Elk, Oil and the Environment

Elk, Oil and the Environment (HM27BK)

Location: Gaylord, MI 49735 Otsego County
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Country: United States of America
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N 45° 1.632', W 84° 40.584'

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Michigan Legal Milestones

During the 1970s, the Pigeon River Country State Forest - home to the only substantial wild elk herd east of the Mississippi River - was the scene of one of the longest, most controversial environmental battles in Michigan history. As the largest piece of undeveloped state-owned property in the Lower Peninsula (covering portions of Otsego, Cheboygan and Montmorency counties), the forest sits on huge reserves of oil and natural gas.

At a time when fuel shortages were causing long lines at gas pumps, oil companies were eager to explore and drill in the 91,000-acre forest. In 1970 the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) gave any person or organization the right to sue to protect natural resources.
Concerned citizens and environmentalists, emboldened by MEPA, banded together to halt drilling for oil and natural gas in the forest, claiming it would harm wildlife, especially the elk.

For almost 10 years, the two sides engaged in a series of lawsuits, consent orders, legislation and compromises. A 1979 landmark Michigan Supreme Court case (West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Inc. v Natural Resources Commission) not only provided guidance on the type of harm that will justify MEPA relief in Michigan but also eventually led to an extraordinary agreement between state government, the oil

industry and environmental groups. It allowed tightly regulated drilling in the southern one-third of the forest under the watchful eye of the Pigeon River Advisory Council.

Decades later the forest has yielded valuable gas and oil reserves while the elk herd has continued to grow.
Not only did the Pigeon River dispute set standards for future oil drilling in Michigan, it became a national and international model for resource management.

Placed by the State Bar of Michigan and
the 46th Circuit Bar Association
June 9, 2010
HM NumberHM27BK
Year Placed2010
Placed ByState Bar of Michigan and the 46th Circuit Bar Association
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 683048 N 4988598
Decimal Degrees45.02720000, -84.67640000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 45° 1.632', W 84° 40.584'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds45° 1' 37.92" N, 84° 40' 35.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)989, 231
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 225 M-32, Gaylord MI 49735, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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