LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — State Natural Resources officials are discussing a plan to acquire a tract of land used for mining at Ludington State Park in western Michigan.
The land is owned by Sargent Sand Company and has been mined since before the popular park, west of Grand Rapids, was established.
The Department of Natural Resources general management plans calls for recreational facilities to be built around a small inland lake that was created by sand dredging operations.
"Sargent is currently in active discussions with the DNR regarding the property and fulfillment of the state park's management plan goals," Phil Johnson, an environmental consultant and spokesman for Sargent Sand, confirmed to MLive.com (http://bit.ly/2dVKv94 ).
Specifics of the potential deal aren't known, according to MLive.com.
Historically, Sargent's sand has been used primarily for making steel, automotive glass and for traction on snowy roads. But more recently, oil and gas companies have been using Sargent's sand in the hydraulic fracturing process. Sargent's five-year operating permit with the state expires at the end of this year.
Area residents and environmental groups are opposed to Sargent's relationship with the oil and gas industry. Others are just tired of the noise made by the mine conveyors.
Dune preservationists like Linda Bergles-Daul are saddened by the changing landscape due to the mining.
"There were dunes here and we're not going to get them back. They're gone," said Bergles-Daul, who owns a nearby cottage with her husband, Ron.
Others are hopeful the two sides can make a deal.
"There are uses for this land that would go on for hundreds of years that would bring in far more revenue, not just to the state but in particular the local community, than Sargent is going to get operating the mine another 20 years," area resident Albert Henning said.
Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com