Administration of Oil and Natural Gas Activities

Wayne National Forest System Lands - Administration of Oil and Natural Gas Activities 

Learn the process for Oil & Gas Leasing


The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Forest Service) is the surface managing agency when it comes to the development of minerals underlying National Forest lands. There are basically two types of mineral ownerships that are administered on the Wayne National Forest (WNF): Federal mineral ownership-these are mineral rights owned by the United States of America (USA) and private mineral rights that are not currently owned by the USA.

Federal laws (e.g. Mineral Leasing Act, The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976) allow for mineral development on National Forest System lands. The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hold a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that requires coordination between these agencies related to the leasing and management of federal minerals under National Forest land. The MOU with the BLM was signed on April 14, 2006, in compliance with Section 363 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

At the local level in 2006, the Wayne National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) was finalized. The Forest provides all federally owned oil and gas rights within the WNF administratively available for oil and gas leasing [36 CFR 228.102(d)]. In 2012 the Forest developed a Supplemental Information Report (SIR) that addressed certain aspects of mineral operations such as Horizontal Drilling and potential surface impacts associated with such operations. The review of new information (RONI) noted the impacts to the surface associated with such development of minerals were addressed in the 2006 Forest Plan. The protections noted as stipulations for federal mineral operations were adequate. The Forest Supervisor noted in the executive summary that the 2006 Forest Plan would not need updated.

Since the WNF started land purchases in 1935, 244,263 acres have been acquired, creating a complex mosaic of ownership in 12 counties on Southeast Ohio. Beneath approximately 41% or 100,139 acres of the WNF, oil and natural gas are federally owned. Privately owned oil and natural gas rights underlie approximately 59% or 144,103 acres of WNF system land.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 makes it clear that domestic energy development from renewable and nonrenewable sources is of national importance. Mineral development is an important component of resource management on the WNF.

Oil, gas, and coal have been produced in the Appalachian Basin, which includes the Wayne National Forest, for well over 100 years.

  • As of November 9, 2018, there are 1,272 active vertical wells on the Wayne National Forest. This total includes federal and private mineral operations.
  • Since the implementation of the current (2006) Forest Plan, 14 vertical wells have been produced.
  • As of June 2015, approximately 38,858 acres of federally-owned minerals have been leased, leaving approximately 61,281 acres not leased, more or less.
  • There are 492 active federal wells on the Wayne National Forest.

These numbers change due to wells being plugged and removed from operation and new lands being acquired.

  • The federal government contributes royalties received from mineral production on federal minerals to those counties within the Wayne National Forest boundary.

Mineral Ownership (+/-)

2015 Acres / %

 Leased Acres

Active Wells

Federally Owned Minerals


38,858 acres


Outstanding & Reserved Rights (Privately owned minerals)


Pvt Opns


Public Participation:

There are currently no Forest Service decisions related to oil and gas administration open to public input. However, if you believe you have new information that would significantly change previous decisions or influence future decisions, please email or call (414) 944-3935.

Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information:

U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management Eastern States (BLM) - The BLM reviews and approves permits and licenses from companies to explore, develop, and produce oil and gas and geothermal resources on both Federal and Indian lands. BLM is also responsible for inspection and enforcement of oil, gas, and geothermal wells and other development operations to ensure that lessees and operators comply with the lease requirements and BLM's regulations. Visit their web site for leasing information that includes the preleasing-EOI process, lease sales, leasing, post leasing, best management practice and other information

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Minerals & Geology Management - Manages energy and mineral resources into development, production, and reclamation according to specific authorities, legislation, rules, and regulations. The program is also responsible for authorization of ancillary projects, such as roads and pipelines that are part of the energy and minerals development projects. The value of energy and mineral production from National Forest System (NFS) lands typically exceeds $2 billion per year. More than 5 million acres of NFS lands are leased for oil, gas, coal, and phosphate.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) - On October 1, 2011, Ohio’s Oil & Gas Program became the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. The Division of Mineral Resources Management will continue overseeing the Coal, Industrial Minerals, Abandoned Mine Lands and Mine Safety programs.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) - Mission is to protect the environment. However, they also recognize the challenges they face as a state in attracting and retaining businesses to maintain a strong economy for Ohio. To help meet both of these goals they strive for timely permit application reviews that meet business timeframes whenever possible, while continuing their main mission of protecting the environment.

Disclaimer for External Links
The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Agriculture of the linked websites, or the information, products or services contained therein. Unless otherwise specified, the Department does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links are provided with the intent of meeting the mission of the Department and the Forest Service website. Please let us know about existing external links you believe are inappropriate and about specific additional external links you believe ought to be included.