Don’t be so quick to celebrate cancellation of leases in the Wayne

Conservation groups celebrating the cancellation of auctions of two mineral leases in the Wayne National Forest are hopeful this unusual step, taken by the Bureau of Land Management, is a victory — and perhaps a first step in eventually pulling all such extraction out of the forest.

“We’re pleased the feds decided to take this step, but we would like to see them go further,” said Wendy Park, senior lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity.

What those folks fail to consider are the negative consequences to local residents.

“The landowners are waiting for their minerals to be produced,” said Ohio Oil and Gas Association spokesman Mike Chadsey. “Obviously we are frustrated when sales are pulled …”

Should you be tempted to believe those financial effects will be felt only by a handful of landowners, bear in mind the students in Monroe County schools.

“The producers, if they can’t get leases, will go somewhere else, while the school district desperately needs money,” Chadsey said.

It seems as though the BLM may have canceled the auctions to further examine the Center for Biological Diversity’s concerns for endangered species of bats, public health and cultural and historical sites. If that is the case, such an investigation must take place quickly.

If it is determined the conservationists’ concerns have merit, fine. But if not — or if there are ways to mitigate those concerns — the auctions should not be delayed any more than necessary.