Land Use Issues
The economic boom of the 1990′s spurred a rash of second homes and recreational development in the Keweenaw. Much of the Keweenaw was owned by International Paper (IP), the last in a long list of successors to the original copper mining companies. With rising land values IP started to dispose of lakeshore land the public has long freely used. Much of this lakeshore land not only has great scenic and recreational value but is also unique volcanic bedrock
Saving the Keweenaw’s South Shore
A campaign led by the coalition called Public Access Keweenaw resulted in the sale from IP to the State of Michigan of 6,000 acres and over 5 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. This spectacular coast has rocky cliffs, a variety of beaches, and rare plants. The inland lake and river frontage also included made this the best Keweenaw land news in years. A state land purchase in 2002 preserved more than 4,000 acres of former IP land for public use, on the southeast tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.Here’s a current map of state land in eastern Keweenaw County.
Conservation Priority Areas
FOLK has always believed that education is essential to conserving the Keweenaw’s unique resources. In 1999 FOLK used grant money from the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Fund to spotlight conservation priority areas in the Keweenaw identified by the Michigan DNR Natural Features Inventory. The website project called Keweenaw Threatened – Keweenaw Preserved drew public attention to several scenic lakeshore areas with rare plants and natural communities. In the few years since, most of these areas were protected: Seven Mile Point, more of the Horseshoe Harbor lakeshore, and the Fish Cove – South Shore area. While others like the Hunter’s Point – Devils Washtub lakeshore have been sold for development, efforts continue to make this development as compatible with natural values as possible.
FOLK was spotlighted with front page news for its July 4th, 1999 Lake Superior Shoreline Awareness Day at Bete Grise, when we focused attention on the spectacular water quality, scenic beauty, and rare wetlands found at this unique Great Lakes wetland. FOLK was active in a public hearing and letter writing campaign to oppose a road-building permit that would have seen the entire beach developed. That effort culminated in the Department of Environmental Quality denial of the permit. The Stewards of Bete Grise website has a map of currently protected lands and lands targeted for protection.