July 2004 News
Keweenaw Point Committee tour with DNR leads to recommendations
ALLOUEZ, COPPER HARBOR -- High Rock Bay, Fish Cove, Schlatter's Lake, the Mouth of the Montreal, Hoar Lake and the Mandan Road have greater meaning now for the Keweenaw Point Advisory Committee (KPAC) members who took a tour of the area with Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) personnel on June 12, 2004.
|Setting out on June 12 from Copper Harbor and the end of U.S. 41, members of the Keweenaw Point Advisory Committee rode in five DNR vans on the Mandan Road and then on the road to High Rock Bay -- a sometimes bumpy ride over ruts and through mud and water, considerably deep in some spots.
(Photo © 2004 Dana Richter)
KPAC is working with DNR staff from Marquette and Baraga
to plan management of the state's recent Keweenaw Tip purchase of 6,275 acres
for conservation, public access and recreation. Committee members
represent a variety of interests, including local government, logging, motorized
and non-motorized trails and sports, habitat protection, historical preservation,
conservation groups and sportsmen.
The next KPAC meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at the
Mohawk School gymnasium, 3rd Street, Mohawk. (The place has been changed for
this meeting only since the Allouez Community Center will be used for voting.) This will be the eighth
meeting of the group, which has been meeting with DNR staff monthly since
After the first six meetings of discussions, exchanging points of view and
establishing planning priorities, the June tour offered committee members an
opportunity for on-site discussion of roads and
trails, potential and actual campsites, future parking areas and protection of
minimum impact areas. This led to the committee's first official recommendations
to the DNR during their July 6 meeting in Allouez.
While some members of the group -- like Charles Eshbach of the Michigan Nature Association and Don Kauppi of Copper Harbor -- were already familiar with the area from many years of exploring it, those touring the Keweenaw Tip area for the first time were seeing names on a map come alive.
|During the group's stop at High Rock Bay, Don Kauppi,
Keweenaw Tourism Council trail director, second from right, talks about stream crossings and recycled materials used for culverts.
Also pictured, from left, are Ron Yesney, DNR Western Upper Peninsula recreation
specialist; Sam Raymond, representing silent sports;
Friederike Greuer, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition; Charlie Eshbach,
Michigan Nature Association; Lee Verberkmoes, Fort Wilkins State Park
supervisor (behind Kauppi); and Don Keith, Keweenaw County
commissioner. (Photo © 2004 Michele Anderson)
Eshbach, who represents the Michigan Nature Association on the committee, said he definitely thought the tour was very helpful for several committee members.
"It kind of cemented what we've been talking about at our meetings and convinced them of the sensitivity of some of these areas," he said after the July 6 meeting of the group in Allouez. "We can't just -- in a broad stroke -- say what we're going to do with these areas, because within these areas are endangered plants and rare habitat. We have to plan individual sites so that people don't impact the sensitive sites on their way to a campground."
Warren Suchowsky of the Michigan Timbermen's Association said that before the
tour he had visited some sites with Bill Deephouse, KPAC chair, and on his own as well, but appreciated the opportunity to tour more of the area with the committee and the DNR personnel.
"The tour really helped because we went to the Montreal area, and I hadn't been there yet," Suchowsky said, noting he now plans to hike up the river. "The variety of viewpoints also helped."
|Falls at the Mouth of the Montreal River. On June 12,
2004, KPAC members hiked to this spot with DNR staff to discuss how
public access to the site should be managed. (Photo © Dana Richter.
Reprinted with permission.)
Friederike Greuer, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, said, "I
feel that I've just scratched the surface and there is a lot more to learn about
The purpose of the trip was to give the committee members a chance to discuss possible future management decisions with the DNR personnel who have been meeting with them:
Marty Nelson, DNR Baraga unit manager; Ron Yesney, DNR Western Upper Peninsula recreation
specialist; and Debbie Begalle, DNR Western Upper Peninsula district supervisor.
