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January 18, 2013

OCCA: Local gas leases dwindling

Gas leases are drying up in Otsego County, according to the latest information compiled by the Otsego County Conservation Association. 

The Cooperstown-based environmental group has been tracking leased land in the county since 2008 using public records. The map shows all parcels found to have been under a gas or oil lease since the late 1990s, and the status of those leases as of Dec. 7. No new leases were identified since the last version of the map was published in December 2010, but expiring leases and other factors have reduced the amount of acreage countywide under lease, according to a media release from OCCA.

According to updates made by OCCA Environmental Planner Rima Shamieh and Martha Clarvoe, special projects manager, 1,165 parcels totaling 70,654 acres, or 11 percent of the land in the county have been under at least one lease since the late 1990s. Of those 70,654 acres, only 29,065 were still under a valid lease as of Dec. 7.

“The acreage leased in the county dropped from 11 percent of the total land area to 4.5 percent. That’s a huge decrease. And, the vast majority of those leases expired rather than being terminated prematurely, while none of them have been renewed,” Shamieh said in the release. 

“The original map, made public in December 2008, showed that 6.61 percent of the county had been leased. By April 2009 this figure had risen to just over 9 percent, and had reached 11 percent by December 2010,” OCCA Executive Director Darla M. Youngs said in the release. 

Other changes noted by the mapmakers include: 

• 36 percent of the acreage that was under a lease has had its lease released or terminated (extinguished) by the gas company and is no longer under a lease.

• A significant number of leases, covering 16,429 acres and 281 parcels, have expired but have not been formally released (let go or extinguished) by the company holding the lease.

OCCA produced its first gas lease map in 2008 as a visual tool for local governments to be able to track activity within their boundaries and so that municipalities might consider drafting land use regulations or modifying existing laws to address concerns. The information is provided “as is,” and OCCA makes no guarantee or warranty concerning its accuracy or completeness. The revised map will be made available via the OCCA website at

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