News and analysis from The Center for Michigan • http://thecenterformichigan.net
©2014 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at http://bridgemi.com

Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2014/08/oil-lease-proposed-under-400-year-old-virgin-pines/

Quality of life

Oil lease proposed under 400-year-old virgin pines

Michigan’s largest stand of old growth pines, some 400 years old, may have oil drilling underneath them at Hartwick Pines State Park. ((Photo by Flickr user Scott Smithson; used under Creative Commons license)

Michigan’s largest stand of old growth pines, some 400 years old, may have oil drilling underneath them at Hartwick Pines State Park. ((Photo by Flickr user Scott Smithson; used under Creative Commons license)

The state may allow drilling for oil underneath the largest remaining stand of virgin forest in the Lower Peninsula.

About 9,700 acres of Hartwick Pines State Park and surrounding land near Grayling are on a list of parcels nominated by oil and gas companies for lease of mineral rights. The lease of those parcels, which include the largest remaining old growth white pine trees south of the Mackinac Bridge as well as the rest of one of Michigan’s most popular parks, is likely to be included in a Department of Natural Resources auction Oct. 29.

No development would be allowed on the ground surface. But the leases open the possibility of slant or horizontal drilling under trees that have grown since the first Europeans stepped foot in the region.

While mineral exploration deep below the surface isn’t likely to harm the trees, the possibility of drilling raises concerns about the boom of oil rigs at a beloved state park, and is symbolic of the occasional tension in the state between business interests and Pure Michigan.

“There are some special places in the state that oil and gas development should not be happening,” said Jack Schmitt, deputy director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters. “And Hartwick Pines is one of them.”

Majestic survivors

Hartwick Pines, just north of Grayling along I-75, is one of the largest state parks in the Lower Peninsula. The park contains four lakes, camping facilities and a logging museum. But the highlight of the park is a 49-acre plot containing the Lower Peninsula’s largest remaining old growth white pines. Some are estimated to be more than 400 years old – saplings at the time the first European explorer stepped foot in the forests that would later become Michigan. They were about 250 years old in the mid 1800’s when the trees in Michigan were clear cut for lumber.

Today, the tallest are about 165 feet high, with a diameter of almost four feet and a circumference of 12 feet.

According to the state’s website about Hartwick Pines, “This forest is a reminder of Michigan’s past importance in the pine lumber industry as well as a source of inspiration for the future of our forests.”

The Department of Natural Resources holds two auctions a year to take bids for mineral leases on state-owned property. An online map shows parcels in each county that are up for bid in the next auction.

Parcels of state land are nominated for mineral lease by companies or individuals. (Hartwick Pines was nominated by Clayton Energy Co. (a Jackson-based company which nominated the park land at the request of a client whose name a company representative would not reveal to Bridge.) The state assesses the nominated parcels, pulling some from the nomination list and placing restrictions on others.

Nominations can be turned down by the DNR, which is now taking public comment on parcels considered for lease (See how to make a public comment below).

Most leases not drilled

Just because the ground underneath Hartwick Pines is available for lease, doesn’t necessarily mean there will be drilling under the park. In a typical auction, about two-thirds of parcels are bid on and leased; among those leased, fewer than 10 percent ever have any development during the five-year term of the lease, said Julie Manson, oil and gas lease management supervisor at the DNR.

“A lease doesn’t give them the right to drill,” Manson said. “They’d still need to get a drilling permit from the (state) Department of Environmental Quality.”

If oil or gas was found under the park, the state would receive part of the proceeds from extraction, Manson said.

That someone would ask to lease the mineral rights under Hartwick Pines probably wasn’t an accident, said Marvin Roberson, forest specialist with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club.

“Most of the oil companies have been doing this long enough not to propose a lease under a state park unless they’ve figured out someplace they can get to the minerals from another surface,” Roberson said. “In most cases, it’s because there are known deposits in the area or they’ve done seismic testings.”

Roberson said slant or horizontal drilling under the park – which could go 10,000 feet deep – would not hurt the virgin pines. “What can be affected,” said Roberson, “is our ability to enjoy standing in the virgin pines because we’re 150 yards away from an oil rig that’s louder than a rock concert.”

