Under the new final forest plan, officials have decided the George Washington National Forest that spans through Virginia and West Virginia will begin allowing some oil and gas action via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling. This includes a determination that will limit availability of new leases, and provides a strong framework for development on roughly 10,000 acres where leases currently exist, as well as on 167,200 acres that have existant private mineral rights.

There are no current leases and mineral rights within the forest that are active at this time, and there is not any mineral development under way on any adjacent private land, officials added. The decision will not prohibit specific technologies in the development of gas and oil resources, and all proposals to develop existing leases in the George Washington National Forest would be subject to environmental analysis, as well as open to public engagement and comment on the potential development.