Keweenaw Land Trust acquires Hungarian Falls

HUBBELL – The Keweenaw Land Trust has acquired a 10-acre piece of land that includes an often-visited natural landmark – Hungarian Falls. The KLT plans to keep the site open to the public while making some changes to the area, such as adding picnic tables and signs.

“We have a senior design from Michigan Tech under professor Stan Vitton doing a whole site assessment for us. So they’re looking at the condition of the property, the condition of the dam, where the trails are, the parking area, all sorts of issues like that,” said Evan McDonald, executive director of KLT. “Then they’re going to make recommendations on different approaches we can take to manage the property. We have to think about making it user-friendly, easy to maintain and cost effective. So we’ll have to have some planning.”

In a dedication ceremony Saturday, McDonald acknowledged that the site is dear to many community members who have been visiting the falls for generations. Part of KLT’s goal is to make the area more accessible while maintaining the natural beauty.

“We aim to cultivate a certain culture of care and a land ethic, in a way that people will appreciate land in the historic and traditional ways,” said Pat Toczydlowski of the KLT.

“We are hoping the public will help us keep the site clean so that people can feel a real sense of pride when they come up here.”

Although KLT will wait on recommendations from the senior design team and input from community members before making many changes, they have already installed six informational signs pertaining to the geology of the area along the trails to the falls.

“We really wanted to highlight all the fascinating geology that’s here,” said Erika Vye, KLT board member. “We have a really amazing history geologically here in the Keweenaw – not just the recent mining activity but you have an opportunity to look back at a thing that happened a billion years ago here at the falls or even with the glaciers ten thousand years ago, and that’s all right here.”

The site was formerly owned by the Torch Lake Area Fire Protection Authority, which had been part of a larger group of townships that used the falls and dam as a water source. When the water systems in each township were updated, they dropped out until it was owned solely by Torch Lake Township. When it put the land up for sale, community members contacted KLT in an attempt to keep the land open for public use.

“People have been enjoying this land for a long time and we want to keep it that way,” McDonald said.