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October 29, 2012

Gas drilling experts named top conservationists

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — A pair of area experts on the science behind natural gas drilling have been selected as co-recipients of the 2012 OCCA Conservationist of the Year awards. 

The Otsego County Conservation Association announced that Louis W. Allstadt and Dr. Ronald Bishop are being honored “for their diligence in providing industry- and science-based information to the public on the possible environmental impacts of high-volume horizontal hydrofracturing for natural gas,” according to a media release. 

OCCA will also present a Special Recognition for Environmental Advocacy to the Middlefield Neighbors.

Award recipients will be honored at OCCA’s Annual Dinner, to be held Nov. 16 at The Tryon Inn in Cherry Valley.

“This year’s awards reflect the diversity of voices in the community working to educate Otsego County residents with regard to potential gas drilling impacts and to safeguard the environment,” OCCA Executive Director Darla M. Youngs said in the release.

Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Scott Fickbohm and Les Hasbargen of SUNY Oneonta’s Catskill Headwaters Research Institute will give a two-part keynote presentation titled “The Importance of Baseline Monitoring in the Protection of Water Resources.” 

Fickbohm will begin by outlining the importance of and need for baseline surface water quality monitoring relative to potential gas drilling in Otsego County. Hasbargen will talk about water well chemistry in Otsego County, and SUNY Oneonta’s ongoing campaign to characterize the chemistry of private drinking water wells in Otsego County.

OCCA Board President Vicky Lentz will follow the keynote presentation with an update on OCCA’s groundwater testing initiative, “What’s In Our Water?,” which addresses the need for both characterization and legal documentation and protection of Otsego County’s groundwater resources.

For the second year, OCCA’s Annual Dinner will include a silent auction to benefit OCCA’s programs to protect and preserve the environment. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for the preview. Items must be paid for at the end of the evening by cash or check. Reservations, at $35 per person, are due Nov. 9; for information, email admin@occainfo.org.

Otsego County’s oldest environmental conservation organization, OCCA is a private, nonprofit membership group dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, and planning. For more information, call 547-4488 or visit www.occainfo.org.