Calls for comment to the Michigan Oil and Gas Association were not returned.

Manson, of the DNR, said it was “fairly common” for the state to lease mineral rights under state parks. Negwegon State Park in Alpena County, Hayes State Park in Jackson County, and Clear Lake State Park in Montmorency all have active, non-surface development leases on at least some of their property.

That hasn’t calmed the nerves of environmentalists concerned about the Hartwick Pines lease.

“This is an area we’ve purposely preserved for decades,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters. “Off the cuff, it does not sound like a wise decision.”

Gov. Rick Snyder’s office did not return a request for comment.

Oil brings cash, jobs to state

Based on an analysis of historical auction bids conducted by a Michigan environmental group, Hartwick Pines leases could bring in as much as $300,000 to the state. Those proceeds go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund and parks development fund for acquisition of special lands and maintenance of state parks.

“Theres no doubt we get benefits from oil and gas drilling,” the Sierra Club’s Roberson said. “Like or not, oil and gas provide a lot of jobs in Michigan. It would be politically difficult to say, we’re just done with that.”

“I often don’t agree with them, but it’s my opinion that everyone in the DNR is doing what they think is best for the state,” Roberson said. “Their motivation is not under question.”

What is under question: Does allowing drilling anywhere on state land mean drilling should be allowed everywhere?

“Even if there is no surface development around the park,” said Schmitt, of the League for Conservation Voters, “I don’t think the optics are the wisest.”

Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011, after winning more than 40 state and national journalism awards at The Detroit News. See more stories by him here.

60 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Dirk Bloemendaal

    I support oil and gas drilling in Michigan but also believe there are places that should be sacrosant – Hartwick Pines is one of those places. This would be the equivalent of running lines into Yosemite Valley, along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, next to Old Faithful. The oil and gas industry would do well to recognize that the PR gain they’d achieve through standing off certain “crown jewels” would greatly outweigh any immediate cash infusion. Let’s not sell our souls!

    1. Matt

      The equivalent comparison would be having a cell phone tower out side the boundary of Yellowstone Park and having the radio waves run through the park. The only people who are upset are those who are looking for a reason to object for any reason they can come up.

      1. Jim

        Your comparison does not make sense. The article stated that the drilling equipment will be extremely noisy and will destroy the serenity of the park. From the article: “What can be affected,” said Roberson, “is our ability to enjoy standing in the virgin pines because we’re 150 yards away from an oil rig that’s louder than a rock concert.”

        1. John

          What the article and Jim both fail to note is that the noise is over when the drilling stops. You are making it sound as though it is a permanent part of the process when that is not true. Quoting the League of Conservation Voters is also giving additional visibility to a progressive group funded by activist foundations.

          http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=8af3d005-1337-4bc3-bcd6-be947c523439

          1. Matt

            Exactly! Further, just because land is under lease doesn’t mean there will be a rig within a half a mile from it even if it’s drilled at all. This is just more scaremongering from people who want no drilling anywhere but know they can’t win that debate.

          2. J

            Have you ever been near drilled hole with pump running? Or a compression station? Those places are neither quiet nor visually appealing.

        2. patty

          Have you been to Grayling the noise here with the army in our back yard what a little more noise.

      2. Joe

        I have heard the mechanical drone of oil rigs next to the Arbutus Lake State Forest near Traverse City. It is loud, fairly constant and anything but inspiring or natural. The US is now exporting oil to Communist China due to surplus production when we should be improving quieter alternatives like solar. Ironically, Hartwick Pines is one of few original stands left after Michigan was denuded in the early 1900’s. Now the same type of anti-environmentalist is still with us today unable to leave nature alone for its on sake.

    2. Susan Gaylord

      How can we stop this from happening?

      1. Ruth

        Make your comments and concerns known – Write to Minerals Management Office at the DNR. Address and phone is given in article. Hurry, you have until Sept. 5th. You comments will go on records when it comes up for review with the state.

