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E-M:/ ALERT - Proposed Wetlands Development on the KeweenawPeninsula

Enviro-Mich message from "Tony DeFalco" <defalco@nwf.org>

Posted on behalf of the Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK).

Press Release June 21, 1999

Keweenaw Shoreline Protection Sought in New initiative.

Contacts: FOLK president Linda Rulison 334 -2553, Bete Grise coordinator Debby Zwitter 487-2848 (day) 483-0106 (evening), science advisor Greg Kudray 387- 4259, FOLK fax 334-2888, 906 area code for all numbers.

The rocky shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula is a beautiful and popular area that is also home to numerous rare plants and unique ecological communities. But shoreline development in places like Bete Grise and
Seven-Mile Point are increasingly closing these areas to the public and threatening the destruction of habitat. Several stretches of lakeshore have been identified by the Michigan DNR Natural Features Inventory as priority
conservation areas that should receive permanent protection because of their beauty and unique habitat. The Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK), with
financial support from the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Protection Fund, has announced an aggressive initiative to educate the public about these unique shoreline habitats and to monitor the water quality changes associated with new development.

The FOLK Keweenaw initiative consists of three immediate actions:

  a.. A new web page www.portup.com/~folk/keweenaw, will highlight the Michigan DNR ranking of conservation priority lakeshore areas on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Lakeshore areas that are described include Bete Grise, Horseshoe Harbor, Devil's Washtub, Dan's Point, Fish Cove, and Seven-Mile Point.
  b.. Water quality testing will begin at Bete Grise, the site of a recent subdivision where lots have been sold but building has not yet begun. This area, a Michigan DNR Natural Features Inventory primary example of a Great Lakes marsh, has outstanding water clarity and quality and is also the home of rare plants, nesting eagles and loons. Lake Superior Land Company has proposed Bete Grise for extensive additional residential development. A public hearing for a development permit will be held on July 14th in Copper Harbor. The septic systems proposed for the development are required to be separated by only four feet of coarse beach sand from the water table. The water quality testing will consist of baseline data gathered this year (before any development has begun) followed by future annual monitoring if development continues.
  c.. FOLK will provide active support for a proposed land swap involving the Lake Superior Land Company and the State of Michigan. This trade, involving about 17,000 acres of the most spectacular land on the Keweenaw Peninsula, is complex and potentially unattractive to state officials because of the trade of state-owned revenue producing timberlands for the Keweenaw parcel.

FOLK president Linda Rulison says, " The Keweenaw contains some of the most spectacular shoreline in Michigan. We have the opportunity now to influence decisions that will either forever save this lakeshore for public use or allow habitat destruction for the benefit of a privileged few. We would like the public to be aware of the permanence of these decisions and the fact that they will be made within the next few years - with or without public input."

FOLK invites the public to a July 4th "Keweenaw Shoreline Awareness Day" at the Historic Mendota Lighthouse at Bete Grise. The beauty of Bete Grise and the rest of the Keweenaw's threatened shoreline will be celebrated with a lighthouse open house, environmental awareness activities, and other events.

Bete Gris Beach & Nearby Wetland Development Fact Sheet

Facts You Should Know

Land is currently owned by Champion subsidiary Lake Superior Land Co.

They recently applied for a permit to fill 850 feet of wetlands to develop
the Bete Grise shore.

What is so wrong with developing this land?

  a.. Loss of public access:
Spectacular Keweenaw shoreline areas like Seven-Mile Point are rapidly being subdivided and closed to public access. These areas are not only among the most scenic lakeshores in Michigan but are also home to unique ecological communities and rare plants.

  a.. A threat to the incredibly clear water quality of Bete Grise:
Development plans include a raised mound septic system that only has to be four feet above the water table. How much filtration will four feet of beach sand provide?

  a.. Bete Grise is a unique and irreplaceable natural resource:
The land behind the Bete Grise beach is a patterned wetland called a beach ridge/swale community. These rare wetlands were created when Lake Superior receded from higher water levels several thousand years ago. Filling
wetlands not only directly destroys wetlands but can also upset the hydrology of the entire wetland, altering it forever.

Breeding eagles and loons, rare birds protected by law, nest at Bete Grise. Two species of rare plants, marsh willow-herb and alternate-leaved water-milfoil, are also present.

Want to make your opinion known?

Public meeting concerning the development of the wetland will be held:

  a.. Date: Wednesday July 14, 1999
  b.. Time: 7:00 PM
  c.. Location: Mohawk School Early Childhood Center,       Mohawk, Michigan

To Send in Written Comments:

  a.. Closing Date for Comments: July 28, 1999
  b.. Send to: Land and Water Management Division
               Department of Environmental Quality
               1420 U.S. 2 West
               Crystal Falls, Michigan 49220

For more information about Bete Grise and other threatened Keweenaw shorelines see www.portup.com/~folk/keweenaw and attend the Keweenaw
Shoreline Awareness Celebration on July 4th, all day at the historic Mendota Lighthouse on Bete Grise.

Attention Homeowners on leased land nearby - development of this area may drastically increase the value of the land which your house sits on, potentially making it difficult to purchase the land later.

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