CALUMET - The first of what are intended to be annual meetings of the Copper Country Trail National Byway Committee was conducted Wednesday at the newly renovated Keweenaw National Historical Park Visitor Center in the Union Building in Calumet, and those in attendance got an overview of the efforts of the CCT to date.
Dallas Bond, chairman of the CCT governing board, said people in the Copper Country actually began talking about developing such a route in the late 1980s.
The federal designation of National Byway - which runs along U.S. 41 from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge north to Copper Harbor - came in 2005, and Bond said many local, state and federal groups, organizations and agencies are involved with improving the CCT.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Dallas Bond, chair of the Copper Country Trail National Byway Committee governing board, addresses those attending the group’s first meeting Wednesday in the Keweenaw National Historical Park Visitor Center in the Union Building in Calumet.
"That's a reason for more community involvement," he said.
Funding for the CCT has come from state and federal sources with local matches, and in 2011, almost $253,000 was received.
"2011, for the CCT, was a great year," he said.
Since 2006, Bond said the CCT received $1,131,387 for several projects, which allow for a historic resource inventory, and preservation of natural areas.
One of the projects to be funded is the construction of an overlook area on Brockway Mountain near Copper Harbor, Bond said.
"It's one of those projects that was long overdue," he said.
Bond said although early there were discussions of making the CCT a nonprofit organization, eventually it was decided to make it a collaborative organization with members signing a memorandum of understanding about what the organization should be. Although the bylaws allow for up to 20 governing board members now, there are nine, two technical advisors and seven general members.
After Bond spoke, Meg Pachmayer, planner with the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region and CCT secretary, said although U.S. 41 is the main route on the CCT, the corridor includes much more.
"We consider that anything north of the Portage Lake Shipping Canal," she said.
The corridor also includes M-26 and most of the communities from the canal to Copper Harbor.
Pachmayer said in 1994, the CCT received a Scenic Michigan Heritage Route designation.
In 2005, Pachmayer said a CCT corridor management plan was developed. That same year, the National Byway Designation was given to the route.
Pachmayer said there are benefits to being a National Byway member, including promotional and economic development, preservation of resources, developing partnerships with interested parties and access to funding from federal, state and local sources.
Some of that funding helped move the CCT process forward, Pachmayer said, by allowing for the printing of 30,000 brochures about the route, which were placed throughout Michigan and parts of Wisconsin.
The National Byway marketing campaign also promotes the CCT, Pachmayer said.
Pachmayer said the CCT master interpretive plan was completed after a two-year process, and the corridor management plan is being updated.
The CCT National Byway Committee is now more formalized, Pachmayer said, which will also help move the process forward.
"It's really exciting to see where we can go from here," she said.
Tom Baker, management assistant for the Keweenaw National Historical Park, one of the CCT technical advisors, said the National Park Service is actively involved with the route.
"We do anything that's in our capacity to help," he said.
Baker said it's important the CCT corridor take in more than just U.S. 41.
"This group had a much greater vision than just U.S. 41," he said.
Other roads and communities in the corridor are important to the history of the area, Baker said.
The Byway will naturally spread to areas south of the lift bridge, also, Baker said.
"This is an area of great national significance," he said.