Draft Governance Models emphasizes public ownership of Keweenaw Heartlands

EAGLE RIVER — Julia Petersen, Keweenaw Heartlands project manager with the Nature Conservancy of Michigan, provided an outline for recommended governance model of the Heartlands property moving forward at the Wednesday Keweenaw County board meeting. The purpose of Petersen presenting the recommendation was not for intended action, but to for TNC to get feedback and questions from the Board members.

Petersen told the Board that TNC is the interim owner of the more than 32,000-acre forestland, with an intended period of 3 to 5 years while residents and stakeholders figure out what the long-term ownership of Keweenaw Heartlands would look like.

“We used that public engagement that led us to the acquisition,” Petersen said, “to figure out the values and principles that the community holds for that land. We worked with the community and the Planning Committee to build out values and principles of management, and values and principles of governance.”

Those principles heavily emphasize accountability, transparency and capability to manage, which assisted in the creation of a draft Governance Model.

“And that draft Government Model,” said Petersen, “emphasizes public ownership.”

The draft Governance Model outlines five principles, including: A diverse representative structure; Balanced term and office tenure; Principles-based management; Public accountability; and Organizational Competence.

“The community was passionate about protecting the cultural (and) natural resource, ensuring forest health,” Petersen said.

The forestland would continue as a long-term, working forest, maintaining government revenue that the land previously generated. Ensuring public access in perpetuity was also a clear goal from the beginning.

“This is a long time coming — a lot of work,” Petersen said. “Folks in this room, many of the members who constructed this draft model, are here tonight and I am really excited to present this to you for the first time, and though it certainly won’t be the last time as we move through and take the feedback in and adjust this over the next couple of months.”

The Keweenaw Area Community Foundation website contains the Keweenaw Heartlands Project webpage, which containes archives and updates on the Heartlands Project dating back to Oct. 27, 2022. The documents, updates and news regarding the project are available to the public at https://www.keweenawcommunityfoundation.org/keweenaw-heartlands-project


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