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Access Protection Project

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The initial scope

In 2016 Grant Township obtained a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) to purchase 94 acres of land at the heart of our trail system.  The land included scenic, forested acreage containing three miles of existing non-motorized, human-powered singletrack trail that provides contiguous access to Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, Keweenaw Point DNR lands, Grant Township's Hunter's Point Park, Keweenaw Mountain Lodge property, Michigan Nature Association's James Dorion Rooks Memorial Nature Sanctuary, and Brockway Mountain Drive.  Substantial match funds were raised by CHTC, its partners, and generous donors to save this key parcel and place it in the public trust.  Total cost for the purchase was estimated around $333,000.

A Change of plans

With the money in hand and a sale imminent, the once-willing landowners backed away from the deal and requested several times above the appraised price for their property.  Many attempts were made to renegotiate and bring the price down closer to something we could work with.  Unfortunately, Grant Township was not able to come to an agreement that would work for all parties.  Fearing our grant opportunity would be lost, Grant Township petitioned the MNRTF to allow us to go after an adjacent parcel that shared many of the attributes of the initial target.  While the total mileage of trails being protected would be lower, this would protect nearly double the amount of land (164.5 acres vs. 94 acres) to allow for future trail expansion.

A map showing the Copper Harbor Trails and land that is being acquired.

The original target parcel (north) is outlined above in dark red. The new target parcel (south) is outlined in purple.

The new target parcel contains the end of Dancing Bear and middle portion of Red Trail.  It is owned by TRG, a hedgefund that is more than willing to sell land for a fair price.  Once the MNRTF gave the thumbs-up to move forward with the alternate plan in late-2019, Grant Township set about completing all of our due dilligence for a second time.  Two appraisals had to be undertaken to reach a price that reflected all of the properties attributes fairly.  All the while, 2020's COVID delays slowed the project down significantly nearly every step of the way.

After many years of plodding forward, backwards, and forwards again, Grant Township was very nearly about to seal the deal once again. Unfortunately, in June 2021 TRG bundled all of their landholdings near Copper Harbor and put them up for sale, and the parcel is no longer available unless purchased as part of a 5,749 acre package. We hope that Grant Township is able to find an alternative parcel that fulfills the goals of the project.  

An Unexpected Setback

Despite being forced to pursue an alternate parcel for our grant purchase, the original landowner still generously allowed us to use the trails on their land.  Once the sale went through, we were planning to go back to them with whatever cash from our match funds we had left to purchase two critical pieces of property near US-41.  Unfortunately, before we could close the landowner decided to sell those parcels to another buyer.  In doing so, they were forced to end our license agreement for use of their entire property.  We are in the process of renegotiating access to our trails over their remaining 80 acres.  The new landowner is not trail-friendly and we were forced to reroute the end of Garden Brook and close Downtown.  Be sure to check our Trail Status page for any potential closures.

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