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DNR tree seedling project needs gravel mining done first. Some residents are adamantly opposed.

pxfuel/creative commons

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a controversial plan to expand its Tree Improvement Center in Livingston County.

That's where the DNR plants seedlings for reforestation, and conducts research on diseases that hurt Michigan trees.

The DNR's Jason Hartman said the expansion is slated for two parcels the agency recently acquired near Brighton, but the land is very hilly and must be leveled, and the gravel on the land has to be removed first.

Hartman said a gravel company could remove the gravel fast — in three years, or take longer — up to nine years.

"The quicker you do this project the more intense it would be," said Hartman. "So there's a balance."

There is a former dump near the site, with monitoring wells for polluted groundwater. Hartman said the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has indicated the gravel mine will not disturb the plume of contaminated groundwater.

He said there is opposition to the mine by nearby residents, but also some support.

"There's a lot of people that get it," said Hartman. "They're not happy about it being in their backyard, but they understand we manage for the citizens of the entire state, so that we have to consider that in light of the impacts on the community."

The DNR will hold a public hearing on the plan at Brighton High School at 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 12.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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