  2. Jeanette Havel

    Hartwick Pines State Park is right on Lake Huron. Shouldn’t we be concerned about the fresh water lake being polluted as well as the historic pines that could be harmed by the process? It’s not always about the money folks, we have to live with the results.

    1. Tamara B.

      Agree. I bet boil water advisories like they just had in Toledo are going to become more common, ever since “environmentalist” became a dirty word.

    2. matt

      This and Tamara is a perfect example of disinformation/scaremongering from the no drilling crowd . Hartwick Pines is NO WHERE near lake Huron or any significant lake!

      1. Tamara B.

        The point is, anytime someone suggests we slow down and consider the impact of drilling, etc., that person is labled something bad – scaremonger, etc. You made my point beautifully.

        1. Paul

          “Matt” and “John” are clearly just paid trolls. Paid by companies that are paid by companies who want these contracts.
          They can say what they want but history has spoken. Maybe it would be fine but this is one case where greed needs to back off. Leave some of the gas in the ground. You can’t have it all. Back off our National Parks!!

          1. Matt

            And … Paul thinks Hartwick Pines is a National Park and uses no petroleum products!

        2. Matt

          Well … When someone uses half/quarter truths such as Lake Huron, and the algae issue in lake Erie to raise fears and, ignoring the fact that Erie is cleaner than it’s been in the last 50 – 100 years, Fear mongering? it is what it is.

          1. pdp

            Clean? You still can’t drink the water.

          2. J

            The cleanliness (if you can really call it that), is related to the invasive zebra mussels- that same cleanliness/clearness is why the algae has a chance too bloom aided by all the fertilizer runoff of so many close farms. Don’t forget, the Ontario side of Erie is Canada’s bread basket. Which means, Erie is getting massive amounts of fertilizer runoff from both sides.

          3. KWS

            Matt,

            I live in Toledo, saying that Lake Erie is cleaner than it has been in years is not saying much. The Lake is still a mess and its the chemical, oil, etc. dirty companies who make it this way. Instead of treating it like an abundant freshwater resource, we treat it like a toilet. The west would literally kill for the natural resources we have and yet we kill the resources. Its a joke that HPSF is even up for auction and the surrounding resources such as the Manistee, Au Sable, and other incredible resources are the real places in danger.

            Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if the money is really worth it because no matter what anyone tells you, its not. Your boss and your bosses boss are going to stuff their pockets at all costs… I guess you are just next in line.

      2. Laura Rippey

        No, it is not near Lake Huron. It is near the Au Sable River! There should be no drilling of any kind near this river!

        1. John

          There are 3,500 wells already drilled in the Au Sable river watershed. Where is all the damage again???

    3. Bob Martel

      Not to condone the proposal to lease the mineral rights under this State Park, but to clarify the concern expressed above, Hartwick Pines SP is NOT on or near Lake Huron. It is in the middle of the State along I-75.

    4. Lacey Stephan

      Hartwick pines is located in the center of the state.

    5. Karen

      Sorry, but Hartwick Pines is miles from Lake Huron!

  3. Erwin Haas

    Parallel to this discussion, please let me bloviate;

    I’m in a position in which find myself subjected to the claims and stridency of the “New Urbanism.” The fantasy is that if we here in Michigan make our cities look like villages with “walkable” neighborhoods, public services and higher taxes, we will retain our “young” people who are technically adept and will bring jobs back to Michigan. Villages like Cleveland and Pittsburgh are often cited as success stories.

    I don’t know much about Cleveland, but two of our kids moved to Pittsburgh. One, the gifted engineer, hated it and left after a year (around 2004-5); the other, the statistician loves it and now has a mortgage for what it’s worth. Pittsburgh has had streetcars, planted trees, planned it’s non existent new construction to look like tourist traps, and lost 5% of its population (both the city itself and the metropolitan area) each of the last two decades. It is dying of its new urbanism.

    But, here’s the hook; PIttsburgh has a very bright future!
    As one drives up I 76 just north of the city, one is treated to the vision of a 12 inch pipe extending 50 feet into the air, and a 50 foot high flame of natural gas being flared off. Wasted, some will say, but just think of the free energy available to the mothballed steel mills, foundries, and infrastructure in Pittsburgh. The region should be able to compete with anyplace in the world if it harnesses the nearly free energy. The knuckle dragger jobs (so prized by Gov. Granholm) and local advances of metallurgical sciences at Carnegie-Mellon and at Rand will make that western Pa. stagnant economy boom despite having all of the silly frou-frou from “organic” neighborhoods, excellent public transit and like.

    Moreover, I like to believe what I see, not what surveys by vested interest assert. Advertisers and state officials allege that the “Pure Michigan” campaign is some sort of panacea. As my wife and I drove along the NY State thruway from Syracuse to Buffalo last month, I counted the number of out of state license plates. At least 30% were from visitors to that state. Here in Michigan, maybe 15% are from out of state. One cannot help but conclude that that ad campaign does not attract much in the way of tourism.

    The State of Michigan and politicians constantly try to “improve” the economy and “help” people. Despite the billions wasted, there is no evidence that urban renewal, new urbanism, campaigns to help stimulate tourism, free university education to prepare kids for jobs as English majors and the like have any beneficial impact.

    One of the few hopes for Michiganders to prosper lies in using our natural resources. Hopefully there will be some fossil fuels under that middle aged woods.

    1. Susan Pankhurst Wheadon

      It would be wonderful too if we would get the infrastructure for renewable energy. There are a lot of jobs that can be had in solar and wind. I hope that eventually Michigan and the United States will catch up to that possibility. In the meantime it alarms me that so much water is used, and chemicals (some of which are harmful). A lot of people are concerned about the long-term consequences and it is evident that there have already been many. I am hoping that we will elect people who understand the science of what we are doing to our environment. What I have seen so far is that our air, water, health, safety and quality of life will be affected long-term. Short term economic fixes just don’t make much sense to me and more and more people are agreeing. And climate change has proven to be a reality so we really need to move away from fossil fuels for that reason alone. I am thinking of my children and grandchildren. I was really surprised at the comment made by the Sierra Club. Other Sierra Club members that I know do not agree with this.

  4. Charles Richards

    Mr. French says, “What is under question: Does allowing drilling anywhere on state land mean drilling should be allowed everywhere?” I fail to see there is a connection between the two. Why not just apply the normal standards and procedures on a case by case basis?

    Mr. French either has a very short memory, or has an unfortunate tendency to compartmentalize. Just a couple of days ago he wrote a column about the plight of poor people in Michigan. He properly quotes Mr. Roberson of the Sierra Club as saying, ““There’s no doubt we get benefits from oil and gas drilling, Like or not, oil and gas provide a lot of jobs in Michigan. It would be politically difficult to say, we’re just done with that.” It’s all very well to sing the praises of 400 year old white pines and the peaceful serenity of a state park, but it is important to focus on the choice between those values and the desperately needed jobs that would do more than any government program to promote the welfare of Michigan’s citizens. He agrees, that with slant drilling, there is a very small expectation of significant damage to the state park. And, while it is true that a drilling rig close to the park’s boundary would disrupt the park’s peace and quiet, that would be for a limited time of a few weeks or, at most, a few months. So, it comes down to the choice of ruining the park experience for a few people, or providing much needed jobs and economic activity.

    Certainly, it is perfectly legitimate for a nature lover to choose an unsullied experience over economic benefits to somebody else, but they should explicitly acknowledge the opportunity cost of that experience.

