The Nature Conservancy in Michigan (TNC)—a global conservation organization committed to building a future where people and nature both thrive—held its second public meeting since purchasing the Keweenaw Heartlands in 2022. The meeting, held at The Vue at Harbor Haus on Thursday, June 22, updated the community on several important stages of the project.
“So much has happened since we last met in person with the public in January, including hiring two new staff members, starting the ecological and cultural inventory of the land and getting close to finalizing the Blueprint document for this project,” said Helen Taylor, state director for TNC in Michigan. “It was great to take some time to break down each of these important steps for the community and answer their questions.”
TNC is partnering with Michigan Technological University on the cultural and ecological inventory, as well as receiving input on biological resources from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) and assistance with timber and carbon analysis from Green Timber, Inc., with input from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Ultimately, the inventory will help inform the management and protection of the natural and cultural resources within the Keweenaw Heartlands, pinpoint infrastructure assets and needs, and quantify timber and carbon sequestration potential.
“The experts at Michigan Tech, the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Green Timber, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are all invaluable members of our inventory team. That said, we invite the public’s help to ensure this inventory is as thorough as possible,” said Julia Petersen, Keweenaw Peninsula project manager. “I would encourage anyone who’s spent time in the Keweenaw Heartlands footprint to fill out our online survey and contribute to this important project.”
Once the inventory is complete, TNC will work with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and local managers to utilize the information gathered through the inventory to develop specific management plans for the property.
In May, TNC announced the hiring of two new staff members—including Petersen—to work on the Keweenaw Peninsula and Keweenaw Heartlands project. In addition to Petersen, TNC hired Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer, who was a preserve specialist at TNC’s three preserves in the Keweenaw Peninsula last summer, as a restoration associate. Obert-Pfeiffer will assist with the Keweenaw Heartlands inventory and will work on TNC’s property in the area.
“Julia Petersen and Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer are incredible additions to our team and their presence helps us deliver on TNC’s commitment to this land and the communities that surround it,” Taylor said.
Finally, the public comment period for revisions to the first four sections of the Keweenaw Blueprint closed on June 20. The public’s feedback along with input from the planning committee will be used to finalize Blueprint document this summer.
TNC purchased the more than 32,000 acres of land in two separate sales, one closing in late October and the second just before Christmas 2022. Under TNC ownership, the land will remain open to the public under the Michigan Commercial Forest Program and on community tax rolls. The area is recognized by TNC as a global priority for both biodiversity and climate resiliency, and an opportunity to protect an extraordinary region.
Members of the public can keep up to date on the status of the Keweenaw Heartlands Project by visiting the project website hosted on the Keweenaw Area Community Foundation’s website.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.