Access Protection Project
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.
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 the spring of 2021 Grant Township's then-Supervisor Scott Wendt refused to sign the Purchase Agreement to acquire the property and the opportunity was lost. TRG soon after took the parcel off the market and bundled it with several thousand acres of adjacent land in a package too large for this grant. CHTC and its project partners are extremely disappointed at Scott Wendt's short-sighted move away from supporting outdoor recreation.
The MNRTF grant is still active; however, until an alternative parcel becomes available the project is effectively unable to move forward. Scott Wendt abruptly quit from the Supervisor position in June 2022 after attempting to use this grant for other purposes and against the wishes of the community. The remaining members of the Grant Township Board are committed to doing what they can to save this project and we are helping them however we can.
We appreciate everyone who has supported the Copper Harbor Trails Club over the years with this project. We are as disappointed as anyone that the originally envisioned goals did not pan out despite our 6+ years of advocating and working on behalf of Grant Township to see the MNRTF grant through.
In the fall of 2022, The Nature Conservancy announced they had secured the purchase of 31,000 acres in Keweenaw County from TRG! Read the full press release here. This includes the land that Grant Township was trying to purchase during Plan B. We look forward to working with TNC to protect our existing trails through this land and ensuring future corridors are in place for new trails in the years to come.
Although CHTC was not able to help Grant Township purchase this property, we are committed to using the funds raised for the original MNRTF grant to protect our trails. Together with the Keweenaw Outdoor Recreation Coalition and Michigan DNR, we are working to secure a 160 acre parcel that contains about half a mile of the Keweenaw Point Trail and a portion of High Rock Bay Road. Protecting this property will keep these corridors open and available to the public forever. Additional funds from the project will be used as other opportunities arise.