Seemingly out of the blue, this community was notified that the federal government has parceled out more than 43,000 acres of our land, mostly in the Talladega National Forest, to be auctioned this June as leases to oil and gas companies for potential drilling. Right now, I’m not interested in debating the pros and cons of “fracking.” Instead, I would like to express why everyone in our community, no matter what their political views, should take a stand against this upcoming auction.
The Talladega National Forest is some of the most beautiful land in our state. Relatively undisturbed and home to a wide variety of wildlife, we can all take pride in this great natural resource which exists in our backyard. This is our land. We don’t “lease” out our sacred land as though she’s some prostitute for big corporations to use as they will. How will possible fracking and the loss of access to wilderness recreation areas possibly benefit us?
Furthermore, why would we ever put our water supply, which is much more pristine than that of other communities, at even a minimal risk just so some corporation can make a profit? Many in our community have begun to develop eco-tourism. Campers, trail runners, cyclists, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and countless families and couples enjoy our forest yearly. Cheaha State Park draws thousands of tourists in the spring and fall, wishing to explore the home of Alabama’s highest peak and to hike her trails. For ages, outdoorsmen have enjoyed spending their weekends camped out in the most remote regions of this forest, regions that may become filled with heavy machinery and “no trespassing” signs.
We put our land and water supply at risk while some corporation makes a profit. Why would any of us be okay with this? The auction is set for June 14. Write Congressman Mike Rogers and let him know we won’t permit this in our backyard. Let’s come together and tell the federal government no.