Heated debate: Concerns over Huron Bay Field Station grounds leads to discussion about access

Katrice Perkins/ Daily Mining Gazette Evan McDonald presents a powerpoint about the Abbaye Peninsula-Huron Bay Conservation Initiative at the Western Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Council meeting on Jan. 18.

The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) Huron Bay Field Station project sparked debate amongst attendees at the Western Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Council meeting on Jan. 18.

KLT Executive Director Evan McDonald gave a presentation about the trust’s projects and what is happening with the fence removal at Huron Bay Field Station.

KLT purchased the 1,245-acre former game farm for $1.1 million in 2015, with the hopes of opening the forest and wetland area to the public and restoring key habitat.

“We acquired the property for conservation purposes in 2015 with a federal grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said McDonald. We proposed that we would eventually remove the fence and restore the land, but also facilitate public access.”

Those in attendance for the UPCAP meeting were mainly concerned about the limited access. He assured them that it will be available to the public, but it will likely be non-motorized.

“We’re still developing a management plan,” said McDonald. “We haven’t ruled out motorized access. It is possible for some road access.”

McDonald said there’s a possibility for some motorized access but it’s important to not harm the land. When taking on the grant they agreed to conserve the land and do what was best for the environment.

KLT’s partners agree with its sustainable plans.

“All of our funding supports the low impact use that we’re trying to achieve,” said McDonald.

KLT has contracted Deem Fencing company to remove the 10-foot fence. McDonald said it’s a rugged property, but “they know the issues of putting in the fence and they have the equipment.”

McDonald is not sure when the demolition will begin.

“We’re leaving it to them,” he said. “We anticipate it could take a good portion of this year to get all of it done.”

KLT is still working on a plan to decide what will be done with the land once the fence is removed, but its main goal is to conserve the habitat for the wildlife.

“We want to make sure the habitats are protected,” said McDonald. “It is important.”