Purchasing: DNR acquiring rights of way in order to secure trail access

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Ray Chase discusses DNR purchases of privately owned rights of way to the ORV/snowmobile trails between northern Houghton County and southern Keweenaw County.

EAGLE RIVER — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is in the process of purchasing rights of way from Calumet to Mohawk from private land owners, according to Ray Chase of the Houghton-Keweenaw Recreation Authority. Chase gave the brief announcement to the Keweenaw County Board at its regular monthly meeting on Jan. 17.

The purpose of the intended purchases is to secure access to the public trail system between Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

“The DNR is (working with) every private land owner that will sell,” Chase said. “I just helped them work out the map last week, so that’s something that is coming, and that’s worth noting, I think.”

The Houghton-Keweenaw Recreation Authority was incorporated in 2012 with the main purpose of creating and maintaining a permanent, year-round publicly accessible trail system within and between the two counties. The authority can purchase, lease, and/or accept donations of land or structures for trails, trailheads, parking areas, riding areas, rest areas, or any other structure, facility, or acquisition or holding that the authority’s board deems necessary to further the interests of the trail system, according to its Articles of Incorporation. It is also enabled to provide amenities along the trail, including bike racks, directional signage, interpretive signage, kiosks, trailhead facilities, etc., “that add to the enjoyment of the trail experience.”

When asked if the board members could see the new trail map, Chase said it is in the process of completion, and is not yet at the stage of being seen.

“We’re just penciling in names and areas for him to put together a completed map,” Chase said without identifying of whom he was speaking, “and he should have it to me in the next couple of weeks, and then we can go from there. So actually at this point, it’s a draft and it’s not ready for public viewing, but it will be.”