi will convey three tracts of land to the Game Commission totaling 9.981 acres that will eliminate an indenture into SGL 232, protect riparian habitat and improve public access from Township Road 376. The two parcels being conveyed to Mr. Zappi total 5.158 acres. This land exchange will eliminate an encroachment on SGL 232 and straighten boundary lines between both landowners.

Lastly, the Board today accepted a donation from Albert and Amelia Fazzi of five acres of land in Laurel Run Borough, Luzerne County, adjoining State Game Land 292. The property is wooded and is a portion of an 8.05-acre tract owned by the Fazzis, who will retain a portion of the tract that includes a house, several outbuildings and a yard.


The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved an oil and gas lease with CNX Gas Company LLC, of Canonsburg, on a portion of State Game Land 179. The lease contains about 2,175.5 acres in Alleppo, Jackson and Gilmore townships, Greene County.  

CNX Gas currently owns oil, gas and coal rights on portions of SGL 179, and also controls a strong oil/gas lease position on private lands adjacent to SGL 179.  When developed, CNX's drilling on the land adjacent to SGL 179 will effectively withdraw portions of the Game Commission's oil/gas reserve. Game Commission staff has negotiated with CNX in an effort to safeguard the prudent development of the agency's oil/gas reserve and simultaneously protect the wildlife resources and recreational use of SGL 179.

In exchange for an oil/gas lease, CNX Gas will convey to the Game Commission a 2,300- acre tract of land known as the Jacksonville Property in Young Township, Indiana County. Upon transfer of this tract of land, the Game Commission will establish a new state game lands complex, State Game Land 332. The land has been assessed a value of $1,666,500.

The Game Commission has agreed to a seven-year lease with a three-year "drill or drop" clause. CNX also has agreed to pay rental for undeveloped acreage in years four through seven. The Game Commission and CNX Gas have agreed to a tiered royalty ranging from 16 percent to 21 percent, based on the well-head price per 1,000 cubic feet of gas produced and sold from each well.

CNX also will pay the Game Commission a well location or spud fee of $5,000 for each shallow well and $10,000 for each well targeting the Marcellus or deeper formations.

The proposed lease agreement also provides CNX gas with the right to utilize the surface of SGL 179 for pipelines to transport Game Commission-owned gas reserves. Further, CNX will provide 350,000 cubic feet of free gas annually for the agency's use with a payback clause for nonuse. CNX Gas will adhere to the reclamation and revegetation requirements as specified by the Game Commission's local Land Management Group Supervisor.

Oil/gas development will be regulated by the Commonwealth's oil and gas regulations and the agency's standard oil/gas lease agreement and $25,000 performance bond. The lease will include the Game Commission's standard wildlife and protection measures.


The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved a surface mine coal lease with Laurel Sand & Stone Inc., of Ligonier, to remove all of the available and economically recoverable coal within a 165-acre tract of State Game Land 79, Jackson Township, Cambria County.

Laurel Sand and Stone owns the coal under the proposed surface mine area and the Game Commission controls the surface rights. The proposed six-year lease will remove an estimated 460,200 tons of coal from a portion of SGL 79 and will utilize about 143 acres for actual mining an additional 22 acres for erosion and sedimentation controls, mine reclamation, and operational support.

In exchange for the surface mining lease, Laurel Sand & Stone will pay the Game Commission a royalty rate of six percent for each ton of coal mined and removed from the leased premises or $2 per ton, whichever is greater. The lease also will include a provision to remove sandstone from the site for which Laurel Sand & Stone will pay the Game Commission a royalty rate of $0.18 per ton or six percent, whichever the greater, for each and every ton of sandstone mined and removed from the premises.

Laurel Sand & Stone also has agreed to pay an initial advanced surface damage royalty payment of $110,200 to be deposited into an interest-bearing escrow account and to be used for the future purchase of lands acceptable to the Game Commission or deposited into the Game Fund. This payment shall be due upon the final execution of the lease and the issuance of a mining permit from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Laurel Sand & Stone also has agreed to convey to the Game Commission a 64.8-acre tract of land, valued at $1,000 per acre, which will provide public access to this portion of the SGL 79. The total value of the land and advanced royalty payment totals $175,000.

Laurel Sand & Stone also will make annual advance royalty payments of $75,000 to be deposited into an interest-bearing escrow account to be used for the future purchase of lands acceptable to the Game Commission or deposited into the Game Fund. All remaining coal royalty revenues generated from the proposed operation will be deposited directly into the Game Fund. The accumulated coal royalty value for the proposed mining acreage has been estimated to be $1,132,200.

Mining will be regulated by the Commonwealth's Surface Mining Regulations and the Commission's standard surface mine lease agreement. The six-year lease also will include a $25,000 performance bond. All merchantable timber within the proposed lease area will be assessed by the Southwest Regional Office's forestry staff at a double stumpage value. As part of the mine reclamation plan, Laurel Sand & Stone will reclaim about 8,500-linear feet of abandoned highwall. A wildlife habitat reclamation and revegetation enhancement plan for all disturbed areas of the lease tract will be developed in coordination with the local Land Management Group Supervisor and incorporated into the lease provisions.

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission