Protecting Brockway Mountain

Earlier this year, MNA confirmed an option to purchase an additional 77 acres of land adjacent to the James H. Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary along the Keweenaw Peninsula’s famed Brockway Mountain Drive.

In order to purchase this land and protect it forever, MNA will need to raise more than $150,000 by December 24, 2014. If MNA can make this happen, the total protected area around Brockway Mountain’s summit will total 557 acres, including a recent acquisition by Eagle Harbor Township.

Brockway Mountain and Brockway Mountain Drive. Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Brockway Mountain and Brockway Mountain Drive. Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Brockway Mountain provides semi-alpine habitat for various grasses, sedges and wildflowers, including purple cliff-brake fern and the green adder’s mouth orchid. It also provides one of the best opportunities in Michigan to observe raptors during their spring migration.

Brockway Mountain Drive has been described as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the United States. With an elevation of 1,320 feet, the drive offers stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding Keweenaw Peninsula, including views of Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor and the peninsula’s vast forests and sparkling inland lakes.

The drive was designed in 1932 and construction began in 1933 with funding from the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). It opened on October 14, 1933 and quickly became a popular destination for motorists. In December 1938, the Ironwood Daily Globe declared that “at least one million persons” had traveled on the road the first five years it was open, sparking a tourist boom in the area.

Brockway Mountain Drive is the highest scenic road between the Alleghenies and the Rockies and plays a vital role in the tourist economy of Keweenaw County. Protecting the beauty of the Brockway Mountain and Brockway Mountain Drive benefits both wildlife and the local community.

If you would like to help protect the critical habitat and beautiful outlooks on Brockway Mountain by donating funds toward MNA’s purchase of the additional 77 acres now under option, please contact MNA’s Executive Director Garret Johnson at (866) 223-2231, or

Estivant Pines’ 40th anniversary sparks new challenge for old-growth forest

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Photo by Charlie Eshbach

Forty years ago, people across the state of Michigan rallied together to raise money to save Estivant Pines. In honor of the 40th anniversary of this event, anonymous donors have provided MNA with a new matching challenge grant. The donors will match all contributions over $500 to MNA, up to a maximum of $40,000 by the end of 2013. New membership dues will also be matched. You can make a secure donation at or by calling (866) 223-2231.

Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary in the Keweenaw Peninsula has efficiently protected several threatened species and the beautiful white pines that cover the land over the past four decades.

MNA and local citizens ended their three-year long battle on August 17, 1973 by successfully acquiring a copy of the deed to the Estivant Pines. The “Save the Estivant Pines Committee” began in 1970 when local citizen Lauri Leskinen wrote a column that appeared in the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette that expressed the need to save the pines.

Universal Oil Products, who had cut down about 350 acres of the old forest and had plans for future development, previously owned the Estivant Pines. Charlie Eshbach and Jim Rooks were co-chairs of the committee that worked together with local citizens to generate enough funds to cover the $56,000 price tag that marked the foundation of Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is often referred to as a “living museum” because of its large old-growth white pine forest, with some trees that are 500 years old and stand up to 125 feet tall. For the past four decades, Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary has protected numerous species of plants and animals, including Michigan’s official state tree, the white pine.

There are two trails that visitors can walk down, the Cathedral Loop Trail and the Bertha Daubendiek Memorial Grove Trail, to see the beautiful scenery of Estivant Pines. Visitors can also see several copper mine pits, dating back thousands of years.

For more information, visit the Michigan Nature Association website or check out the Fall 2013 issue of Michigan Nature magazine.