EAGLE HARBOR TOWNSHIP - One of the most scenic spots and important locations for hawk migration in the Keweenaw has been preserved for public access.
On Thursday, Eagle Harbor Township finalized a $498,000 grant through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to purchase the summit of Brockway Mountain and the surrounding 320 acres.
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.
Matching funds of $172,000 came from the township and several conservation groups - Houghton-Keweenaw Conservation District, Keweenaw Land Trust, Copper Country Audubon and The Nature Conservancy - as well as a number of private donors.
"Along with the other groups, The Nature Conservancy was a big part of this," Probst said. "We couldn't have done it without them. They definitely helped a bunch."
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.
The gift shop currently at the summit will be refit for some some of recreational or educational purpose, Probst said. There will also be a dedication ceremony in late spring or early summer.
"The Wescoats have been very generous in the way they've let it be used to date, for recreation ... it's a beautiful spot to go up and watch the sunset or watch the birds migrate," Probst said. "It'd certainly be easy enough for Clyde to have sold it to a private developer and made a bit more money. This was a way to keep it the way it is."