Upper Peninsula Day 2: Preserving Our Environment, New Opportunities for Our Future

By Mike Brownfield | August 14, 2013

Senior Center at Negaunee

Governor Rick Snyder began the second day of his Upper Peninsula tour on Tuesday in one of the most beautiful places in the state -- atop Brockway Mountain Drive in Copper Harbor at the northern tip of the Keweenau Peninsula.

The governor celebrated the purchase of the 160-acre site along with township officials, conservation groups, the Department of Natural Resources and local residents. The land was in private hands (though the owners made it open to the public). Now the site is preserved for public enjoyment and has been made part of a larger environmental preservation effort. The Daily Mining Gazette reports on the story:

The summit now becomes part of the 16-mile Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor, which stretches from Great Sand Bay to Copper Harbor. Created under former township Supervisor Ed Kisiel, the corridor is meant to provide broader protection to some of the most pristine coastline areas on the peninsula.

"This is just a piece of a larger puzzle, but it's certainly a critical one," said Eagle Harbor Township Supervisor Richard Probst.

The 320 acres are part of an internationally known raptor byway, which draws thousands of birdwatchers every year. Raptor migration surveys first took place on the summit of Brockway in 1975. Nearly 20,000 raptors were counted last spring in surveys in the Copper Country and Laughing Whitefish Audubon societies.

Harold Wescoat purchased Brockway Mountain in the 1930s. His grandson Clyde and wife Lloyd Wescoat, the current owners, have kept the land open to the public for recreational use.

With the success of the grant, those uses will be ensured for future generations, Probst said.

A New Trail in Marquette County

After departing Copper Harbor, Governor Snyder traveled southeast across the Upper Peninsula to Negaunee, where he joined in the dedication of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, a 48-mile multi-use trail that connects Marquette County communities and residents to the region's historic sites and human stories.

"I love the concept of the Iron Ore Heritage trail, because that's something we should all be proud of, anyone in Michigan, because that is our history -- mining, timber, many of the things that made America a great country in terms of giving us a great standard of living," Governor Snyder said. 

But more than celebrating our history, Governor Snyder remarked that the trial represents something important about Michigan's future -- about the ability of people to come together, overcome challenges, and build things that make our state an even better place to live.

"Our best days are not behind us, they're ahead of us," Governor Snyder said. "What's most important is the spirit to know why it's happening, and that it's going to continue to happen. That's why it's a historic day here in Negaunee, in Marquette County, because of that spirit to say, 'No is not an acceptable answer,' about saying, 'This trail is going to happen.'"

Town Hall at the Negaunee Senior Center

Senior Center in Negaunee

Following the trail dedication, Governor Snyder held a town hall at the Negaunee Senior Center, where he answered questions about Michigan's economy, health care, fixing our roads, reinventing government and the state’s future.

"We were at the bottom of the United States when you go back to 2009," Governor Snyder explained. "If you fast forward to today, we're the comeback state of the United States. That doesn't mean we don't have a lot of issues still, and there are still too many people struggling out there, but we've improved more than any other state, in terms improvement on unemployment, private sector jobs being created, income coming back.

"We're creating a foundation for more and better jobs and a brighter future for our kids."

Read about Day 1 of Governor Snyder's Upper Peninsula trip.