Keweenaw Tip 6,000 Acre Purchase Approved

Keweenaw Issues: Keweenaw Land Use Forum: Keweenaw Tip 6,000 Acre Purchase Approved
Michele Anderson on Thursday, September 13, 2001 - 05:52 am:

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund approves Keweenaw Tip purchase; DNR to receive funding over two-year period

LANSING Ė The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board approved today, Sept. 12, 2001, a $12.5 million grant for a state purchase of about 6,000 acres at the Tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Trust Fund Board approved $5 million to be awarded this year and $7.5 million from next yearís awards for the Keweenaw Tip proposal, according to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spokesperson.

"They had so many good projects that they wanted to try and fund as many as possible," said Steve De Brabander, forest land administrator for the DNR Forest, Mineral and Fire Management Division (formerly the Forest Management Division). "Thatís why they didnít commit the whole $12.5 million this year, but they did commit (that total) over a two-year period."

De Brabander put the grant application together after consulting with DNR experts Jim Hammill, wildlife biologist and expert on endangered and threatened species, both flora and fauna; Marty Nelson, forester; and Vern Nurenberg, fisheries.

Speaking for DNR staff, De Brabander said, "Weíre pleased and definitely supportive of it and certainly think it was a good decision."

De Brabander had noted in July that the Keweenaw Tip proposal had a good chance of being funded because the Trust Fund gives priority to lands that increase opportunities for hunting, wildlife protection, fishing opportunities, protection of threatened and endangered species and unique habitats. In addition to providing habitat for several bird species, the Keweenaw Tip is an important flyway for migrating raptors and a stop-over site for neo-tropical migrants. The acreage includes the mouth of the Montreal River and five miles upstream, several inland lakes and about four miles of Lake Superior shoreline. The area is also known for its unique natural features, including basalt bedrock lakeshore and Michiganís only area of coastal rhyolite.

While the Trust Fund Board originally planned to make their funding recommendations at a special meeting on October 3, they and the Grants Administration staff decided to move it up almost a month, De Brabander added. Their recommendations go into a bill that must be passed by the legislature and signed by Michigan Governor John Engler.

Walt Arnold, director of marketing and sales for International Paper/Lake Superior Land Co., reacted positively to the decision. IP/LSLC has been negotiating with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which will act as a broker in the purchase until the DNR obtains the funding.

"It sounds like good news," Arnold said on Sept. 12. "We have a strong interest in working with TNC to help the state acquire this property. If we did not have an interest in making this happen, a lot of it would be gone by now."

Arnold said he didnít know how the two-year funding would affect TNCís proposal to purchase the land and hold it for the state. He did express concern as to whether the state would put conditions on the sale agreement. An example of a "condition" might be the cost of taking the lands out of Commercial Forest Act (CFA) designation. Arnold noted the acreage was appraised under CFA.

"Conditions are a concern because theyíre requests or demands that would affect the valuation of the property," Arnold explained.

Jeff Knoop, TNC director of land protection for the Upper Peninsula, said on Sept. 12 that the Trust Fund decision was "a bit of good news in an otherwise chaotic world!"

Knoop said he wasnít sure yet how the two-year funding would affect the actual cost to TNC.

"Thatís something weíre going to have to negotiate," he said. "That hasnít been worked out. We donít want to pay too much interest."

Knoop noted also that the appraisal ordered by TNC was $8 million for the property.

"Before the state buys any property they have their own (DNR) appraisal reviewer review the appraisals," Knoop explained. "Heís reviewed both the appraisals but still has to talk to the two appraisers."

Both Knoop and Arnold were optimistic about the negotiations for finalizing the land purchase.

Said Arnold, "As long as people are reasonable, itíll get done."

Knoop added, "Iím pretty confident weíll be able to work out some kind of equitable deal."

Authorís note: We were not able to find out details on the other proposals selected for funding since, as of Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 12), the press release was awaiting the Governorís approval. However, the Trust Fund Board gave Steve De Brabander permission to release this news. See the Detroit Free Press article of Sept. 10, 2001. for details on another proposal that competed with the Keweenaw Tip for Trust Fund grant money.

Ė Michele Anderson
September 12, 2001

By Charlie Hopper on Thursday, September 13, 2001 - 06:08 am:

We have received numerous inquiries about the reporting of Michele Anderson, Editor of the former Keweenaw Today. Email her if you would like to see such in-depth online reporting continue.

Charlie Hopper
Still Waters / Pasty Central / PastyNET

By Charles Buck on Monday, September 17, 2001 - 11:54 am:

The Grand Traverse County Petobego land proposal, the other major proposal (458 acres for $6.8-million) considered by the trust fund board last week, was approved by the board, according to a trust fund official I spoke to. This undoubtedly is what lead to the splitting of the funding for the Keweenaw proposal over two years.

Land development north of Traverse City along the US31 corridor has been accelerating the past few years. For a while it peetered out after the Grand Traverse Resort went up in Acme, but golf courses and subdivisions recently began devouring cherry orchards further up the highway. There is a great deal of fighting at the township level between new and established landowners over access rights to water frontage for new residents who build away from the water up by the highway, so called "keyholing". Keyholing is where a developer of several lots with homes off the waterfront will try to get them collective water access rights thro' a waterfront lot the developer also owns, usually a sliver which is too small to build a home on.

To established waterfront owners, keyholing is a more intensive land use than a private single dwelling and is the same as putting in a public park. Established waterfront owners usually have access to their lots over a small private road owned jointly by a neighborhood association. Keyholing potentially increases traffic on the private road and creates parking problems on and around the small keyholed lot. More intensive use of a waterfront lot could also threaten the fragile environment. Most of the waterfront north of Acme is a sandy beach backed up by a wooded bluff, in some cases quite high. The bluff consists of nothing more than hard clay covered by a thin patina of humis and dirt for trees and plants to cling to. During high water periods, waves threaten this thin patina which dislodges, trees and all, and crashes down into the water and washes away. Keyholing can weaken and accelerate erosion of the soil covering the bluff. The Petobego land in the trust fund proposal is waterfront lowland and swamp without a fragile high bluff. Hopefully the addition of this land will solve two problems. It will establish a green area along the highway free from quikie marts and golf carts, and it will give new non-waterfront subdivision residents an alternative to keyholing along the bluff.

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