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U.S. Gypsum Proposal Discussed at July 17 Public Meeting
Michigan Ag Connection - 07/11/2018

A public meeting to discuss a proposal from United States Gypsum Company to acquire state-owned land and mineral rights in Iosco County and the subsequent recommendation on the proposal from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is slated for July 17. The meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Alabaster Township Hall, located at 1716 US-23 in Tawas City.

At the meeting, DNR staff members will provide an overview of the proposal submitted by United States Gypsum, which includes a total of 580 acres of state-owned land and mineral rights, along with an additional 140 acres of just mineral rights underlying land currently owned by the company. The meeting will also include a summary of the process by which the DNR reviews such proposals, including how both land and mineral values are determined, as well as information on the recommendation that has been made to DNR Director Keith Creagh.

Following the presentation, the public will have the opportunity to ask questions and to provide both written and oral comments on the proposal and the recommendation. A summary of these comments will be provided to the DNR director for his consideration as he deliberates his decision on the proposal. It is expected that the director will likely make a final decision on the proposal at the Sept. 13 Natural Resources Commission meeting. "Public involvement and the feedback that the DNR receives throughout the process are critical to ensuring a thorough review of the proposal," said Bill O'Neill, DNR natural resources deputy director. "As with all of the resources that the DNR is responsible for, the land and minerals involved in this proposal are owned by the citizens of Michigan. We need their input in order to make a well-informed decision."

The DNR staff recommendation that will be under consideration by Director Creagh includes the approval of the proposed land and mineral acquisition by United States Gypsum, with the proceeds of the sale being directed toward the acquisition of the 2,140-acre Storey Lake property located in Otsego and Cheboygan counties.

Strategically located as the link between the Pigeon River Country State Forest and state forest land in the Gaylord Forest Management Unit, the Storey Lake property has long been a top acquisition priority for the DNR. In addition to its ideal location, the Storey Lake property includes over a mile of Stewart Creek, a brook trout stream tributary of the Sturgeon River; the entirety of the 8-acre Storey Lake; abundant wildlife habitat, including location in the core of Michigan's elk range; numerous public recreational opportunities, including direct access to the North Central State Trail along the western boundary of the property; and the opportunity to sustainably manage the forest.

In December 2017 the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund awarded the DNR 25 percent of the required funding for the project. The proceeds from the United States Gypsum Company proposal would provide the remainder of the necessary funding.

Both the USG proposal and additional detailed information on the Storey Lake project can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2MZwgQA.

Aside from the public meeting in Tawas City, interested members of the public can also provide comments on the USG proposal and DNR staff recommendation via email at DNR-USGYPSUM-Comments@michigan.gov. Comments will be accepted until a final decision on the proposal is made.

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