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DNR Expresses Concerns Over Limestone Mine Site Sale

Six Department of Natural Resources division heads are rejecting a proposed land deal in the eastern Upper Peninsula that would be the largest public land sale in state history.

The six sent the recommendation to DNR Director Keith Creagh opposing the sale of more than 10,000 acres of public surface lands or mineral rights to the Canadian company Graymont to build a limestone mine in northern Mackinac County near the town of Rexton.

The division chiefs say there is merit in continuing to develop limestone mining in the U-P but the application is large and complex, and more time is needed to resolve outstanding issues. They also say that there needs to be more public comment, and more consultation with local tribal governments.

Graymont has sent a revised application to the D-N-R, and officials say they believe concerns over the plan can be worked out through further negotiations.

The proposal seeks to exchange more than 1,700 acres of state-owned minerals under the Hiawatha National Forest in Chippewa County for 1,700 acres of Graymont-owned minerals under state-owned lands in northern Mackinac County.

Under the application, Graymont would pay the state 18.75 cents for each ton of extracted limestone. Those royalties would be deposited into the State Parks Endowment Fund.

The DNR will hold a public meeting on the proposal on January 28th at 6:00 p.m. at the Tahquamenon Area Schools in Newberry.

Creagh’s decision is to be announced at the February 12th meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Lansing.

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