ALABASTER Twp. – In a move which could extend its operations for up to 75 more years, United States Gypsum Company (USG) is looking to purchase hundreds of acres of land, with mineral rights, adjacent to its existing gypsum quarry in Alabaster Township.

According to those from the company, the acquisition will enable USG’s continued investment in local operations to produce gypsum for a wide range of Michigan manufacturing and agricultural needs.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a press release on the matter, advising that the DNR has received an application proposing the sale of 580 acres of state forest land in Alabaster Township to USG.

The company has applied to purchase the state-managed property, located south of Tawas City. Gypsum, a mineral deposit composed of calcium, sulfur, oxygen and water, is abundant in the area, according to the DNR. Once refined, it is used to make products such as plaster and drywall.

“The DNR will carefully consider this land transaction proposal, especially the ecological and economic impact, and provide ample opportunity for public input,” said Bill O’Neill, DNR natural resources deputy director.

“USG’s decision to try to purchase additional mining land from the State of Michigan is really good news for Alabaster Township, Iosco County and the region!” expressed Alabaster Township Supervisor Stephanie Wentworth.

“USG has been an employer and taxpayer here for over 11 decades. The taxes they have paid, and will pay,  support critical public needs, such as schools, public safety, infrastructure and much more,” according to Wentworth.

“For example, in 2015 they granted Alabaster Township an easement over their property for the completion of the township’s very popular bike path,” she noted.

“This proposed acquisition of the state land will keep USG’s Alabaster quarry supplying gypsum to the state and region for decades to come. This means that they will continue to be a local employer and a taxpayer. U.S. Gypsum and Alabaster Township have developed a mutually beneficial relationship and the township looks forward to many more decades,” Wentworth stated.

“The company has, to my eye, voluntarily met or exceeded environmental and reclamation requirements in the area they have mined after 1964. They are an award winning good steward of the environment,” she added.

USG recently hosted a tour of the Alabaster facility, which was attended by Wentworth, State Sen. Jim Stamas, local and county officials, Iosco County Road Commission staff and more.

According to USG, the demand for gypsum is increasing with the return of construction markets and overall economic expansion around the country. Having a reliable, steady supply of gypsum is important to the dozens of industries and hundreds of companies USG serves in Michigan. It is also noted in the tour information that gypsum is a very safe mineral, and its removal involves a mechanical process which does not use chemicals or create pollution.

When removal of gypsum deposits is complete, the areas are restored to create wetlands, lakes, prairies and forests. USG says it adheres to responsible quarry practices, including full reclamation of the land back to its natural state. When a gypsum quarry is closed, USG backfills the earth, creates a natural landscape, plants native trees and welcomes wildlife into the space.

USG is already reclaiming more than 100 acres of its existing Alabaster quarry with habitat creation and enhancement, timber management and control of invasive species.

USG has listed several reasons why the proposal should be supported, saying it will accomplish the following:

  • Keep a historic Michigan company invested and working in Michigan.
  •  Maintain the state’s supply of gypsum – a key building block for the economy.
  • Put 580 acres of land back on regular tax rolls to support needed local public services and schools.
  • Support the local, regional  and state economy.
  • Meet the state of Michigan’s goal of supporting and strengthening the resource-based economy.

According to the USG website, the quarry in Alabaster has operated for more than 150 years and is one of the state’s oldest and most successful businesses.

The Alabaster quarry was one of the first locations which joined United States Gypsum Company when it was founded in 1902. Today, it remains one of only three original locations which have operated continuously for the past century and is a valued part of USG Corporation, which is United States Gypsum Company’s parent company.

(Jenny Haglund, iosconews.com)

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