Listen to the interview with John Griffith, North Woods Conservancy
CALUMET — The goal of the North Woods Conservancy in the Copper Country is to ensure public access to natural lands that people have had access to for years.
What made the Keweenaw Peninsula unique for such preservation is that there is very little state forest and no national forest. Instead, the large tracts of land were owned by logging companies.
“For me, it’s a quality of life issue,” said John Griffith, co-founder of the North Woods Conservancy. “It’s good for the community, it’s good for your mental health, it’s good for the environment. I like to live in a place where there is a lot of open space. Place where you can go to find a little serenity, fish, hunt, hike, camp. We offer all those things on the properties we’ve acquired.”
The conservancy seeks tracts of land that are large enough to withstand human activity. Griffith said the co-goals are public access, public recreation and species diversity.
The conservancy gained five separate natural areas since it was established in 1992 and was instrumental in the acquisition of the 222-acre Gratiot River County Park. Griffith said the park is a good example of the conservancy’s goals.
“The result is, instead of 45 homes on a 9,000 foot stretch of beach, it’s open. It’s a great place to fish. It’s a great place to hunt agates. You can head up to the north, it’s non-motorized to the north, and find some real peace and serenity on that north shore. We say you can go lose yourself because you will find yourself. That’s the kind of thing I like,” Griffith said.
Griffith said they still have plans for future preservation. To raise funds, they are raffling a 2018 Chevy Silverado Truck on Labor Day. It can be seen at keweenawtruckraffle.org. Only 1,000 tickets are being sold.
“We thought it would be kind of cool to just have a 1 in 1,000 chance which is pretty good odds. Your regular lottery is 1 in 292 million. Our odds are much better than that. That brings the ticket price up but I think it’s working because people really like those odds,” he said.
Griffith has been selling tickets throughout the U.P. at events like the Upper Peninsula Fair in Escanaba and Marquette County Fair.
Tickets are available at the Ahmeek Streetcar Station in Ahmeek, Bonfire Steakhouse in Houghton, Superior Travel in Houghton, Rosy’s Diner in Escanaba or by calling 906-370-9022 until Saturday, Sept. 1.
To learn more about the conservancy, go to northwoodsconservancy.org.