Michigan acquires first half of Keweenaw Tip property
LANSING -- More than 3,000 acres of pristine wild habitat now belongs to
the people of Michigan, with 3,275 more acres to come next year, thanks to
one of the largest property transactions in the 25-year history of the Michigan
Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF). The land will be open to the public for
recreational activities, including hunting, fishing and hiking.
|This aerial view, looking northeast towards Keweenaw Point, shows the
protected Lake Superior shoreline and Schlatter Lake -- part of the acreage
that is now the property of the State of Michigan, thanks to the Michigan
Natural Resources Trust Fund and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Acting as
broker in purchasing the land from International Paper/ Lake Superior Land
Co., TNC, which purchased the land from International Paper in January,
transferred more than 3,000 acres of the total 6,275 acres to the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Feb. 8. (Photo © 2001
Michael Jordan, courtesy of the Mott Foundation.)
In a ceremony at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Upper
Peninsula Field Headquarters in Marquette, representatives of The Nature
Conservancy handed over "half a key to the Keweenaw" to DNR officials.
Participating in the event were Jim Ekdahl, Michigan DNR Upper Peninsula field
deputy; Nancy Douglas, Natural Resources Commission member; Tina Hall, TNC's U.P. director of Conservation Programs;
Dave Kluesner, regional public affairs manager for
International Paper; and Charlie Eshbach, local conservationist and community
"The true beneficiaries here are the people, plants and animals of
Michigan," said DNR Director K.L. Cool, who met with Helen Taylor,
state director of The Nature Conservancy-Michigan Chapter and Michigan Natural
Resources Commission members on Feb. 7 in Lansing. "The victory today is
for all of us, and for future generations."
Jeff Knoop, U.P. director of land protection for the TNC Michigan Chapter, was also present at the Feb. 7 meeting of the Commission in Lansing.
Cool approved the first part of the transaction that will ultimately result
in 6,275 acres protected forever and available to the public for recreational
activities. The MNRTF provides $12.5 million, covering the sale cost, while The
Nature Conservancy-Michigan Chapter will fundraise to cover $250,000 in related
interest charges (TNC's total contribution in interest will be about $400,000).
The Nature Conservancy acted as a third-party broker in the transaction, buying
it from International Paper's Lake Superior Land Company in January, 2002, and
holding it until this first reimbursement from the Trust Fund for 3,009.35 acres
this year, with the remaining acreage being transferred next year. The second
transaction will add 3,265.9 more acres when completed in 2003.
|Fish Cove, seen in this photo, and land at the
mouth of the Montreal River are among the parcels to be included
in the second transaction of 3,265.9 acres to be completed in
2003. ((Photo © 2001 Jeff Knoop of The Nature Conservancy)
Taylor called the transfer of property an historic event for Michigan
"The tip of the Keweenaw peninsula is truly one of the last great places
on Earth, and we're honored to play a role in its protection," Taylor said.
view large map to read details
|This map shows the new state acquisition of
land at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, adjacent state-owned
property and areas owned by The Nature Conservancy. (Map copyright
and courtesy The Nature Conservancy)
The new parcel includes: 5.5 miles of forested shoreline along Lake Superior,
five miles of the Montreal River (a top-ranked trout stream), stunning
waterfalls and parts of three sparkling glacial lakes. TNC has long identified
this area as a high priority for biodiversity protection because of its unique
ecological value. Some of the finest remaining examples of hardwood/boreal
forest communities left in the Keweenaw Peninsula are part of this parcel, along
with patterned peatlands (a unique wetland system), and cliffs overlooking Lake
The Natural Resources Trust Fund members voted unanimously in favor of the
acquisition, despite heavy competition from more than 220 other proposals. The
MNRTF receives its revenue from royalties generated by leasing of oil and gas on
state-owned land. Michigan was the first state in the country to start such a
"Michigan Oil And Gas Association members are proud to contribute to the
preservation and development of Michigan's natural resources, like the Keweenaw
Peninsula, through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund," said Frank
L. Mortl, president of the Michigan Oil And Gas Association.
"It's an especially appealing symmetry that the trust fund is using
revenue from non-renewable sources to protect an area once known as the largest
single source of copper in the western hemisphere," Taylor said.
"Today, the copper mines are mostly gone; but the natural beauty and
biodiversity remains, and will continue to remain forever."
The tip of the 60-mile Keweenaw Peninsula juts into Lake Superior so
dramatically that its finger-like extension can be seen distinctly from the
moon. Geologists date the peninsula to be at least one billion years old, with a
unique rugged landscape not seen anywhere else in the Great Lakes ecoregion. The
rocks of volcanic origin that comprise the peninsula provide a spectacular
diversity of plant and animal life, including more than 900 species of native
The newly protected land links nearly 2,500 acres already owned by the MDNR
and 1,500 acres owned by The Nature Conservancy to encompass 14 miles of
protected Lake Superior shoreline. Now, more than 10,000 acres will provide
habitat for species such as, bald eagles, bear and moose. The Keweenaw is
centralized within the Great Lakes flyways, serving as a stopover for thousands
of raptors -- including hawks, eagles, falcons and merlins. The area is also a
stopover site for migratory shore and songbirds as well as the tawny crescent, a
"When we began these negotiations last year, much of the land was staked
out in small parcels for splitting up and selling," Taylor said. "Not
only would this land have been lost for the people of Michigan, but also for the
unique diversity of plants and animals living there. Thank goodness we still
have it, and that we can enjoy this great place forever."
For more information on the land acquisition and more photos, read the Jan. 4, 2002, article, "IP/LSLC,
TNC close on first stage of Keweenaw land sale," and the Jan. 3, 2002 article,
"First closing on
Keweenaw land sale expected Jan. 3."
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