Jammin’ for the Dam
ATLANTIC MINE – The Keweenaw Land Trust is one big step closer to keeping upper Hungarian Falls accessible to the public after a successful music fundraiser event Saturday.
The KLT Dam Jam, which featured an array of local musicians playing from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Brownstone Hall, raised about $6,500 through the approximately 300 attendees.
“It was definitely above what we were expecting,” KLT project intern Nathan Miller said in a Sunday phone interview. “We were figuring on about $5,000. … I thought it was a great time and we had a ton of great volunteers who helped us work on everything.”
The KLT is now within about $8,000 of the $40,000 goal to purchase the 10-acre property, which includes the uppermost Hungarian Falls, historic dam and woodland trails. The fundraising deadline is April 30. The KLT is also up to 80 new members, just 20 shy of the 100-member challenge, which, if met, would trigger $10,000 in donations from major donors.
“I’m so glad to see the community come together for something like this,” said Heaven Hawkins, a Laurium resident who played for Trouble on the Stairs during Saturday’s event. “It’s a great cause. I want (Hungarian Falls) to be preserved, I want it to be untouched and be able to go there, and eventually take my kids there, and have it be something that lasts for a long time.”
Other performers included Jonathan Soper, Keweenaw Brewgrass, The Barnstormers, Outwash Plain, Trouble on the Stairs and The Board. The building was jamming right up until 10:30, when organizers eventually had to put an end to the encores.
“It was a crazy amount of people,” said Josh Mortti, who played for The Board. “I’ve been hanging out at the Hungarian Falls since I was a little kid, so anything I can do to help save it., I’ll do.”
The event involved a $10 cover charge with beer and soda sales benefiting the cause, along with Hungarian Falls stickers and KLT pint glasses. Snacks were available, and the hall was packed from wall to wall, with all seats taken at tables in the back and the dance floor packed with people near the stage.
The Hungarian Falls is located near Tamarack City and the uppermost 10 acres is currently owned by the Torch Lake Area Fire Protection Authority, which formerly used the pond behind the dam for fire protection. The property was put on the market in December, but the listing was pulled and KLT has been working on the purchase since then. The lower falls is on land owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
“Most people consider the Hungarian Gorge to be one entity,” Miller said. “Losing a piece of it would be like losing all of it.”
The KLT is still accepting donations and soliciting new members online through its website, keweenawlandtrust.org, and more information can also be found through the “Keweenaw Land Trust” Facebook page. According to Miller, a “Dam Jam 2” may also be in the works.
The KLT also has one more of its three community forums left, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at C.J. Sullivan Elementary School in L’Anse. The purpose is to solicit public feedback on the KLT’s conservation priorities.
“Public access is really a key theme that’s coming forward, and we’re seeing that with Hungarian Falls,” Miller said. “Support for this project has been immense.”