16 Feb Keweenaw Recreation Enthusiasts Unite- “A Call to Action”
Written by KAC Owner, Sam Raymond
… an amazing (if not once in a lifetime) opportunity…
As one with a lifelong connection to the Keweenaw Peninsula, one of the pioneers to Copper Harbor’s renowned mountain bike trail system and owner of Keweenaw Adventure Company for over two decades, I wish to share with you an amazing (if not once in a lifetime) opportunity to secure permanent, public land access for year round, outdoor recreation in Keweenaw County with a CALL-TO-ACTION!
Explained by the Keweenaw Outdoor Recreation Coalition (KORC):
“Each year citizens have the right to recommend land to be purchased by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the public through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund…. Right now you can help the DNR expand the Keweenaw Tip Recreation Area… to help the DNR add over 15,800 acres!”
… strongly support this incredible opportunity of land acquisition while it still exists…
I strongly support this incredible opportunity of land acquisition while it still exists and encourage all Keweenaw recreation enthusiasts to unite and answer KORC’s CALL-TO-ACTION!
… simple act of submitting a Nomination for Land Acquisition Form…
Essentially, with the simple act of submitting a Nomination for Land Acquisition Form your voice can be a part of history-in-the-making here with this CALL-TO-ACTION!
A Bit of Backstory on the Keweenaw Peninsula…
Located on Michigan’s “top of the world”, the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula could be literally and figuratively be portrayed as Michigan State’s crown jewel. Composed of some of the oldest exposed rock in the world as a result of ancient lava flows, this land continues to hold a great significance as it has throughout the ages. Its mountainous, rocky, rugged terrain surrounded on three sides by the world’s largest fresh-water sea, Lake Superior, create an undeniable sense of place that is today enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Long before the Europeans arrived, the presence of “float copper” was mined in the Keweenaw by native peoples nearly 7000 years ago. They dug pits in the ground and used heavy stones to separate the copper from the waste rocks. Malleable in its purest form, the native people were able to create ornaments, tools, fishhooks and other items for trade and objects made of Keweenaw copper have been found in sites across the Americas and beyond.
Shortly after Michigan was admitted to Statehood in 1837, Douglass Houghton was appointed as the first State Geologist and was assigned to conduct a state geological survey. In short, Houghton’s 1840 published report describes the Keweenaw’s copper deposits and despite his appeal for caution, a land rush soon started by opportunists attempting to acquire the copper-rich real estate. Speculators and miners lured by the possibility to get rich quick made their way north to the wilderness to stake their claims. The tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula was home to the first established mines in the area and Copper Harbor was for a short period of time a “boom town”.
Over time, the mines near the tip of the Keweenaw ran their course and Copper Harbor went from boom to bust, though the tiny berg was eventually reinvigorated with the advent of motor car tourism at the end of WWII and into the 1950’s, and tourism today is Keweenaw County’s principal industry.
Today’s Significance of Keweenaw Recreation…
Fast forward to the twenty first century and Copper Harbor could once again be considered as a “boom town” being driven by recreational tourism. Its “nowhere is somewhere” sentiment has proven to attract visitors from across the Midwest and beyond as a year round, outdoor recreation destination. Copper Harbor is now home to an internationally recognized mountain bike trail system, a premier snowmobile trail system and evolving ATV trail network which are all intermixed with numerous opportunities for activities such as hiking, camping, paddling, birding, berry picking, XC skiing, snowshoeing, snow biking, dark sky gazing, fishing and hunting.
The vast majority of land near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula was once owned by the mining companies. Through a progression of ownership changes over the past century, most of this land remains undeveloped and uninhabited and has afforded access for all to enjoy throughout the years. Currently owned by TRG Resources (a hedge fund), they are a willing seller looking to divest much of their holdings in northern Keweenaw County. There is now what could be considered the last great opportunity for the State to acquire significant acreage to expand upon its existing property near Keweenaw Point to secure permanent public access and trail and wildlife corridors for the benefit of future generations.
This unique part not just of Michigan, but of the world, has a tremendous story to share on so many levels and is deserving of being protected – such acquisition could result to something on the scale of the legendary Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It would help to sustain the future economy of Copper Harbor, the greater Keweenaw Peninsula and Upper Peninsula as a whole and would exemplify “Pure Michigan” in its most literal form in helping to attract visitors from across the country and beyond to this special place.
Without such large scale acquisition, the land is at risk of being parceled off to a multitude of private owners…motorized and non-motorized trail systems that fuel the regional economy and critical habitat for sustaining the area’s rich ecosystem could be fragmented and lost forever.
Reiteration for “CALL TO ACTION”…
CALL-TO-ACTION! … Make your mark on history today.