• Background information

    Superior Solar Project, LLC and The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. (Cliffs) have submitted a land transaction application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, involving approximately 1,080 acres of land in Sands Township, Marquette County. The property is owned by Cliffs and is part of a larger land exchange agreement that occurred in 1979 between the DNR and Cliffs.

    The agreement requires that the land be open to the public for recreation uses, except for such areas used for active mining operations or areas that must be restricted for safety purposes.

    Superior Solar Project and Cliffs are requesting that the agreement be modified to allow solar development on the 1,080 acres and for the removal of the public recreation use requirement to allow for safe solar development and operations. Superior Solar Project is proposing to compensate the DNR for the loss of the public recreation rights on the property and will reroute the existing trails in the project area to enable continued use after project construction.

    The proposed solar project is a 150-megawatt solar farm, located in Sections 19, 20, 21, 28, 29 and 30 of Sands Township that will provide enough energy to power the equivalent of an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 homes per year. The total area of the solar farm is 2,472 acres, of which, 1,080 acres are subject to the public recreation agreement.

    Application review

    The DNR will conduct a review of the land transaction application to assess the value of the outdoor public recreation uses and compare that value to the potential public benefits of solar development.

    The review process, expected to take about six months to complete, will include reviews and recommendations from all land and resource-managing divisions of the DNR, which will culminate in a recommendation to the DNR's internal Land Exchange Review Committee, chaired by the natural resources deputy director.

    This committee will formulate a final recommendation to the DNR director, who will make a final decision on the proposal at a public meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

    Public input

    The public will have multiple opportunities to provide input on the proposal throughout the review process, including at the Natural Resources Commission meeting and at a public meeting held locally by the DNR.

    You may send public comments regarding the Superior Solar and Cleveland Cliffs proposal to: DNR-SUPERIORSOLAR-comments@michigan.gov.

    Documents

    The documents below provide additional information regarding the proposed transaction: