GRAYLING -- Outdoors and environmental groups are opposing a plan to drill a 2-mile-deep gas and oil well under the Mason Tract, a 3,000-acre stretch of forest along the South Branch of the Au Sable River that was to remain forever wild after it was donated to the state in 1956. "This is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard of," said Rusty Gates, owner of the Au Sable Lodge on the main branch of the Au Sable. "They're proposing to destroy the things that people go to the Mason Tract for." Read the complete story here at the Freep
Don't let this happen!!! Your thoughts and Comments to the Forest Service may be sent to the District Ranger, U.S. Forest Service, 401 Court St., Mio 48647.
Rusty Gates added this recently ---
My favorite saying these days is "I'm making new friends!". We're all over the exploratory gas well proposed just off the Mason Tract, near the South Branch. Resource folks don't hear from trout fishermen much, but mess with our sacred waters and we make the Sierra Club look like pikers. Your letters and calls have gotten their attention. That was round one.
We're looking for more time on this issue. A more detailed Federal environmental review process may be in order before any occupancy permit is issued to the driller. This should also allow for some alternatives to surface. Let's just say the Forest Service took allot for granted in putting out it's scoping document.
The drive into the proposed site is on a two track that is surrounded by eighty to ninety year old red pines. These would all come out with the trail becoming a fifty to sixty foot wide road. One hundred yards south of the "pad" is a ten acre dry lake bed of "sweet gale", which only grows in areas of tremendous surface year round water. North of the pad area, the terrain falls off as it heads towards the river, into some of the best wood***** and grouse habitat in the tract. Both east and west of the site are swampy wetlands.
The technology is there to drill miles away from this site, and still hit the bottom hole. Sure it costs more going in....but the potential environmental issues will be solved. Just moving the drilling pad back approximately a mile, to the east side of River Road, will take care of these issues. This was an option in 1990 when the review process began for drilling in a semi-wilderness area, managed for old growth forest.
The last time the state denied a drilling permit, the Nordhouse Dunes case, the driller was awarded a 90 million dollar settlement. If this exploratory well has to be drilled, it needs to be moved out of the river corridor. The recreational value of this tract needs to be protected.
Round two. Your input once again is a must. Please contact the folks that can make it happen. Our Governor....and the head of DEQ. Contact the environmental advisor to the governor, Dana Debel.....517 335-7856. Or at firstname.lastname@example.org Drop a dime, leave a message, urge her to get the well site moved east of River Road. I spoke with her this week....she is sharp as a tack and informed on this issue. She will take your voice to the Governor.
Head of DEQ Steven Chester is very important in this issue. It's worth a letter to him suggesting the same. He can be reached at email@example.com