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Baraga County OKs grant agreement

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Baraga County Commissioners Bill Rolof, Brad Dakota, Dan Robillard, Lyle Olsen and Gale Eilola listen to a speaker during Monday’s meeting.

L’ANSE — Baraga County has moved a step closer to establishing a nature area in Covington Township.

At Monday’s meeting, the county board approved a $2.7 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund toward the purchase of 1,184 acres in Covington Township, including more than 4 miles of frontage on the Sturgeon River. The grant covers 75% of the cost; the remaining 25% comes from the seller of the property.

The county is partnering with the Superior Watershed Partnership, which will assist with management, monitoring, maintenance and trail development. Along with the Great Lakes Climate Corps, they plan to develop hiking trails, kayak launches and kiosks for environmental education, SWP said in a release last month.

Full amenities are planned to be available by 2024, though some portions could be ready as soon as next summer.

The board also heard an update from Harold Miron of the Baraga County Trails Authority on the progress of the county’s new ORV and snowmobile trails. Meetings with the Nature Conservancy, Certainteed and the state and federal government had been productive, he said. The proposed trail route will have to be rerouted to avoid Michigan Technological University property over concerns about nesting birds and the potential for introducing invasive species, Miron said.

It will not become part of the state trail system this year, but Miron is hoping to get signage added this fall. Final approval to join the state system could come next year. The authority is launching a membership drive this fall to get more people involved.

“From the first time we talked a couple months ago to now, we went from infant stage to I think young adult,” he said.

The board also accepted a bid of $14,501 from Superior Truck and Fire for a Polaris side-by-side being sold by the sheriff’s department. The bid was the highest of 15 the county received.

In commissioner reports, Commissioner Gale Eilola reported good attendance for all three days of the county fair.

“We’re planning next year’s fair already,” he said. “We’ve got some new ideas, new upgrades.”

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