Striking a Balance: Preserving the Surface While Drilling in WV

What happens when the mineral rights for oil and gas under a piece of land are owned by someone other than those who own the surface land itself? In West Virginia, that happens a lot–it’s a called a “split estate” and was done years ago for coal mining. Furthermore, what happens if the surface owner is the county or state government, and the land is a nature preserve, used for hunting and outdoor enthusiasts? It is a conundrum. Clearly the mineral owners have the right to access the minerals under the land, but in doing so, there’s going to be inconvenience for hunters and others using the surface land. Both sides have to work together.

The Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area in Wetzel County, WV is a good example where both sides have not found a perfect solution, but it seems they have found a workable one…

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