About Us

The Issue

Many Ohioans are aware of the interest to expand oil and gas development in the state.  Rural Landowners are being approached about leasing their mineral rights for development. Many communities are increasingly concerned that
Appalachia will again be exploited for its natural resources at the expense of the land, people, and long term sustainable economic development. There is an immense amount of pressure on the landowner to sign a lease.

Overview of our work

In January of 2011, The Look before you Lease (LB4UL) group began looking at oil and gas issues facing landowners in Ohio, particularly around newer technologies such as horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “hydrofracking” and private landowner leases. Rural Action, Ohio State University Extension in Athens County, Athens County Farm Bureau, and Appalachia Ohio
Alliance (AOA) are the working organizations of the LB4UL group. All four organizations have a history of working with landowners in Appalachian Ohio.

The name Look Before You Lease is in reference to the very successful Call Before you Cut Program. In 2002, both Rural Action and OSU Extension participated (with several other groups) in the creation and establishment of the Call Before you Cut program, now managed by the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and OSU Extension. Call before you cut has been very successful over the years in educating landowners about their rights and responsibilities, as well as understanding the language of timber sale contracts in such a way that the results meet landowner expectations. The adoption of Call Before You Cut in several Midwestern states is one more indicator of its success. We intend to generate this same level of interest and enthusiasm from landowners through LB4UL.

In August, we completed the first version of our landowner tool kit. We have also secured funding to get an explanatory lease template written that will assist landowners in understanding many provisions needed in newer lease agreements. Our next step will be to organize a series of meetings meetings in Athens County and to recruit and train volunteers who will educate their neighbors about questions to ask if they are approached by a landman. Ultimately, we want landowners to understand the risks, benefits, and responsibilities of entering into an oil and gas lease agreement.

The LB4UL group recognizes that additional shale development in Ohio is likely to play an important role in our states energy portfolio as shale gas now represents 30% of natural gas used in the United States. With this recognition we caution that this development does not happen at the expense of smart and protective policies for the citizens of Ohio. We also caution that
development does not happen at the expense of our most precious natural resource, water. Rural landowners and business owners are very concerned about the potential reduction in quantity and quality of both surface and sub-surface water sources for human and animal (domestic and wild) consumption. Our goal is assist the landowners by to providing enough education, resource, and guidance to make them feel comfortable with their decision. We recognize that each landowner is unique and that our effort is not a substitute for legal counsel.

Our Goal

  •  Become a trusted resource for landowners in Appalachian Ohio; focused primarily on private landowner property rights and leases.


  • The 32 Appalachian counties of Ohio (where educational efforts will be targeted) this is also likely to be where the majority of oil and gas reserves will be found in the Marcellus and Utica formations. We intend to initiate this effort in Athens County and to refine our format and materials prior to organizing a larger regional effort.

Target Population

  • Rural Landowners who want reliable information about oil and gas leases, rights, and other considerations such as conservation values. Our effort will be geared towards landowners who are considering a lease on their property.

2011 Objectives

  • Work with an attorney familiar with Oil and Gas Leases in order to come up with an explanatory lease template that covers side by side explanations of unusual provisions or landowner options for various provisions;
  • Assemble an informational toolkit utilizing existing publications from trusted sources;
  • Organize and train community volunteers;
  • Provide community outreach through volunteers and educational sessions;
  •  Seek out additional funding for this initiative.

The  LB4UL Website

This site is a shared, non-partisan site that resulted from diverse groups talking about their questions and concerns for the new wave of oil and gas exploration coming into Ohio. These groups decided they wanted a place to learn and share more about oil and gas lease options, regulations, policy, science and technology, impacts, and many more issues around this activity.

To that end, what you will find here is a wide range of perspectives, information, and resources. The participating groups come from different backgrounds and have different levels of engagement on this issue.

To the left is a navigation pane that will help you get around the site.

More about us and our work:

About Look Before You Lease – Shale Development Considerations for Ohio




Rural Action is a membership-based organization that has worked with communities in Appalachian Ohio to find enduring solutions to social,  economic, and ecological problems for 20 years. Our mission is to work for social, environmental, and economic justice in Appalachian Ohio.

The organization takes a comprehensive, integrated approach to rural community development that creates economic opportunities, conserves and restores the environment and strengthens communities. Rural Action’s project areas include Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Watershed Restoration, Waste Stream and Recycling, Energy, and Environmental Education.

Our vision is to live in a region of clean streams, healthy forests, thriving family farms, meaningful jobs for everyone, lively towns that remember their history and people working together to make this a reality.





OSU Extension Athens County, Engaging people to strengthen their lives and communities through research-based educational programming.







Appalachia Ohio Alliance (AOA) is a regional land trust that operates in Southeastern Ohio with headquarters in Logan. AOA promotes the conservation of natural areas, farmland, forestland and open space. AOA has been actively helping families protect their lands since 2002.