UP citizens form non-profit to stop industrial rocket launch site

Powell and Marquette Township residents are uniting against the planned Granot Loma site.
Renderings of potential vertical launch spaceport in Marquette County.
Renderings of potential vertical launch spaceport in Marquette County.(MAMA)
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 12:17 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Citizens for a Safe & Clean Lake Superior (CSCLS), a newly formed Michigan non-profit, is a broad coalition of Marquette County and U.P. citizens united against a proposal to construct a commercial rocket launch site on Lake Superior’s shoreline at Granot Loma in Powell Township.

After the Marquette County Board and aerospace lobbying firm, MAMA, announced the proposal, an online petition was started and CSCLS was formed in opposition.

“Central to citizens' concerns is the adverse impact the rocket launch site will have on the area’s outdoor recreational based economy, the danger to public safety, interference with vested property rights, and serious threat to the quality of life enjoyed by Powell and Marquette Township residents,” CSCLS said in a release.

According to Dennis Ferraro, President of CSCLS, “The plan to build the rocket launch site at Granot Loma is a major change from KI Sawyer Airport, the site previously publicized. With no transparency or public disclosure, launch promoters privately considered multiple locations on or near the shoreline in Marquette County, including Presque Isle dock, Little Presque Isle Park, and the Ford property in Big Bay; and, then, behind closed doors, decided on Granot Loma, but never advised the public until after-the-fact...With many other already developed launch sites elsewhere in the U.S., there is no compelling need to put another one in such an ecologically pristine area next to the largest surface area of fresh water on earth.”

Ferraro also noted “The speculative promise of ‘job creation’ supposedly ‘to keep people from leaving Marquette County,’ offered as bait for the Loma plan, is misleading, and simply a bad bargain.”  

CSCLS believes the population of Marquette County will continue to grow, even without the spaceport. The organization cited an April 2019 New York Times' report about it being a great location for climate change refugees, and a Reader’s Digest story from September 2020 about Marquette being a great up-and-coming-town on the waterfront and near forestland.

“But an industrial rocket launch site at Granot Loma would permanently change and damage the unique character of our Lake Superior coastline and impair the quality of life which fosters this sustainable economic growth,” CSCLS said in its release.

“The threat to public safety from a Loma launch site, including risk to human life from explosions and falling rockets parts, even requiring evacuation of nearby homes, was documented by the County Board’s hired consultant, Explorer Solutions, in a report kept secret for 11 months until a citizen FOIA request forced the County Board to release it," said Ferraro.

Ferraor said the consultant concluded by noting, “There is no provision in the pertinent zoning ordinance that would allow such a dangerous and destructive land use which would create a public and private nuisance, impair vested landowners' rights in Powell and Marquette Townships, and destroy the reasons people are drawn to our beautiful shoreline. We have done our homework, consulted with experts, hired legal representation and will fight, all the way, to defeat this bad plan.”

About Citizens for a Safe & Clean Lake Superior: The mission of Citizens for a Safe & Clean Lake Superior (CSCLS) is to protect and improve the precious environmental resource of the coastal habitat, shoreline and fresh water of Lake Superior and its watershed in Marquette County, to oppose individual, corporate or governmental action which may jeopardize that resource, and to encourage community action to preserve the quality of life provided by this Lake Superior Coastline environment for generations to come.  Contact us at

Information from a Press Release from CSCLS, 2020. Copyright 2020 WLUC. All rights reserved.