A plan for preservation

HOUGHTON – A process for determining the extent of cultural resources relating to the copper-mining era in much of the Copper Country, which started in February 2009, came a step closer to conclusion Tuesday.

About 20 people from local government, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, various organizations and interested individuals, gathered at the Lakeshore Center in Houghton to discuss the progress of the cultural resources survey related to the copper-mining era initiated by the KNHP Advisory Commission.

Kim Hoagland, Advisory Commission chair, said the survey is intended to help the park develop a preservation plan for historic features for the Copper Country.

“One of the purposes of the park is to preserve and interpret copper mining on the entire Keweenaw Peninsula,” she said.

The survey was conducted by Ohio-based independent contractor Jane Busch, and Hoagland said a 165-page report of the survey was completed.

Hoagland said funding for the project came from the Americana Foundation, the federal Scenic Byways program, KNHP and private donations.

“We’ve managed to get a lot of support,” she said.

Written comments on the survey will be taken until July 15 by Scott See, Advisor Commission executive director, Hoagland said.

The survey can be viewed online at nps.gov/kewe or at local libraries.

Busch said the main purpose of the cultural resources survey is to determine if any of those features qualify to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The survey was a “windshield survey” of above-ground features which can be seen from a vehicle traveling public roads in parts of Baraga County and all of Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. It didn’t include private property, or below ground features, such as mines.

Busch said other similar surveys were conducted in 1977 and 1990 by the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, but they were limited in scope to a specific area.

“Those surveys provided important information, and they’re still relevant today, … but a lot has changed since then,” she said.

The current survey is more inclusive and comprehensive than the previous two surveys, Busch said.

There were 62 “survey districts,” Busch said, and the process started in April 2009.

There were 27,646 features examined, and 17 historical themes were considered relevant. Features constructed no later than 1970 were looked at.

Facilitating the meeting was Alan Levy of Royal Oak, Mich.-based Goaltrac, who asked members of the audience to write down on small pieces of paper what they thought the weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats to the various cultural resources were.

“What we want to do is with this plan is build on those strengths,” Levy said.

The discussions at the meeting on those weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats and any public comments will be added to the report, and Busch said she will then create a draft action plan.

“The final document will be produced Sept. 1,” she said.

With the completed document, Busch said KNHP officials and Advisory Commission members can determine if application to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places should be made for any of the features.

“We want to use that (final document) to go forward,” she said.