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Beau Nishimura, taproom manager at Little Fish Brewery, pours the brewery's newest beer, "No Frackin" for a customer during a fundraiser event on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2016. The money raised was for the Buckeye Environmental Network in their fight against fracking in the Wayne National Forest.

Activists at Little Fish Brewery pushing back on fracking in Wayne National Forest

Correction appended.

Little Fish Brewery held a beer release and fundraiser Thursday, unveiling a new brew called "No Frackin' Wayne" in opposition to potential hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Wayne National Forest.

The Bureau of Land Management auctioned off land in Ohio's only national forest in December for oil and gas purposes, despite protest from environmental activists. With 719 acres of land sold, the auction netted more than $1 million, according to a previous Post report.

"We didn't win that fight, but the fight is not over," Sean White, co-owner and head brewer at Little Fish, said.

Little Fish Brewery is partnering with the non-profit environmental group, Buckeye Environmental Network. The brewery has pledged to donate one dollar to the non-profit for every pint sold. White said while he hoped Little Fish's stance wouldn't upset people, the business was willing to make a stand. 

"It's really important and close to my heart," White said. "I think sometimes you have to bear your heart to people and hope for the best."

White said he was pleased with the turnout at the event and thought the beer — made from Ohio-grown ingredients — was received well. More than 50 people attended. 

Michael Hollingsworth, a lawyer and visiting assistant professor at Ohio University teaching environmental law, worried about endangered species in the forest. He said the Indiana bat was one such species that could be negatively impacted by extraction efforts in the forest. The bats, already threatened by a fungus responsible for white-nose syndrome, would be put "very much at risk" due to the destruction of their habitat. Hollingworth said the Northern Long-Eared Bat was also at risk.

Heather Cantino, a board member of the Buckeye Environmental Network, said the bats provided important benefits to the ecosystem because they eat mosquitos and other insects. 

"Without them, we would probably have a much-higher incidence of disease amongst humans," Hollingsworth said.

The Bureau of Land Management issued an environmental assessment stating there would be no significant environmental impact to the land sales for oil and gas use in the Wayne National Forest, but Cantino said the assessment was inadequate and the bureau was "paying lip service" to environmental concerns.

"The (environmental assessment) that they did is a hack job," Cantino said. "I've said that it's not even worthy of a high school student's report."

Caitlyn McDaniel, chair of the board of directors for the Buckeye Environmental Network, said it's no coincidence that extraction and other harmful pollution takes place near communities in Appalachia, which is known to be a particularly impoverished region.

"It's just kind of funny how these injection wells always end up in the poorest communities," White said. "It's like that same old story that's always told. The people that make the least money get stomped on."

McDaniel said the recent protests in North Dakota in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline inspired people to ask how they can help environmental causes.

“We can’t just fight it when it’s in the pipeline … we need to be fighting at every stage,” McDaniel said. “Here in Athens and Marietta — this is the place to start.”


A previous version of this article misspelled Michael Hollingsworth's name. The story had been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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