    1. Ron French

      Hi Charles, thanks for reading. The story about the challenges of low-income families in rural northern Michigan was written by Pat Shellenbarger, with a minor contribution from me. That being said, I’m a little unclear on the disconnect you see between an article in Bridge about rural Michigan’s poor, and an article letting people know that the ground underneath one of the state’s most popular parks may be leased for mineral rights. That’s the debate, isn’t it? How best to balance potential economic benefit vs. potential environmental damage. I’m not sure that economics wins that debate in every situation, and I’m not sure the environment wins in every situation, either. That’s why it’s important to have the debate, and that debate doesn’t happen if the public doesn’t know there’s a debate to weigh in on.
      I agree with you that we should apply normal standards and procedures to determine where drilling (and leasing of mineral rights) should be allowed. The question the leasing of ground underneath the virgin pines raises, is the question of whether anyplace should be excluded even if there is no current scientific basis for blocking it? Should the land under the state Capitol be allowed to be leased for oil and gas exploration? How about under Mackinac Island? Maybe the answer is yes, it should be allowed. I suggest it’s a good debate to have.

      1. Charles Richards

        My apologies about confusing you with Pat Shellenbarger. You are absolutely right when you say that the crucial question is ” How best to balance potential economic benefit vs. potential environmental damage.” My point was that the article did not sharply focus on the nature of the tradeoff between the two. Too often, journalists set forth the benefits and costs of a given issue, but do not focus on the degree of costs versus benefits. People need to know how the costs compare to the benefits. They should be compelled to specify how much cost would be excessive for a given benefit. Those opposed to drilling under the white pines should be prepared to say how many new jobs would make such drilling acceptable. Similarly, those who favor such drilling should be prepared to say how much environmental degradation would be excessive for the number of jobs created. Only then, has either side made a significant statement about the issue.

        People, by and large, are uncomfortable with acknowledging the opportunity costs of any decision. Desiring to think well of themselves, they prefer to think of their choices as black and white, slam-dunk decisions with no downside. That may make them comfortable, and enable them to sleep well at night, but does not make for wise, thoughtful public policy decisions. It is, after all, stressful to try to think through the second and third order consequences of a decision. That comfort and ease may have been gained at the expense of human welfare.

        Every choice has a downside, an opportunity cost. People should be presented with a schedule of costs for a given benefit (or schedule of benefits for a given cost) and invited to choose the highest cost they find acceptable for that benefit. Instead, journalists present the points in favor of both sides (something that does not differ in any material respect from competing Pepsi an Coca Cola commercials.) rather than setting forth the relationship between the two sets of favorable points. That is, how much of one good thing must you give up to secure so much of the other good thing. Journalists seldom present issues in a significant, decidable form.

        You say, “The question the leasing of ground underneath the virgin pines raises, is the question of whether anyplace should be excluded even if there is no current scientific basis for blocking it?” Why would the location matter? If cost-benefit analysis favors drilling, then why not? The idea is to advance human welfare. Admittedly, these things are, in the end, a judgment call. But it is, or should be, the duty of journalists to make people think hard about issues.

  5. Linda Pierucki

    The whole scare-mongering theme has gotten old-fast. I live within 2 miles of over 20 active gas/oil wells, some within half a mile. Most are along the margins of a very valuable wetland area on the River Raisin. What can I hear? NOTHING-nada-not a thing! Actual drilling is over in about six weeks,then all that remains is a small pump that makes very little noise, is usually hidden from casual view and often carefully bermed so that it doesnt spoil a natural landscape. They will soon-or already have-start slant drilling under the lake I live on . . I would have no way of knowing without carefully checking their operations. There is no noise pollution, the eagles still fish on the lake and the fishermen and kayakers are here daily enjoying the solitude. There have been NO problems associated with the drilling except for some heavier-than-usual truck traffic. In fact, the only real problem on this lake was caused by the DNR raising our lake levels in order to facilitate a canoe livery which they will operate for profit! Altering the outflow of the lake at the dam has caused sediments to build up rapidly and will be a continuing problem for lakefront owners-one the DNR will NOT be willing to pay to correct. So, here at least, the DNR itself is a far bigger problem than the largest oil field in Southern Michigan!

    Oil and gas production is a vital part of our growing economy and is being done so carefully and meticulously that few even see the results of their development. But the DNR itself, having gained millions by leasing exploration lands, is out of control! If you want to start protesting, the DNR may be the more worthy target.

  6. bdk

    Drilling for oil of any kind in the middle of the world’s largest fresh water supply is like pissing in your own bowl. Anybody notice the earthquakes in Oklahoma?

