KNA explains reason for land acquisition

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette John Griffith of the Keweenaw Natural Areas spoke to the Keweenaw County Board last week on the non-profit’s attempts at purchasing a 546-care parcel of land along the Gratiot River.

EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw Nature Areas (KNA) says its intent in purchasing a large piece of property on the Gratiot River is to provide public access to the area.

John Griffith of the KNA conservation group said the KNA began focusing on the river, primarily because its scenic and biological value, as well as the fact that it was within a few miles of 80 percent of the county residents.

“There was no road between Cedar Bay and Five Mile Point,” Griffith told the County Board at its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, “so it was kind of a natural area to focus on, and the Gratiot River is kind of spectacular, and it was a place where people for generations had gone to. So, little by little, we’ve been trying to acquire pieces here and there to provide public access, and fishing, and hunting, and now there is just one piece left, and we’re calling it ‘the missing linkage.'”

The tract in question is a 546-acre parcel with a lake frontage of 3,100 feet. It connects with the Michigan Nature Association’s Black Creek Block preserve, and with private conservation land on the east side of the river, and also connects the KNA’s Conglomerate Falls Nature Area. It also connects with the county property containing the Gratiot River Park.

The Conglomerate Falls Nature Area started with 40 acres and now contains 275 acres, Griffith said.

“If you’ve ever driven down to the mouth of the Gratiot (River), you’ve driven through it,” said Griffith. “You didn’t know it, because there are no gates and no signs. The idea is to keep it the way it is.”

Griffith said there is one piece remaining, which is the 546-acre tract the non-profit is trying to acquire.

The total cost of the property is $1.4 million, and the KNA needs to raise $80,000 by December 28, said Griffith.

“I’ve seen some wild stuff out there about how the intention is to shut people out,” Griffith said, “when in fact, the intent is exactly the opposite, the intent is to provide public access.”