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Fracking Under a Piece of History in Susquehanna County

(Source: Jason Weinstein)

This 153-acre farm in Brooklyn Township, Pennsylvania is no stranger to being part of critical issues of the day. In 1793, Prince Perkins, a free black man, bought the farm which is a half-mile from the old Milford-Owego Turnpike, which runaway slaves used to get to upstate New York and Canada.

"Being this was a free black site, African-Americans who died on the Underground Railroad may be buried on our family's cemetery," said Denise Dennis.

Today the land, owned by the Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust, has become involved in the fracking debate. The charitable trust is run by Denise Dennis, a seventh-generation descendant of Prince Perkins.

"When you're responsible for something that's been in your family for 200 years you don't want to be the one who screws it up," said Dennis.

For eight years she held out from signing a natural gas lease. This despite being surrounded by neighbors who signed.

"I didn't sign and I didn't sign and I was at a stalemate," said Dennis.

But in 2012 she finally relented after a string of meetings with the upper management of Cabot Oil and Gas, including the company's CEO.

"Landowners have to talk to industry. Industry has to talk to landowners. In my case that's what I did," said Dennis.

Dennis became a self-described expert on fracking. But it was pragmatism more than anything else that led her to sign.

"I don't think it's safe always to get in a plane. I don't think that it's safe always to cross the street. I don't think it's safe to go under an anesthetic to go under surgery. What is safe? I think the better question is do I think there are risks? Yes, I think there are risks," said Dennis.

The lease is helping Dennis with her ultimate goal of raising the $20 to $25 million dollars she needs to preserve the land as an historic site.

****In Brooklyn Township, PA, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****

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