EAGLE HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Brockway Mountain has been a favorite public destination for its stunning views and its location on the raptors' migratory path. And it will remain that way.
With dignitaries from across the state in attendance, a dedication ceremony was held at the summit Tuesday morning to celebrate that fact. In February, Eagle Harbor Township purchased the 320 acres at the top of Brockway through a $498,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant with the aid of a local consortium.
"It's a great project because so many people contributed something," said Gina Nicholas, chair of the Houghton-Keweenaw Conservation District board of directors. "This benefits future generations, and benefits the land and the ecology in the Keweenaw."
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder speaks before cutting the ribbon at the dedication of the summit of Brockway Mountain Tuesday morning. Eagle Harbor Township purchased the property in February through a $498,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant.
The summit is perhaps the most iconic landmark in the Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor, which currently runs from Great Sand Bay to Copper Harbor. Almost 20,000 raptors pass over the summit in their migration each spring; the sight routinely draws thousands of birdwatchers to the area.
Eagle Harbor Township Supervisor Rich Probst, whose predecessor created the corridor, said while he came in at the end of the process, he's proud of be involved.
"It's great to be part of it," he said. "It's great that the township's going to own this and people are going to be able to use it forever."
Local institutions contributed $172,000 in matching funds. That includes the township, local conservation groups - Houghton-Keweenaw Conservation District, Keweenaw Land Trust, Copper Country Audubon and The Nature Conservancy - and nearly 500 private donors.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a former Nature Conservancy trustee, praised the mountain - and the partnerships that made the moment possible.
"All you have to do is look around you," he said. "This is fabulous. Brockway Mountain is one of the special spots in this state."
The summit had been in the hands of the Wescoat family since 1930s. The family, continuing to the most recent owners Clyde and Lloyd Wescoat, have kept the property intact and open to the public.
"I think it's just a win-win-win," Clyde Wescoat said of the acquisition. " It came together with a lot of help from a lot of couple. It'll be good for everyone."
The Brockway purchase sets the bar for future projects, Nicholas said.
"There are a lot of places along the wildlife corridor that need protection," she said. "The dream is to have a corridor of natural areas that runs at least from Eagle Harbor to Copper Harbor, but possibly from Eagle River up to the state land. I think that's where we're trying to go."