Land under Hartwick Pines State Park could be leased for oil and gas exploration

Aug 19, 2014

Our need for energy could be colliding with our desire to preserve Michigan’s natural beauty.

Case in point: around 9,700 acres of Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling could be included in an MDNR auction October 29 for a lease of mineral rights.

Ron French reported on this story for Bridge Magazine. He said it’s not unusual for the state to lease ground underneath state parks.

Twice a year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources holds an auction where they lease oil and gas rights to anyone who wants to explore. Companies or individuals can nominate any state property for exploration for oil and gas. One Michigan oil company nominated Hartwick Pines.

Is there something symbolic about the Hartwick Pines that should be protected?

Hartwick Pines State Park holds a 49 acre parcel that is the largest, and possibly the last, virgin forest of white pines in the Lower Peninsula.

“These are pine that are up to 400 years old, they’re up to 12 feet in circumference, they are up to 165 feet tall, this is what Michigan looked like before logging,” French said.

French points out that a lease is not a right to drill on the property.

“What are the chances of something going on near Hartwick Pines? They are small, but they are greater than they would be if this lease hadn’t occurred,” French said.

French said the question remains: Is there something symbolic about the Hartwick Pines that should be protected?

The MDNR will take public comments on the issue through September 5. If you want to comment, send a letter to the following address:

Minerals Management Manager, DNR

P.O. Box 30452

Lansing, Michigan 48909-7952

An auction on the mineral leases is set for Oct. 29.

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