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Gas drilling to begin at Hereford Manor Lakes

| Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 8:33 p.m.

ERIE — Hereford Manor Lakes is misnamed and likely will remain that way for a while.

The property in Franklin Township, Beaver County, doesn't have any lakes on it.

There were two as recently as 2011, and they were among the most popular places in the state for anglers on the opening day of trout season. But the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission drained the lakes when they were deemed to be high-hazard, unsafe dams. They remain empty.

That likely will remain the case into the near future even though the commission is about to make some money from the site.

Commission deputy director Brian Barner told board members Monday the agency is set to enter into an agreement that will allow Alberta Oil and Gas Co. to drill under the property.

The lease — the commission's fifth of its kind — is a nonsurface use deal, meaning Alberta can't drill or build well pads on the property, commission executive director John Arway said. Alberta will drill from adjacent lands and run lateral lines underground, he said.

The commission will get a one-time upfront payment of $1.346 million as well as a $224,250 “conservation donation.” It also will earn 18 percent royalties on the oil and gas mined.

How much those royalties might bring depends on how much gas is found and what price it goes for, Barner said.

All of the money — plus the $5.2 million the commission has earned from its other deals — will be put into a fund earmarked for repairing high-hazard dams.

Money generated at one lake does not necessarily have to be spent there, Barner said. The commission has nine lakes that either have been drained, lowered or are one bad inspection away from either.

The idea has been to repair them based on a variety of factors from cost to priority, Barner said.

The cost of building one lake at Hereford Manor has been estimated at $12 to $15 million, Barner said. That makes it the most expensive project of its kind statewide and likely ensures its “lakes” will sit empty for a while.

“The amount of money this would generate would not be enough to fix that facility anyway,” Barner said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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