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In the last century there was a lot of oil and gas wells sunk throughout Okmulgee County. Most of them have been abandoned when they became unprofitable.
That has led to a program of plugging wells and reclaiming the land around them.
The Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge has some 500 wells within its boundaries and a plan is being studied to take care of those areas.deep fork
Starting Jan. 6 and running through Feb. 6, the public is invited to see an environmental assessment and add their comments to it.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with overseeing the refuge and will be spearheading the project.
Plugging and restoring areas that have orphan oil and gas wells is important for public health and safety. Orphan oil and gas wells can contaminate groundwater, emit noxious gases including methane, and harm wildlife.
Once an orphan well has been mapped and surveyed a contractor would proceed to plug and reclaim the site following Department of Interior guidance and Oklahoma state regulations.
That Environmental Assessment discusses the purpose and need to plug, abandon, and reclaim orphan oil and gas wells on the refuge. The Draft EA has been prepared to evaluate the positive and negative effects of these activities on the natural and human environment. An important part of the process is gathering feedback from the public, tribes, and other agencies.
Established in 1993, the refuge extends along some 34 miles of the Deep Fork River. It was set up to to protect one of the last remaining remnants of bottomland hardwood forest in Oklahoma.
The Draft EA will be available for public review and comment on the Deep Fork NWR website https://www.fws.gov/refuge/deep-fork. Please submit any comments via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
For additional questions about the Refuge, please contact the Refuge Headquarters at (918) 652-0456 or the website at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/deep-fork.