Nature Conservancy completes purchase of additional acreage in Keweenaw Peninsula

This is a recording of the TV6 Early News.
Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 11:44 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2022 at 7:50 PM EST
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KEWEENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced Thursday it has finalized the purchase of the remaining 9,769 acres in the Keweenaw Peninsula for.

The area is recognized by TNC as a global priority for both biodiversity and climate resiliency and an opportunity to protect an extraordinary region for both nature and people.

According to TNC, they’ve acquired more than 32,000 acres in the Keweenaw Peninsula, including the land’s mineral rights, trails and historical structures. The land will remain open to the public under the Michigan Commercial Forest Program and on community tax rolls.

In October, TNC announced an agreement with the Rohatyn Group (TRG) to purchase three parcels totaling 22,700 acres of land in the Keweenaw Peninsula for $27.2 million. However, the two sides could not reach an agreement on the fourth parcel. TNC says a conservation-minded buyer stepped in to purchase the remaining 9,769 acres from TRG and agreed to sell the land to TNC for $1.9 million.

“I want to sincerely thank the conservation buyer who saw the value in protecting this land and shared our vision for the Keweenaw Heartlands,” said Helen Taylor, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. “Protecting the Keweenaw Heartlands is a global priority for The Nature Conservancy, and I am thrilled we finalized this purchase so everyone can enjoy and appreciate these iconic lands and waters forever.”

Formed from one-billion-year-old lava flows and shaped by glacial ice and the waves of the largest freshwater lake in the world—Lake Superior—the Keweenaw Peninsula is one of the most unfragmented, climate-resilient forested and freshwater areas of the central United States.

The next step is for TNC to work with the community and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to determine the future management and uses of the land. This will be done with input and direction from a community stakeholder committee, made up of 17 community leaders including elected officials, tribal leaders and representatives from the outdoor recreation and tourism industries.

The group held its first meeting earlier this year and will reconvene Jan. 25 and 26. TNC will also hold a community informational meeting at 6:00 p.m. on January 25 at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge to provide an update to the public and answer questions.

“The local planning committee will serve an important role in the months and years ahead as the community charts a course for this land,” Taylor said. “This community-led approach has never been done before at TNC and is a rarity in land conservation. We’re excited to see the community’s vision take shape and encourage anyone who’s interested in learning more to attend the meeting in January.”

You can learn more about the local planning committee and its members at the Keweenaw Community Foundation’s Keweenaw Land Project website.

The planning discussions follow a nearly year-long, intensive community visioning process led by Rural Economic Success (RES) Associates’ John Molinaro. Over the past year, RES conducted nearly 60 one-on-one interviews with local leaders, conducted public meetings engaging more than 300 residents and received completed surveys from nearly 2,000 people to understand what they value most about this land.

According to Keweenaw County Board Chairman Don Piche, all ATV and hiking trails will remain publicly accessible during the TNC’s estimated three-to-five-year stewardship of the land.