Bracing on Budget: Senator ‘concerned’ about possible cuts at Keweenaw NHP

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette U.S Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, discussed funding for the Keweenaw National Historical Park during a Friday visit to the Daily Mining Gazette. Peters visited the park Saturday to talk with staff.

HOUGHTON — United States Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, is concerned the current interest by Congress and President Donald Trump to cut federal funding for many government programs could negatively impact Keweenaw National Historical Park.

During an interview Friday at the Daily Mining Gazette, Peters said although there has been no stated desire by Congress or the administration to cut funding to the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service, cuts could affect many NPS sites around the country.

“I’m concerned about that,” he said.

Peters joined KNHP Superintendent Wyndeth Davis and members of the KNHP Advisory Commission for a briefing Saturday at park headquarters in Calumet to hear more about the work the park staff and the community are doing to preserve the unique history of the Copper Country. Also at the meeting were advisory commissioners David Geisler, president of the Calumet Village Board, Advisory Commission Chairman Rev. Bob Langseth and author and historian Larry Lankton.

Green wrote Peters received an overview of the copper mining industry’s history in the area, along with an update on the Advisory Commission’s work and the private partnerships that supplement the National Park Service’s efforts to preserve many of the historic sites across the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Peters also heard more about progress the park and its partners have made in their efforts to clean up and preserve the Quincy Smelting Works, which is the only remaining copper smelter in the Lake Superior region.

Davis doesn’t anticipate serious funding cuts for the Department of the Interior, which would affect KNHP.

“I am very pragmatic and optimistic,” she said. “We’ll do our best with what we get.”

The current annual allocation for the KNHP is $1.7 million, Davis said.

The KNHP partners with 21 Heritage Sites, various other organizations and with local communities, and Davis said Peters was interested in the partnership model because it’s unique in the NPS.

“Here we tend to work together with partners to benefit the park and the community,” she said.

Davis said she appreciated Peters’ visit to the park, and she urged him to come back during warm weather to take a tour of the former Quincy Smelting Works site, which is now owned by the KNHP Advisory Commission, but will eventually be turned over to the NPS.

The smelter is an important part not only of local, but also national history, Davis said.

“It is one of a kind in the world,” she said.