TRG proposes land swap with state in northern Keweenaw Co.

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Eric Stier, a representative of TRG, which was formerly GMO, discussed an idea of a land swap with the Keweenaw County Board that was first floated in the late 1990s.

EAGLE RIVER — A TRG representative discussed an idea with the Keweenaw County Board at the August regular meeting that had been originally discussed in the late 1990s.

The idea then, and is now, the possibility of a land swap between TRG, formerly GMO, and the state of Michigan. The swap would involve commercial forest land in Keweenaw County for lands elsewhere in the Upper Peninsula. Potentially, that could include everything north of U.S. 41, comprising from 4,000 to 30,000 acres, he said.

Eric Stier, a Keweenaw County resident, said he was addressing the board as a representative of TRG. The Rohatyn Group (“TRG”) is a specialized asset management firm that focuses on emerging markets. TRG completed its acquisition of GMO Renewable Resources, LLC Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC in December, 2017.

Stier said the land swap idea was first brought up between 1997 and 1999, and involved the entire tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Unfortunately, he said, the topic was brought up at the wrong time.

“That all happened at the time of the Bete Gris-south discussion,” said Stier, “and that drew so much attention that I think this idea had merit at that time, and would have more support had it not been for the other controversy that was going on.”

Stier said the proposal is not necessarily about making money for TRG at this point.

“If you trade value-for-value, and that’s the idea, value-for-value, that got distorted last time. There was the idea that it was acre for acre, and that really is not the intent, and it wasn’t last time, either.”

When asked why the proposal was being introduced now, Stier said that while the discussion was back-burnered in 1999, he has not forgotten about it.

“I’ve been slowly creeping this idea forward for two years, talking with people, some people within the DNR,” Stier said. “I gotta quit talking about it, and come to come to people that really are the decision makers, so honestly, there is no hidden agenda, the income side is — we’re tasked with the asset.”

The intent of the proposal is not to increase a value-for-value asset, but it is a concern of liability, Stier said.

“People are using the (Keweenaw) Point, and we know they are,” he said. And can you keep people off there? No. So that discussion goes on. It’s a heavily used property, so I’d rather it be in ownership.”

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