By Rick Hiduk
Dale Howell lives in Springville, Susquehanna County. He was raised on a farm in nearby Wyoming County and moved back to Susquehanna County to purchase land in Auburn Township. In recent decades, he was watching farms shutting down one after another.
“As farming died, all the little towns died too,” Dale noted. Factories were moving out of the area, leaving a few struggling timber operations and stone quarries in their wake. Jobs were getting scarce, and the few that were left were no paying living wages.
“Then the gas people came, and things started booming again,” said Dale. He’s grateful for the change at a time that he sensed the local economy was on the verge of collapse. Not only does Dale have relatives who work directly with the gas companies, he’s seen other companies modify their services and product lines to establish lucrative relationships in support of the gas industry.
As a landowner with four gas wells on his property, Dale and his family have benefited greatly from the royalty payments. “I’ve been able to do a lot of things that I wasn’t able to do without it,” he related, citing helping his sons pay off the mortgages on their homes as an example. “As long as the royalties keep coming, I’ll be able to help more people.”
Dale maintains that all of his dealings with Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation have been positive. While everyone may not derive the same benefits from the industry being in the area, he has a big-picture perspective of the business and what natural gas has done for the community.
“The road past my property was no more than a cow path,” Dale recalled. “Now, it’s a highway. Our roads are one of the biggest improvements they have made.”
No doubt, when the big rigs first rolled into the countryside, there was dust and there were ruts. But Cabot worked with municipalities and Pennsylvania’s highway department to find the best solution to the problem.
“We’ve all learned a lot about road building,” Dale remarked, including how to establish better bases and proper drainage.
Hunting is another element of country living that Dale insists has improved since the initial impact has given way to riparian buffers and the restoration of vegetation that was promised. Before the arrival of the gas companies, he noted, the understorage in the forests was gone, and the population of white tailed deer and other wildlife was on the decline. After the areas around the gas pads and the right-of-ways were reseeded, Dale stated, “The deer came back. I think the deer herd is bigger than it was before.”
“I’ve had nothing but good experiences,” Dale said in summary of his relationship with Cabot and other companies working in the local gas fields. “They’ve treated me and my property with respect, and that’s very important to me.”