Hilary Lambert, steward and executive director of Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, and recent Freshwater Future Grassroots Advocate Award recipient, knows what it means to work together. Since July of 2009 she has been working with the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition (DRAC) to protect Dryden, NY from gas drilling and fracking.
What does DRAC know? They know that persistence, patience, and hard work produce results. For nearly four years they have been meeting and creating online communication tools to share information with their members and the wider public. This allows them to provide information, as well as gather perspectives from local residents on the issue of fracking. This led to holding informational events and expressing their concerns to the Dryden Town Board.
As DRAC was engaging the citizens of Dryden, they were simultaneously meeting with other communities in the area organizing to repel fracking from New York State’s southern border with Pennsylvania, working cooperatively with these groups, and developing links with groups in already-impacted areas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and beyond. Learning from attorneys Helen and David Slottje that New York towns may not regulate gas drilling and fracking, DRAC found out they are able to pass land-use laws that exclude these activities.
Using this information, in 2010 they collected petition signatures from Dryden residents to ask the Dryden Town Board to develop an industrial noise ordinance, making a firm statement against gas drilling. By spring 2011 they had collected 1600 signatures, presenting them to the Dryden Town Board with a clear message: Please write and vote in favor of a gas drilling and fracking zoning ordinance that will exclude these activities from our town, and please do it quickly.
The town board listened, and with the development of an ordinance written by the Dryden Town Attorney in cooperation with the Slottjes and others, in August 2011, the board voted a unanimous “Yes!” To learn more about DRAC, the 2011 Town Board vote, and what has happened since then, visit: draconline.wordpress.com.