Electronic Field Guide » Pre-Development Issues » Minimizing Fragmentation

Habitat fragmentation is a direct result of gas exploration and development. It is a primary concern because it often is associated with the spread of invasive species, disturbance of sensitive habitats, changes in the forest micro-climate, changes in species composition and abundance, and potentially negative effects on biological diversity and ecosystem functions.  It is important to design where pads and pipelines are placed with a goal of minimizing fragmentation effects.  This is done by concentrating gas-associated infrastructure and disturbance near areas that already have some disturbance and minimizing activity in areas of undisturbed habitat.  Examples of ways to minimize fragmentation include:

  • Place pipelines along pre-existing roads and rights-of-ways whenever possible.
  • Place well pads near pre-existing roads.
  • Avoid pads and pipelines within core forest habitat (areas farther than 300 ft from any other road or opening).
  • Encourage gas companies to share gathering lines, water lines, etc., when working in the same area.
  • Revegetate pads and pipelines with shrubs and trees and minimize the time these areas are left unrestored.
  • Use woody debris from pad clearing to create brush piles and windrows that form corridors of microhabitat for amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals.  Birds will also use these as places to perch. Their droppings and the seeds they contain will help to replant the next forest.
  • Identify and avoid disturbance within sensitive habitats such as spring seeps and vernal ponds.