Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · A Billion Gallons of Water
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A Billion Gallons of Water

A project planned on a private hunting property in Kalkaska could push water use for Encana wells to over a billion gallons

Patrick Sullivan - September 23rd, 2013  

The Black River Conservation Association was formed in 1929 to preserve wildlife habitat.

For decades, the mission of the corporation remained committed to conservation and stewardship of hundreds of acres that the association’s membership could use for hunting and fishing, according to a review of Black River’s articles of incorporation.

The articles were amended in 1941 and the updated mission of the association was stated like this: “to acquire, hold, own, reforest and otherwise improve wild lands, and to conserve the game and wildlife thereon, and to use and enjoy said lands for outing purposes, ...; but no purpose of this corporation shall involve pecuniary gain or profit to its members or associates.”

Beginning in around 2009, the mission began to change.

The corporation purchased the mineral rights to its property from the state for over $100,000, state records show. The following year, the corporation entered an agreement with Energy West, and later Encana, to lease mineral rights for the purpose of natural gas hyrdaulic fracturing.

In December of that year, the Black River Conservation Association, a nonprofit corporation, became the Black River Association, a for-profit corporation.

The decades-old conservation association was now in the oil and gas business.


A filing with the Kalkaska County Register of Deeds shows the potential scale of the Encana project on Black River’s property could include the construction of two well pads, each with up to six horizontal fracturing wells. Currently, Encana only has permits for two wells on one pad, to be located just south of M-72 around 13 miles from Kalkaska and 10 miles from Grayling in Bear Creek Township.

Horizontal fracturing, or fracking, taps natural gas through wells drilled vertically into the ground and then horizontally into shale formations, breaking up rock with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release the gas.

The practice has drawn opposition from environmentalist due to, among other reasons, the vast amount of water the process requires.

According to the permits for the two wells that have been approved at Black River, these wells could require more water to drill than other wells in the region. The wells could each require over 35 million gallons of fresh water to drill; previous wells, including wells down M-72 in Excelsior and Oliver townships, stirred anger among environmentalists because they required roughly 25 million gallons.

Bridget Ford, an Encana spokeswoman, said the water use listed on the permit is only an estimate and the amount of water necessary for the Black River project could be lower.

“The estimates are higher than some of our previous wells and the laterals for these wells are longer than any we’ve drilled to date in Michigan,” Ford said. “We may adjust these totals once we’ve drilled the well, but as of right now that is our estimate.”


Paul Brady, an anti-facking activist who happens to live in Bear Creek Township, said the Black River project could increase the amount of water used for Encana projects in Northern Michigan to over a billion gallons.

That’s if the project grows to include all 12 wells described in the “untization agreement” and the amount of water projected on the first two applications is used for all 12 wells, and includes water that would be required for new wells planned in nearby Oliver and Excelsior townships.

“If you look at the water that is proposed for the Oliver expansion, the Excelisor expansion, and the new C4-24 well pad, between all of those, along with the Black River, we’re looking at a billion gallons. And this thing is just getting started.”

That is troubling to Brady because Encana does not have to pay the state for water it takes from the ground and much of the activity is located in the upper waters of the Manistee River watershed.

“Still, we have no cumulative impact water studies whatsoever. None,” he said.

State officials from the Department of Environmental Quality maintain that water usage is monitored and water withdrawals for horizontal fracking will not impact area watersheds.

“We take water use and protection very seriously in all of our operations,” Ford said. She said horizontal fracking wells produce the equivalent of 18 to 20 vertical wells, so the surface impact is smaller and the return is greater than from traditional wells.


Brady said another concern about the Black River project is the effect it could have on the character of Bear Creek Township, a wooded, rural setting of mostly far-apart homes and hunting cabins set deep in the woods.

Brady said he fears the Black River project could make part of the township feel industrial.

“The industrialization leads to a huge decline in property value,” Brady said. “We’ve seen that in other places. It only makes sense. Nobody wants to live next to an industrial site. No one wants to see it; no one wants to smell it.”

The Northern Express visited the area.

There is a strip of homes on M-72 not far from the first proposed well pad. Many of those homes are apparently seasonal homes. Several permanent residents who spoke with the Express said they had not heard about the natural gas drilling plans.

They also said they were not concerned about a natural gas drilling project going in across M-72, which is a noisy, busy state highway.


Ford said this project, like other Encana projects, is designed to minimize impacts to wildlife and the environment.

“I would like to say that’s our goal in every area we operate, of course,” Ford said.

She said the Black River Association helped select the surface locations and Encana agreed to only work on the site at certain times during the year to minimize impact on wildlife.

According to the permit, work is supposed to begin this fall or winter and construction is expected to take around nine months.

The land has been a long-time destination as a private hunting and fishing land, so its owners must have paid attention to the environmental impact the project would have on the land.

John Shull, a Grand Rapids man who is the spokesman for the Black River association, said he had no comment.

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09.24.2013 at 09:49 Reply

Tha's all right - We can create more water to replace what we're losing to Encana.  It says so in the Bible.


09.24.2013 at 09:50 Reply

Anyone who thinks the health of the land doesn't matter is gravely misinformed.  Ask Aldo Leopold.  How could anyone think this is acceptable?


09.24.2013 at 09:51 Reply

Anyone who thinks the health of the land doesn't matter is gravely misinformed.  Ask Aldo Leopold.  How could anyone think this is acceptable?