  7. Ian

    Just turn the flint river into an oil pipeline. Might kill off the 3 eyed fish.

  8. blufox

    We won’t be happy until we have put every nook and cranny of this State at risk of pollution through spills and other accidents.

    4 years and the Kalamazoo River clean-up still isn’t done.

    It would be nice if the DNR wasn’t just another profit center for the State.

    Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

  9. EB

    I’ve lived within 25 miles of dozens of Antrim formation oil and gas wells. Problems are infrequent and short lived. There is noise and heavy trucks used during the drilling process, but that’s usually only a couple of weeks. Once drilled, the oil companies have started using submersed pumps and you can’t hear anything with these pumps, not even if you are standing next to the well head.

    The downside is leaks and fires. Above ground pipe fittings sometimes develop small leaks and some will stink when gas escapes. I recall one fire in the area big enough where the fire department got involved; the fire was contained within the well perimeter. That’s one incident in over 20 years of living in the area.

    If the DNR plays their role well and bargains for the least nuisance from the drilling and pumping operations, there should be few problems drilling miles beneath old trees and whatever problems come up should be short lived.

    There are old growth trees in many northern Michigan places besides Hartwick Pines, they’re just a bit more concentrated in this park. Woods and wells can and do coexist with few problems throughout the Antrim formation, which covers a huge area of northern Michigan woods.

    I’m not saying that oil and gas companies never screw up, because they do. However, on the whole, they’ve been responsible actors in northern Michigan and provide a lot of employment in an area that is unbelievably poor.

    1. Common Dreams Farmer

      Yes EB, Northern Michigan is so economically strapped. Just like the inner city of Detroit, the southside of Chicago, northern North Dakota (the parts where they aren’t drilling). And this list could go on and on. Bottom line, short-term drilling jobs will NEVER replace the long-term assistance jobs of placing, retro-fitting and maintaining alternative energy solutions.

  10. Neil

    The one thing I remember visiting Hartwick Pines and standing amidst the trees is the quiet. On week days the quiet would be replaced by the drilling noise. The appeal of Hartwick Pines would be gone.

  11. Duane

    I am not as intuitive as many who have commented. Simply saying something is possible really doesn’t help me understand what we should be concerned about, there is the possibility that a piece of space junk will fall to earth and strike me but the probability is so low that I have no concerns that would percipitate actions. So I would like to hear some people help me apreciate the risk (concequences X probability). I don’t need a specific number but at least something that relates it to risks I can understand, how does it compare to dying in a plane crash, being struck by lightening, etc.

    If we are talking about extracting gas or oil thousands of feet below the pines what is the nature of the risk and what are the potential consequences. I am want to be sure I am considering the same things as those with resistance to the oil and gas activities.

  12. jack pine

    Duane – Your comment gets to the heart of the matter, but exposes some serious concerns I have about achieving your reasonable goals. To me, they seem like the rational way a “good citizen” would look at the problem. What is really the risk?

    The trouble I have is that we are prevented from using good science to determine the actual risks. Congress has passed laws which prevent examining the specific contents of the fracking water as well as other restrictions which would naturally result in good science being done so that reasonable people like you could make your own decision.

    That is what bugs me about the whole thing. Nobody – EPA, Mi DNR, concerned 3rd parties… nobody can see what is really going into the ground and what the by-products are. By law, we are prevented from examining it.

    So, I feel like I am dealing with people who have something to hide since we are prevented from sitting down like rational people and looking at the facts.

    1. Duane

      Jack,

      I would suggest we start by simply listing all of the possible risks that we, the public, can envision associated with the drilling. The next step is doing a logical assessment of the risks ranking them best guess at relative impact and then start looking for the inforamtion already available.

      For example if a risk was poisioning the roots of the trees we might ask how deep below the roots the drilling will be, how large of an area maybe impacted (for fracking how big of a volume will be fractured, how close to the surface will it go, what are the soil structure between fracking and the tree roots, etc.) and assign this a number from 1-5 with 1 being that it will happen and 5 being the laws o fnature will prevent it from happening. With these we the public could create an index that would not require us to wait for the ‘experts’ to decide if the benefits out weighed the risks.

