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More than 3,300 acres of the Wayne National Forest could go back on an auction block after federal officials decided shale drilling and fracking can be allowed within the forest.
Shale wells could be drilled in as many as 13 sites throughout the Wayne forest by 2016, according to an analysis done by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The drilling estimate was included with a report released yesterday that states a 2006 forest-management plan covers the potential environmental impacts of shale drilling, even though at the time it deemed such drilling not yet economically feasible.
Forest Service officials canceled a Dec. 7 public auction and agreed to re-examine the management plan after Athens-area leaders and environmental advocates objected to drilling.