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      Hartwick Pines State Park may lease drilling rights

      Minerals under the Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County may be included in the DNRâ??s auction this October.

      A Northern Michigan state park has been getting a lot of calls about leasing out parts of land.

      Minerals under the Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County may be included in the DNR??s auction this October.

      The DNR has been holding auctions to lease out state land since the 1920's, and say there is no reason to be concerned about Hartwick Pines State Park.

      ??What it does is it protects the states interest in the minerals right below the surface, because if there is a well that is placed near the park that's on private land, that can pool and drain resources all from state,?? said DNR Forest Land Administrator, Kerry Wieber.

      The nomination is labeled as leasable, non-development, meaning the leasers cannot touch the surface of the park, only underneath.

      ??If we do not lease those minerals and someone else leases their mineral rights nearby than those minerals will likely be drained and we will not be compensated, so by leasing them that ensures that the state is compensated for that asset, for those mineral rights, while still protecting the surface,?? said Wieber.

      The Michigan League of Conservation Voters, however, is not convinced this park will benefit from being leased.

      ??We are not opposed unilaterally to oil and gas drilling on state lands,?? said Deputy Director Jack Schmitt. ??In fact, a lot of that oil and drilling has lead to significant resources in the natural resource trust fund that is invested right back into our natural resources. It's a great program, but there are certain places in Michigan that should be off limits and Hartwick Pines is one of them.??

      They say even though the surface of the park won??t be affected, park visitors?? experience will.

      ??Surrounding the park could be used and set up with oil wells that would drill directly under the park and with that comes increased traffic around the park, potentially harmful omissions, noise, all things that really impact their experience when they're visiting Hartwick Pines,?? said Schmitt.

      The DNR says that only about two thirds of the nominated parcels will get leased at the auction. Of those, even less will get rights to drill from the Department of Environmental Equality.

      The auction is being held on October 29th, and more than 163 thousand acres of state land will be auctioned for oil and gas leasing rights.