By DAN SANDERSON
Record-Eagle staff writer
GRAYLING - Grayling business owners and an area lawmaker are circulating petitions to fight plans to drill a gas well near the Mason Tract. Rep. Matt Gillard, D-Alpena, initiated a statewide petition drive targeting a plan by Traverse City-based Savoy Energy to drill an exploratory gas well near the Mason Tract on the South Branch of the AuSable River, regarded as one of the nation's premier trout streams.
"We just want to let people know down here in Lansing that it's not just me and a handful of people in Grayling that are screaming and hollering about this. There are a lot of other people that are concerned," Gillard said.
Savoy CEO Tom Pangborn was not available for comment on Tuesday, company officials said.
The Mason Tract includes 14 miles on the AuSable River that was given to the state by auto executive George Mason upon his death in 1954. The state has added to the original 1,300 acre donation, making it 4,500 acres of recreational land.
Copies of Gillard's Web-based petition drive IS NOW AVAILABLE at www.masontract.com . In addition, the petitions will be posted at the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau and businesses such as Spike's Keg O' Nails, a bar and restaurant in Grayling.
Savoy hopes to place the well near the river on federal land and slant drill two miles below the surface of the Mason Tract to extract oil and gas from leases obtained in 2000.
"The Mason Tract is an incredibly unique piece of land that we just have to save for our great-grandkids," said Victor Edwards, owner of Spike's Keg O' Nails.
Gillard plans to present the petitions to fellow lawmakers and the Department of Environmental Quality, which has until Oct. 21 to make a decision on Savoy's permit application.
Gillard also is seeking support for legislation he drafted that is patterned after the Pigeon River Hydrocarbon Development Plan created in 1980.
Under the legislation, the DEQ and Department of Natural Resources could create no-drilling zones in cooperation with citizen advisory groups in areas along the AuSable, Betsie, Black, Pigeon, Boardman, Jordan, Manistee and Thunder Bay rivers.
Gillard said the legislation would be introduced within the next week.
The Record-Eagle is a Traverse City based newspaper. They are online at http://www.record-eagle.com
ERIC SHARP: Drilling near Mason Tract is unnecessary, unwise
Mason Tract.com : Go there to sign the petition
Mason Tract DNR MAP : Map showing lease info and general area.
Articles Here About the Mason Tract
Drilling for Oil on the Mason Tract??A call to action.
Au Sable River South Branch - The Mason Tract ?Article about the joys of this Michigan jewel and some backround on its history
Note: The Mason Tract needs to be protected. Please take a moment to sign the web petition and send your voice to Lansing. Action is required right now. - Jeff Selser