Helping out with the driving were Jason Mittlestat, assistant area forester from the Baraga DNR office, and Tom Proulx, Baraga DNR fire officer. Lee Verberkmoes, Fort Wilkins supervisor, also accompanied the group.
"We're getting more information," Deephouse said
after the tour. "It's just so valuable now that we're all able to speak
the same language because we've been able to see some of the places on the
ground and some of the problems that arise from unregulated use."
Deephouse also explained that the area would eventually be a working forest
for the DNR.
"This means roads are going to have to be maintained," he said.
"The idea that we're going to close off all the roads, or access to
vehicles, is not going to happen."
Nelson said he thought the tour helped everyone.
"It gave all of us an idea of the use that the area gets. The tour also gave everyone the same frame of reference in terms of what the road system looks like, what the lakes and streams look like and what the timber looks like. I think it will help the committee when they start to make recommendations for the ownership."
|Marty Nelson, DNR Baraga unit manager, right, and Debbie Begalle, DNR Western Upper Peninsula district
supervisor (Forest, Mineral and Fire Management Division, or FMFM), listen to KPAC members' suggestions for potential public
access facilities at High Rock Bay. (Photo © 2004 Michele Anderson.)
Yesney said the tour gave the DNR
some "very valuable input" from the committee members.
Committee approves road recommendations at July 6 meeting
In fact, the July 6 KPAC meeting proved the committee was ready to start making
official recommendations to the DNR staff. Deephouse presented a list of recommendations dealing mostly with roads, stream crossings,
parking areas, shoreline protection and signage. (See page 2 for a summary of the
Committee members had received a handout, "First Priority: Minimum Impact Zones" to be considered before making recommendations on roads, trails, campgrounds and other uses. Dana Richter of Copper Country Audubon prepared the document based on the following DNR definition of the Minimum Impact Zones in the Keweenaw Tip area: "The pristine shoreline, the Montreal River corridor, and some of the steep slopes on this tract appear to be sensitive natural areas. The committee will be asked to make recommendations on how to best manage and limit the use of these areas. There are also endangered species present in certain parts of the tract that will need to be discussed and
|During the June 12 KPAC tour, Dana Richter of Copper Country Audubon examines
a type of grape fern that had been accidentally dislodged by foot traffic in the trail.
described the fern as "relatively rare." (Photo ©
2004 Michele Anderson.)
"There needs to be compromise," Richter noted. "One form of recreation is not necessarily better than another. Protection of the land and habitat is the key to usage of the new state lands."
Based on the occurrence or potential occurrence of rare plants and habitat, as identified by Botanist Steve Chadde in his 2000 Natural Heritage Grants Program, Tip-of-the-Keweenaw Botanical Survey, several areas have been identified as Minimum Impact Zones, where motor vehicle use should be restricted and limitations on new roads established. These include all shorelines of Lake Superior and the west, south and east sides of Schlatter's
Lake**; Keweenaw Point Section 22; Keystone Bay and Keystone Point, Sections 20, 21 and 29; the large wetland and
shoreline in Sections 19, 30 and 25, Fish Cove and all of the southern shoreline; and the Mouth of the Montreal River, falls and shore to Smith Fisheries.
Since the July 6 meeting, Yesney
said several areas have been identified as potential minimum impact zones. The minimum impact zone boundaries and recommendations for use will discussed at a future KPAC meeting.
At High Rock Bay, the first stop on the tour, ORV (Off-Road Vehicle, also called ATV, All-Terrain Vehicle) tracks on the rocky beach and campfire remains quite close to the shore led to a discussion about ORV use, possible parking and camping sites.
Jeff Knoop of The Nature Conservancy pointed out that ATVs had recently made a trail through the Conservancy's Rocket Site property, which is not far from High Rock Bay.
"They cut trees to make the trail," he said.
At the July 6 meeting Knoop reported that Bob Kelly, who owns Section 10, reported damage from ATVs that have made a trail through his property. Apparently ATV users have made a loop through his property and TNC property to the High Rock road.
With its view of Manitou Island, High Rock Bay is a popular spot for camping or picnics.
|During the KPAC tour on June 12, Dana Richter
photographed this view of Manitou Island from High Rock Bay. Remains of
a campfire can be seen in the foreground (Photo © 2004 Dana
Richter. Reprinted with permission.)
High Rock is also a part of the Keweenaw Water Trail and popular with kayakers. Sam Raymond, owner of the Keweenaw Adventure Company in Copper Harbor, kayaks and bikes here often.
"I love it out here," Raymond said. "It's one of my favorite Keweenaw
At the July 6 meeting the group discussed the possibility of having a parking area and toilet facility about 200 yards from the shore at High Rock with a walking trail from there to the beach.
Don Kauppi, Keweenaw Tourism Council trail director, recommended having a primitive campsite at High Rock, to be located at a distance from the water. At the July 6 KPAC
meeting Kauppi noted the intention is to use existing roads as much as possible
On the way back to the Mandan Road, the group stopped and overlooked the large island in Schlatter's Lake. Several tents and quite a few people indicated a rather large group was camping on the island. Both motor boats and canoes were on the lake. These observations led to a discussion among the committee members about levels of use for this lake (which is about 400 acres in size) and its small island, which, as Eshbach pointed out, has some old white pine.
|A large group of visitors with motor boats camp on
Schlatter's Lake island. (Photo © 2004 Dana Richter. Reprinted with
"The island has an eagle's nest on it," Eshbach added.
The next stop was Fish Cove, which is considered a sensitive area, especially near the Lake Superior shoreline. The group drove to within a half mile of the shoreline and walked the rest of the way. Along the path, where the Michigan Nature Association had placed a berm to discourage ORVs from driving too close to the shore, tracks indicated the ORV users had made their own trail around it. Some members commented on endangered plants and use of the area.
|Dana Richter captured this view of Fish Cove, looking
west. The shoreline here is considered a minimum impact zone. (Photo © 2004 Dana Richter. Reprinted with
Next the group went north and walked along an old logging road and path to the mouth of the Montreal River.
They discussed the idea that some of the trail could be usable for a future hiking trail and public access.
The last stop was Hoar Lake. The group drove to the lake using the road on the east side. Some people were camping on the shore and fishing in the lake.
|At Hoar Lake KPAC members and DNR staff complete
their June 12 tour of Keweenaw sites. Pictured, from left, are Debbie
Begalle, DNR Western U.P. district supervisor; Charlie Eshbach, Michigan
Nature Association; Dana Richter, Copper Country Audubon; Marty Nelson, DNR Baraga unit
manager; Sam Raymond, silent sports; Ron Yesney, DNR Western U.P. recreation
specialist; (kneeling) Don Keith, Keweenaw County commissioner; Jeff
Knoop, The Nature Conservancy; Friederike Greuer, U.P. Environmental
Coalition (UPEC); Bill Deephouse, KPAC chair, Copper Country Trout
Unlimited; Warren Suchowsky, Michigan Timbermen's Association; Don
Kauppi, Keweenaw Tourism Council trail director. (Photo © 2004 Michele
Keweenaw County Commissioner Don Keith noted it was his first visit to Hoar
"I was very impressed with this lake," he said.
While committee members made comments on the road system throughout the tour, they did not seem to favor a dramatic improvement of the roads. On the other hand, it appeared that most people thought the stream crossings should be improved.
Local residents offer input, sign petitions
Several local residents have written to the committee to express their views on what they would like to see on this Keweenaw Tip state property. At least two citizen petitions have been circulated for presentation to the committee.
The first, signed by more than 500 local residents, was presented by Jim ("Reggie") Regis at the June 1st KPAC meeting. This petition requested allowing motorized traffic (including ATVs) on all existing roads and permitting public use of the tract as it is now being used, including selective logging by local contractors. Regis said at that meeting that he believed motorized vehicles are a boost to tourism, and will help the elderly and handicapped. He added that the DNR should allow camping, provide trash containers and dumpsters and collect waste.
"With the magnitude of 'Rules and Regulations' dictated to us by the
MDNR Hunting and Fishing Guides, there should be no additional regulations
imposed," the first petition states.
Yesney noted some of the signers had also called him to express their
"They just say basically they don't want it closed off," Yesney
said. "They want it left as is. Some of them say they understand the need
to keep some areas restricted, but they don't want to see any areas that are
currently being used shut down."
Another petition, which has been circulating among Keweenaw residents, requests preserving the most sensitive ecological areas of the tract and limiting human access to them; clearly defining areas for motorized and non-motorized use; ensuring that both motorized and self-powered enthusiasts can enjoy their chosen forms of recreation "in a manner that is respectful of the land, its animals and plants and fellow human visitors."
This petition also asks for enforcement of all Michigan State Forest Regulations that apply to ATVs, ORVs and highway licensed vehicles and requests monitoring usage and prosecuting violators. The signers also ask that environmental impact be used as the top priority for deciding whether to open any new areas for camping or motorized use or for closing current usage areas. They express also their wish for a consistent policy and enforcement regarding trash and human waste.
"The non-motorized folks are mostly opposed to ATVs, not necessarily
snowmobiling," Yesney explained. "Most of (these) letters point to
erosion and trespassing issues related to ATVs."
At the July 6 meeting several local residents made comments during the public
comment periods and after the meeting.
Chuck Brumleve of Grant Township said he realized there has to be compromise
between motorized and non-motorized uses, but he asked the committee to consider
limiting motorized traffic to the Mandan Road.
"I don't think keeping motorized traffic to the Mandan Road is
unreasonable," Brumleve said. "We don't need (motorized) spurs off
He asked the committee to keep in mind the intention of the people who put
this land aside for preservation and to take note of the accelerated development
going on all around this area.
Tom Fouts of Mohawk cautioned the committee about changing roads.
"A road that ends somewhere to somebody goes someplace -- to somebody
else," he said. "If the road is rough, leave it that way. If you fix
the roads too well, you're going to get too much access."
Al Gunnari of Mohawk, formerly a member of the Allouez Township Planning
Committee, said the July 6 meeting was the second KPAC meeting he had attended;
and he was impressed.
"I think Bill (Deephouse) and the whole committee are doing a great
job," Gunnari said. "They're definitely keeping all parties in mind
when they make recommendations. They're not just doing it for tree huggers.
People that believe this should come to the meetings and find out for themselves
what's being done at the meetings."
Janet Shea, vice-chair of the Keweenaw County Zoning/Planning Commission,
said she thought the committee seemed to be moving along really well now.
"All of the misconceptions have been cleared up, and they're in the
planning stage. I think it's very positive," Shea said.
Dick Storm interviews KPAC members
During an interview by Dick Storm of Tu-Mar Broadcasting, on his
"Copper Country Today" program Sunday, July 18, Deephouse, KPAC Committee chair, along with committee members Charlie Eshbach and Sam Raymond, discussed the conflicting opinions
regarding motorized vehicle use on the Keweenaw state land.
Eshbach noted the DNR is aware that "you have to separate those two user groups (motorized and non-motorized)." As far as enforcement of rules for the different types of usage, he said this is a process of education -- educating the users.
Deephouse added the public is encouraged to attend the meetings.
"We welcome any kind of input from the public," he said.
Eshbach expressed his confidence in the DNR staff, their professionalism and their ability to get the most out of their funds.
Deephouse said of Marty Nelson: "He's a good guy. He's one of the
The committee's recommendations have to be general, Eshbach explained during
Storm's interview. The DNR staff will take care of details.
**Michigan law already restricts ATVs and ORVs from beaches. Thus, the committee has discussed allowing access to beaches by foot and providing turn-around parking areas at beach entry points.
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