Pure Michigan vs Pure Greed at Hartwick Pines

Hartwick Pines by Jenny Murray

Untitled, photo by Jenny Murray

Hartwick Pines State Park – which is in my opinion one of Michigan’s coolest parks – would be opened to slant drilling if the proposal by oil & gas interests on the table is accepted by the DNR. Bridge Magazine has a feature titled Oil lease proposed under 400-year-old virgin pines that begins:

About 9,700 acres of Hartwick Pines State Park and surrounding land near Grayling are on a list of parcels nominated by oil and gas companies for lease of mineral rights. The lease of those parcels, which include the largest remaining old growth white pine trees south of the Mackinac Bridge as well as the rest of one of Michigan’s most popular parks, is likely to be included in a Department of Natural Resources auction Oct. 29.

No development would be allowed on the ground surface. But the leases open the possibility of slant or horizontal drilling under trees that have grown since the first Europeans stepped foot in the region.
While mineral exploration deep below the surface isn’t likely to harm the trees, the possibility of drilling raises concerns about the boom of oil rigs at a beloved state park, and is symbolic of the occasional tension in the state between business interests and Pure Michigan.

“There are some special places in the state that oil and gas development should not be happening,” said Jack Schmitt, deputy director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters. “And Hartwick Pines is one of them.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is accepting public comments on its decision to lease mineral rights in Hartwick Pines State Park through September 5th.

The Michigan LCV has established a petition if you want to weigh in. They note that Hartwick Pines is home to some of the few forests that were protected from Michigan’s logging boom and holds the largest contiguous stand of old-growth white pine in the Lower Peninsula. The park is also home to the East Branch of the legendary Au Sable River, a blue-ribbon trout stream.

Thanks to Jenny for bringing this to my attention. View her photo bigger and see more of her diptychs right here.

The Monarch and Hartwick Pines

Logging Era Grayling MI Monster Hartwick Michigan White Pine called the Monarch RPPC 1942 at the Memorial Park prior to Hartwick becoming a State Park

Logging Era Grayling MI Monster Hartwick Michigan White Pine, photo by UpNorth Memories – Donald (Don) Harrison

This Friday, April 26th is Arbor Day, and I thought it would be nice to take a look what is probably the most famous trees in Michigan’s history and the place where it once grew, Hartwick Pines State Park. In 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased over 8,000 acres of land that included 85 acres of old growth white pine from the Salling-Hanson Company of Grayling. Mrs. Hartwick was a daughter of  a founding partner of the logging company and shortly after the purchase, she donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial park named for her husband, the late Major Edward E. Hartwick of Grayling. A nice article from the Toledo Blade about Hartwick Pines explains:

This is Hartwick Pines, the largest stand of “old growth” forest in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Here, white pines, red pines and hemlocks ladder their way 160 feet to the sky.

…There are approximately 24,000 trees in the Hartwick Pines old growth grove today, but not all are “old growth” trees. Lightning and wind claim a few of the old trees each year, and they are replaced with a mixture of hardwoods and pines.

A large hemlock near the parking lot was recently damaged by a storm and had to be removed. Its stump showed 365 annual rings. The most famous tree at Hartwick Pines — The Monarch — lost its crown in a 1992 storm and then died four years later. It was 155 feet tall when healthy, with a circumference of 12 feet and an estimated age of 325 years.

Read on and learn more about Hartwick Pines from the State of Michigan.

See this big as the Monarch and jump in to Don’s slideshow of postcards for more vintage scenes from Hartwick Pines!

PS: The Monarch was a white pine, Michigan’s State Tree.