DNR buys Au Train Basin parcels

FOREST LAKE – Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh approved a $2.5 million land purchase Thursday for Alger County, which will acquire roughly 2,200 acres around the AuTrain Basin.

The purchase was funded through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and has been in development for more than five years. Creagh approved the purchase at Thursday’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Saginaw.

The acquisition puts 1,626 acres of Upper Peninsula Power Co. land and 556 acres of U.P. Hydro property under state control. Significant features of the land to be acquired -for the purpose of wildlife habitat protection and public recreation- include the AuTrain Basin Waterfowl Refuge and the Forest Lake State Forest Campground, which the DNR previously was leasing.

In 2007, $1.25 million was approved from the trust fund for an initial purchase phase with another $1.25 million allocated from the fund in 2010.

Several local entities recently reaffirmed their support the land purchase including the Alger County Fish and Game Alliance, which was instrumental in the endeavor from the beginning, the Alger County Chamber of Commerce and the Alger County Board.

“The AuTrain Basin historically has been a favorite for both Alger County citizens and tourists for hunting, fishing and camping,” said Alger County Board Chairman Jerry Doucette. “These types of attractions also add to the economic stability of Alger County with the interest of using public lands by out-of-area sportsmen and women. This project has been ongoing for a number of years and our local citizenry will be pleased to know of its completion.”

The acquisition includes parcels bordering other public lands, including seven miles of border with state forest, six miles of U.S. Forest Service land and six miles of DNR owned Kamehameha Forestland Group conservation easement.

The properties -which are primarily wooded upland that has been actively managed for timber production with the assistance of professional foresters- are accessed at several points by county roads and two track roadways. Roughly 13 miles of the property is located within a quarter-mile of the basin.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is jpepin@miningjournal.net