The Nature Conservancy holds public meeting on Keweenaw Heartlands purchase at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

A public meeting was held Wednesday night in Copper Harbor about a major land deal.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 12:15 AM EST
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COPPER HARBOR, Mich. (WLUC) - A public meeting on the purchase of the Keweenaw Heartlands by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was held Wednesday evening.

The event was hosted at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor.

The TNC purchased several parcels of the land for $27,200,000 from The Rohatyn Group in October. They then purchased the remaining acreage with the help of a third-party last month.

TNC officials held a presentation detailing the purchase and their goal to work with the community to maintain the land and find a suitable public owner.

They also discussed their intent to undertake an ecological and cultural inventory of the land over the course of 2023.

“There’s much we don’t know about these lands,” said TNC Michigan State Director Helen Taylor. “And we want to inventory cultural and ecologically significant sites so that we can ensure that as we transition these lands, we have the proper safety nets and protections in place so that we don’t inadvertently allow the development of things like trails on top of things that shouldn’t have trails there. So, we’re inviting the input of the community because the community knows these lands far better than we do, and so that process will involve all kinds of data gathering, interviews, surveys, etc.”

The TNC also answered attendees’ questions and concerns, ranging from light pollution to trail maintenance.

Additionally, it was announced that the TNC is looking to hire two Keweenaw-based staff members to assist with the process.

“One would be to help us manage and maintain access in the roads,” continued Taylor. “And one is to be our project manager and our voice on the ground to be able to answer any questions and participate in the planning processes that are underway.”

A planning committee of 20 community members met before the meeting to discuss different forms of governance to assure the balanced use of the land. According to Taylor, the committee is made up of members with many different interests to better represent the public.

“Their focus is to help develop a community vision and governance structure that anticipates how these lands will be owned and managed into the future,” added Taylor. “This was a great day for them to look at many different government structures to see what pieces they think are good and how we can piece together something that works here.”

To follow the project’s progress and for additional information, visit the project’s page by clicking here.