The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday they received a revised land purchase proposal from Canadian mining company Graymont Incorporated. The company wants to purchase more than 10,000 acres of public land in the Upper Peninsula to mine limestone in three locations. The proposal has only one change from the original one submitted – a raise in the amount of money paid to the state for each ton of limestone. The land being considered for sale is in Mackinac county near the town of Rexton.
The new offer of payment per ton is 30 cents. The original amount offered in their January 2015 proposal was 18.75 cents per ton. The mining company has also offered to set up an economic development fund for the local community to provide funds for schools, governments, and small business. Another proposal from Graymont under consideration would exchange land from the parcel Graymont wants to purchase with land from the Hiawatha National Forest. The entire operation would impact Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties.
The issue that has many people concerned is the 10,000 acres being considered is state forest land that doesn’t fall under any of the criteria the DNR set for selling public land, according to the Michigan Sierra Club. The 10,000 parcel is forest land with wetlands, trailways, and full of wildlife. The British Columbia-based company wants to utilize both open pit and underground mines in what is essentially premium forest land in Northern Michigan.
Another problem with the proposal is the Canadian company has given no numbers on how many jobs the quarry could potentially produce for the region, despite promises there would be good-paying, long-term jobs.
On January 15, six DNR division heads urged Keith Creagh, Director of the agency to reject Gravemont’s proposal. State Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba has been supporting Graymont in their interest to buy the land. Casperson believes the state owns too much land and needs to sell it to private business.
Director Creagh will be holding a meeting on the proposals on February 12, but he won’t make a final decision on the proposals until March 19. The public has until then to voice their opinions on this sale, and voice concerns about the destruction of pristine state and federal-owned forest land in the Upper Peninsula. You can write to Keith Creagh by email at DNRGraymontProposalComments@michigan.gov or mail a comment to Customer Service Center, ATTN: Kerry Wieber, 8717 N. Roscommon Road, Roscommon, MI 48653. All comments will be accepted until March 19, when the final decision will be made. Please take the time to write or email the Michigan DNR and urge them not to allow this land deal to go through. We don’t need open pit mines destroying our forests and wetlands in Northern Michigan.