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BLM Auctions More Land in Ohio's Wayne National Forest

Nearly half of the roughly 2,456 acres in Ohio, Michigan and Mississippi auctioned for oil and gas development last week by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Eastern States Office received no bids.

Instead, about 1,313 acres in all three states were leased by Texas-based R&R Royalty Ltd. The rest of the acreage in Muskegon County, MI, and George County, MS, attracted no bids. The sale generated only about $22,636, but the bulk of those profits came from just 75 acres in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (WNF).

The parcels, in the Utica Shale hotspot of Monroe County, earned about $200/acre and took in nearly $16,000, including bonus payments and other fees.

BLM said in 2015 it was considering leasing land in the WNF’s Marietta Unit, which spans 40,000 acres in Ohio’s Monroe, Washington and Noble counties, which were nominated by the industry for unconventional development. The Eastern States Office began auctioning parcels two years ago and land in the forest has generated more than $7 million since.

The last auction for WNF properties was held in March during a broader lease sale that also included acreage in Arkansas. That sale took in only $4,629, but another sale late last year generated more than $1 million, mostly from WNF acreage in Monroe County.

The WNF is Ohio’s only national forest. Since BLM began auctioning parcels for unconventional oil and gas development there, environmental groups have filed petitions, administrative appeals and threatened lawsuits to slow down some of the lease sales.

BLM offers leases with a primary term of 10 years. The federal government receives a 12.5% royalty, while state governments receive a 25% minimum share of the bonus bid and the royalty revenue from each lease issued.

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