      I would be interested in how the ‘experts’ would view this and why.

  13. Paul DeJohn

    I’m familiar with a stretch on the North branch of the AuSable River at Dam 2, known locally as Doc Leacock’s. As a young man I swam, dove, and fished in the large pool below the the dam, and in its day was a super haven for Brook Trout. 50 years later, after extensive oil drilling in the area, the camp is reduced to a ruin, and the stream and pool was gradually “silted” in from oil well drilling runoff, and now no longer the pristine river it once was. All in the name of progress, right? I take exception to the “Hoo Haas” toting the benefit of new drilling in the area. What is $300,000 in today’s economy? It’s “Doo Doo” in the grand scheme of progress for Michigan.

    1. Common Dreams Farmer

      Thank you Paul for an objective, observational response. Seems highly needed here, due to all those folks that just haven’t done their homework on this subject.

  14. Jeff

    Perhaps a simple solution would be acceptable to everyone. Create a minimum isolation distance between the park and any drilling. A mile would be good. The noise would be minimal for the approximately two weeks it takes to drill a well. Any danger to the park would be close to zero. A well was drilled of the coast of England several years ago in which they directional drilled 5 miles back under a wildlife habitat on the coast. A mile or two directional is not that difficult for an oil rig to accomplish. Leases have to be secured before any activity related to drilling can commence. They may very well lease the property, run some seismic lines over it and find nothing.

  15. Kate

    I worked here educating the public about protecting our land for 7 years, this would be a slap in the face to all those who educate and care about our environment. Don’t use “more jobs” as a scapegoat for negatively impacting natural areas which were donated to the state to PROTECT. Find a better way to give jobs to our state besides ruining one of the last pristine areas of wilderness in the LP left. There is far more of value here than just our white pines. A nearly completely unspoiled wetland is located on this land. Almost no no native invasive plant species, rare flowers including four species of orchids protected by law not to mention the mammals, and amazing bird species that call this home and rely on this rare environment. Go pick on somebody us. Leave my park alone……

    1. Duane

      Kate,

      Do you believe in evolution? If so species are pushed out by other species, the pines weren’t the first trees in that area. Nature is built on benefit balancing risk.

      1. Charles Richards

        Duane, you are absolutely dead on when you say “Nature is built on benefit balancing risk.”

  16. Mark And Tina Hansen

    If there is oil & gas under the Pines, drill it. Wont hurt a thing, and the Fractiuring will not hurt anything either.

    1. Common Dreams Farmer

      Wow, Mark & Tina have REALLY done their homework on this subject. Yes, go ahead drill, frac our way into the future… have you seen the video of the Enbridge pipeline that runs through the straits Mackinac?! A rusting, foundation unstable, disaster just waiting to happen that was installed around 1954!!! Lest we forget that it was Enbridge that created the scenario for the biggest oil leak Michigan ever experienced, in the Kalamazoo River.

  17. Billie

    Fracturing doesnt hurt? Tell that to the people who own property near fractured wells who cannot sell because their holdings arent worth a 3rd of what they were before drilling and fracturing commenced. Slowly our forests are dwindling, over logging and other demands on the land are killing what was to have sustained us for years and years and years!! I do not agree that this should be allowed in state forested areas! For the lady who said it Hartwick pines was on lake Huron, I think you were confused by the “Huron National Forest”, the two are not in the same.

  18. Ginger

    Leave Hartwick Pines alone, please! Any why won’t the person behind the company be named? That just makes this whole situation more questionable. Just please leave this very special part of God’s kingdom alone.

  19. brenda Redding

    Why would we do this? To make money for someone. Some future generation is going to need oil and many of the resources we take out of the Earth, while we, with little concern for future use, or conservation allow it. Future generations will be left high and dry and the resources will be used up by wasteful and unnecessary drilling, no conservation, fueled by money grabbers.

