Year-round trail system key to Keweenaw rec plan

Copper Harbor Trails Club photo Copper Harbor has become a world premier destination for mountain biking enthusiasts. It has also become renowned for its cross-country skiing opportunities, hiking, and kayaking. Keweenaw County has partnered with several groups, organizations and private parties, to continue expanding its trail systems.

EAGLE RIVER — Ann Gasperich, Keweenaw County equalization assistant, has been working with several entities and clubs in updating the county’s five-year recreation plan, which includes an emphasis on existing trails and creating new ones.

During the Dec. 19 public hearing on the 2019-23 Recreation Plan, Gasperich mentioned a land swap proposed last summer.

Eric Stier of American Forest Management gave a presentation to the County Board in August to discuss a possible plan to offer a land swap with the state of Michigan. The swap would be a value-for-value exchange involving land in Keweenaw County for state-owned forest land elsewhere in the U.P.

Such a land swap would be beneficial to the county, Gasperich said, because it would play an important role in establishing a dedicated trail system.

“When we’re trying to get a dedicated trail system, if the land were owned by the state,” she said, “it would make it much easier to be able to have that dedicated main trail.”

The recreation plan states among its goals and objectives, to secure trails throughout the county through land acquisition or permanent easements, to provide permanent rights-of-way for motorized access to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, purchase lands to protect the Copper Harbor non-motorized system, and to protect the Lake Manganese to Montreal corridor through easement or purchase.

“When you look at the different groups, there are so many of them out there,” said Gasperich. “There are the bike people and the cross-country people and the Copper Harbor people and the snowmobile people and the ATV people, and I think the (recreation) plan was designed to pull all of them in one document.”

Part of the overall objective of the recreation plan is to establish a dedicated main trail, then to create off-shoot trails from it, Gasperich said.

“I’d love to see top parks connected just between Mohawk and Fulton and Allouez, and Ahmeek,” she said, “so that people can take a stroller and jog with their baby, and not have to worry about getting run over by a bicycle or an ATV.”