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Northeast Drilling Boom Threatens Forest Wildlife

The Nature Conservancy is examining potential effects from gas drilling and wind turbines on an eight-state region from New York to Tennessee. That report is due out later this year. The group notes that old and new energy sources have both promise and risk.

Careful planning and reforestation efforts could reduce the effects of pipelines, wind turbines and other human activity, scientists said. For example, multiple pipelines could go on one right of way, or wind turbines might go on land already barren because of old coal mining.

Planting native shrubs in the pipeline pathways, which need to remain treeless to avoid root damage to pipes and to give maintenance crews access, would be better than just grass, the Nature Conservancy noted.

Why should anyone care, Heatley asked, whether forest creatures get replaced by invasive plants and animals that can better tolerate human activity?

To see crows, opossums and squirrels, "you can go anywhere," he said, and in the Northeast it's easy to find trees, but large blocks of deep forest are rare. "It's a unique asset."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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