Michigan Chapter: 101 East Grand River · Lansing, MI 48906-4348 - Website: nature.org/michigan · Email: email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Melissa Soule, Communications Director
Sept. 10, 2003 (517) 316-2268 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip of the Keweenaw Belongs to People of Michigan
Nature Conservancy and State of Michigan Transaction Now Completed
COPPER HARBOR, Mich. — At the northernmost tip of mainland Michigan, 6,275 rugged, wild and beautiful acres will now belong to the people of Michigan now that an historic transaction between The Nature Conservancy and the State of Michigan was completed and marked with a celebratory event here today.
The newly protected land links with property already owned by The Nature Conservancy and the state for a total of 11,104 acres and 13 miles of shoreline protected for wildlife habitat and also open to the public for hunting, fishing and hiking. The land contains more than 900 species of flora, including rare plant species such as the alpine bistort, pale Indian paintbrush and calypso orchid. It also is an important flyway stopover site in the Great Lakes region for thousands of raptors including the bald eagle, broadwing hawk, merline and peregrine falcon. Home to black bears and wolves, the land could also provide habitat for moose, whose numbers are declining in the Upper Peninsula.
The Nature Conservancy acted as a third-party broker in the transaction, buying the entire acreage from International Paper’s Lake Superior Land Company, and holding it until being reimbursed over two years from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. That funding covered the sale cost of $12.5 million, with The Nature Conservancy contributing $400,000 in interest and related costs. The trust fund receives its revenue from royalties generated by leasing of oil and gas on state-owned land.
"It’s especially appealing symmetry that the trust fund is using revenue from non-renewable sources to protect an area once known as the largest single source of copper in the western hemisphere," said Helen Taylor, state director for the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. "Today, the copper mines are mostly gone, but the natural beauty and biodiversity remains, and will continue to remain here forever."
The newly purchased parcel includes: 5.5 miles of forested shoreline along Lake Superior, five miles of the Montreal River (a top-ranked trout stream), stunning waterfalls and three inland lakes—Schlatter, Hoar and Copper. This area has long been identified by The Nature Conservancy as a high priority for biodiversity protection because of its unique ecological value. Some of the finest remaining examples of hardwood/boreal forest communities left in the Keweenaw are part of this parcel, along with patterned peatlands (a unique wetland system) and cliffs overlooking Lake Superior.
"When we began these negotiations almost three years ago, much of the land was staked out in small parcels for splitting up and selling," Taylor said. "Not only would this land have been lost for the people of Michigan, but also for the unique diversity of plants and animals living there. Thank goodness we still have it, and we can enjoy this last great place forever."
The tip of the 60-mile Keweenaw Peninsula juts into Lake Superior so dramatically that its finger-like extension can be seen distinctly from the moon. Geologists date the peninsula to be at least one billion years old, with a unique rugged landscape not seen anywhere else in the Great Lakes ecoregion.
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Nature Conservancy counts at least 1 million members worldwide, including more than 32,000 in Michigan. The Conservancy and its members have protected more than 80 million acres on Earth, including more than 73,000 acres in Michigan. The Nature Conservancy embraces a non-confrontational, market-based approach for accomplishing its science-driven mission.
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