REXTON, Mich. (AP) — The Rexton area, where forests and marshes stretch as far as the eye can see down rolling country roads, is the kind of place where you're likely to see a deer before you see a neighbor.
And now the few residents in the Upper Peninsula community are at a crossroads. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is considering the largest sale of state-managed forestland in its history here — about 10,000 acres — to Graymont, a British Columbia-based limestone mining company. It would be used to create a sprawling, 13,000-acre, open-pit and underground mining operation touching three U.P. counties — Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa.
Residents seem to agree that the Graymont proposal would change life as they know it. Whether it's a change for the better is what they're struggling with, according to the Detroit Free Press ( http://on.freep.com/QZCvGp ).
The prospect of a giant development coming to this bucolic area offers much to consider: conservationists who question whether the DNR has the authority to sell the land; the state hoping the project could provide a multimillion-dollar economic stimulus, and nervous residents — who would welcome the jobs — questioning the effects mining activities would have on their quality of life, groundwater and property values.
Retirees Kathy English and her husband, Al English, who live a few miles east of Rexton in nearby Trout Lake Township, said they came for the tranquil setting, all the state and federal forestland surrounding them, the lakes and all the outdoor activities the area offers.
"To us, having the area desecrated — if you've ever seen a mine area, it's like the moon; it's a vast wasteland," Kathy English said. "We don't want what we have spoiled. If they start mining by us, we're going to leave."