The Tinicum Conservancy is implementing a strategy to extinguish unwanted oil and gas leases on properties in Upper Bucks County—a first by a conservation organization in Pennsylvania.
“I’m excited about this entirely new kind of conservation success. Although individuals have had some success extinguishing leases, this is the first comprehensive strategy put in place to remove multiple leases over a large area. We are extremely encouraged by the success of our test cases,” said Executive Director Jim Engel.
There are more than 350 gas leases in Nockamixon, Tinicum, and Bridgeton Townships; many are in and around ecologically important areas and watersheds, including the Upper Tinicum Creek, a PA-designated Exceptional Value stream.
Although current economic, political, and geologic realities make it unlikely that we will see gas drilling in our area in the foreseeable future, a gas lease attached to a property may devalue it, hinder its sale, or prevent a landowner from signing a conservation easement protecting it permanently. Easements often bring tax benefits and cash compensation to landowners, but many benefits are not available for properties with existing leases under township, county, or state funding rules.
The core of Tinicum Conservancy’s mission is land conservation; as a local, community-based, land conservation group it sees extinguishing oil and gas leases in the area as a conservation success in and of itself. Ideally, once a lease is lifted, these properties will be conserved. The Conservancy wants to work with landowners not only to navigate the process of extinguishing oil and gas leases, but also to explore a conservation easement (and available funding and compensation). However, commitment to an easement is not a requirement for assistance from the Conservancy.
“Our initial test cases have been a great success. The removal of additional leases from landowners’ titles can only be a net benefit for the entire community. We look forward to making that a reality,” said Conservancy President Boyce Budd. “I encourage any landowner who is interested in removing a gas lease from their deed to contact our Executive Director, Jim Engel at 610-294-1077.”
Founded in 1992, the Tinicum Conservancy is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to protecting the rural character and natural resources of Tinicum Township and surrounding areas through community-based land conservation. Tinicum Conservancy is nationally accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.