- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A section of the planned Constitution Pipeline, designed to bring natural gas to New York City and New England, has been redrawn to avoid a 1,000-acre private forest with fragile wetlands.

Christopher Stockton, spokesman for the 124-mile pipeline to bring cheap gas north from Pennsylvania’s shale fields, confirmed the route change Tuesday. Stockton said the change adds almost 3 miles to the route and affects 11 landowners, who recently signed right-of-way agreements.

The new route avoids the private Charlotte Forest in Harpersfield, about 50 miles southwest of Albany.

The property is owned by the heirs of forester Henry Kernan. Family members have managed the forest for 70 years and were among the pipeline opponents. Construction would have required clearing trees from a mile-long, 75-foot-wide swath across the Kernans’ forest between two ecologically rare sphagnum bog lakes.

“Since we introduced this project more than three years ago, we have adopted more than 300 route changes affecting more than 50 percent of the project,” Stockton said. “Most of these route changes were the direct result of feedback received from landowners, permitting agencies and data collected as a result of field surveys.”

The project has Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval contingent on receipt of a water quality certificate from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The department has no timetable for completing a review of the project’s potential impact on streams and wetlands, spokesman Tom Mailey said Tuesday.

Stockton said Constitution Pipeline LLC plans to start construction in September. The line will end in New York’s Schoharie County, where it will connect with existing lines.

A second pipeline, the 325-mile Northeast Energy Direct project proposed by Kinder Morgan, is in earlier stages of planning on a roughly parallel route.

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