  20. MxnWhoWalks

    The article says the only impact on Hartwick Pines if drilling goes on beneath the surface is the sound. I beg to differ. The water table and the infrastructure of fungi and rock and sand and waters and gases are all affected by the patently unsustainable practice of gas extraction. We have renewable resources that we should be developing and natural resources that deserve protection, for the sake of our air and quality of life.

  21. Kyle

    Don’t come near the Au Sable, Manistee, etc. Michigan has some of the best rivers in the Midwest and these need to be protected to the fullest degree. Go kill the environment somewhere else.

  22. John S.

    I suppose that most people would be o.k. with the auction and subsequent drilling if it occurred sufficiently far away from the park so that there was minimal or no noise. The state is behind in developing regulations for off-shore wind power. No energy source is without its environmental problems, but with atmospheric CO2 at 400 ppm and rising it’s time to develop and use renewable energy and cut down sharply on the use of fossil fuels. The country, unfortunately, seems to be headed in exactly the opposite direction (shale oil and gas), with little or no thought given to the future. In economic jargon, the market prices of fossil fuels do not reflect the social costs of pollution and other negative externalities, resulting in overproduction and overconsumption. Externalities are a source of market failure.

  23. Colleen

    There are other places to exploit. No piece of Hartwick Pines should be for sale, whether above, below, or in-between. The State of Michigan should stop selling its soul.

  24. Ruth

    There have been asthetics argument for and against this. I am against this because there is no guarantee that ground water will NEVER be affected. This applies not only to the wells near here, it applies to the ground water that supports those wells AND THE TREES!! For goodness sake these are the only virgin stand left in MI! Why would we want to jeopardize the trees or the citizens living near and in the park? And saying it may never come to drilling here is like saying ” You have a ton of money burried here in this place. And we’re gonna give these ex-bank robbers the permission at some later time, to explore from outside the park and decide if its worth digging for it. Craziness! I would vote resoundingly NO to this if it were brought to a vote.

  25. Vince

    In the 1960 & 70s there was a lot of dispute and court battles about drilling in the Pigeon River State Forest. The dispute took years to settle. It finally did and the drilling happened. All of the things that the so called ecology experts said were going to happen (it will deplete the elk and deer habitat, polute the water, etc) NEVER HAPPENED! in fact The animals have actually thrived from the grass planted on pipelines and old well sites. These sites were actually located within the forest itself, unlike the Hartwick pines drilling proposal which will drill in from properties outside of the forest! Don’t get me started on all the false rumor spreaders concerning fracking! There has never been any proven water polution in Michigan and they have been doing it for years!
    People should be more concerned about the use of of the royalty and lease funds and what the state is using them for! This money should be going towards tax relief and the schools like Alaska! Instead this money is being used to purchase lands that are currently on the tax rolls to increase the size of state forests etc! In Northern Michigan they are purchasing large pieces of private properties and resorts, removing all the buildings and closing the roads so all people can’t get to the lakes and streams!
    Funds like the Kammer land Trust fund ( where royalties go) are being spent by a selected group of people to purchase these lands. This puts a hardship on a lot of local townships and schools by reducing their tax base. We need better roads and schools, NOT MORE PROPERTY!!!

  26. Larry W.

    The area has virgin forest and should remain undisturbed. No water or noise pollution should be allowed to destroy the park’s serenity. Leave it alone, please.

  27. Heather

    Fracking requires vast amount of water for the process. MI is a gold mine to the oil companies and they send moles to every public meeting. Once our water is poisoned everyone who sold out should be held accountable but I say we do it beforehand. Our public land should not be raffled off to the highest bidder when it truly belong to us. I heard the heart breaking tale of a GM retiree who’s land he planned on retiring too was drilled and labeled as a “hazardous site”. His insurance company dropped him and well, even when he tried to sell who would purchase this place with this in the disclosure? Not I.

    1. Vince

      Heather, Where is the story about this GM Employee’s land… Is is fact or is it another “story” invented by the anti frackers??
      I have searched the internet for it and found nothing. Please don’t be a RUMOR spreader!

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.