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Environment & Climate Change

DNR says drilling not OK under old growth forest

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The rights to drill under a landmark old-growth forest in northern Michigan are off the auction block.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creigh says the family that donated most of the land that makes up the Hartwick Pines state forest objected to allowing energy exploration under the pines.

“It was certainly a very generous gift from the family and, in my opinion, we needed to honor both the spirit and the legal requirements of the deed,” he said.

The decision does not mean that any reserves lying beneath the Hartwick Pines state forest are entirely off limits. That’s because energy exploration can still take place on adjacent private property. If a reserve is tapped, the state could try to recoup some revenue off the drilling.

The land near Grayling was donated in 1927. Some of the white pines in the forest are 400 years old, and 12 feet in circumference. It’s the largest old growth forest in the Lower Peninsula.