There is a movement to preserve easement rights to Michigan’s highest point, Mount Arvon. The proposed 73,000-acre Michigamme Highlands would also include 37 miles of rivers, 220 miles of perennial streams, 96 lakes and ponds, more than 13,600 acres of wetlands, and habitat for federal and state-listed threatened or endangered species.
By Kerry Heckman, Michigan DNR and Jim DuFresne
The Michigan DNR is moving forward to preserving one of the truly exceptional slices of our state; the Michigamme Highlands in the western Upper Peninsula.
The 73,000-acre Michigamme Highlands project includes the summit of Mt. Arvon, 37 miles of rivers, 220 miles of perennial streams, 96 lakes and ponds, more than 13,600 acres of wetlands, over 4,800 acres of white-tailed deer winter habitat and habitat for federal and state-listed threatened or endangered species.
The Highlands are home to moose, black bear, pine marten, fisher, grouse, eagles, coaster brook trout, brown and rainbow trout, Coho and pink salmon, bass and northern pike. The project spans portions of Baraga, Iron and Marquette counties.
The crowning jewel of the proposed easement – literally – is M.t Arvon, which at 1,979 feet is Michigan’s highest point.
Unlike almost every other state, Michigan’s highest point has always been an elusive, hard-to-find place. At first it was thought to be Summit Peak, the 1,958-foot ridge in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, where today there is an observation tower reached after just a short hike.
But in 1963, Mount Curwood in Baraga County was designated the highest elevation in the state at 1,996 feet. For the next two decades, highpointers, whose mission in life is to stand on the highest point in all 50 states, arrived at L’Anse from around the country to follow a maze of logging roads to the remote summit.
Then Michigan’s top peak was changed for a third time. In 1982, the Department of Interior conducted a survey and concluded Mount Curwood is only 1,978.24 feet in elevation and the second-highest spot in the state. Michigan’s loftiest peak is nearby Mount Arvon, which is 1,979.238 feet above sea level and less than a foot higher than Curwood.
After its new designation, a local Boy Scout troop became the first group to climb Mount Arvon (GPS: North 45° 45.330′, West 88° 9.325′) and built a yellow witness box at the top.
In 1999, the route to Mount Arvon was significantly improved and signposted while on the peak itself, a “Congratulations! You have reached Michigan’s Highest Point” sign was installed. There is also a USGS brass marker verifying the elevation. What you won’t find at the top is much of a view.
In the summer and fall, the view is obscured by foliage. In late November, after the leaves have fallen but before the snows arrive, you can wander to the north side of the roundish peak and, through the trees, gaze out on Lake Superior, Huron Bay and Point Abbaye, which separates the two.
The DNR is working with the current landowner, Lyme Great Lakes Timberlands, to protect this area through a working forest conservation easement potentially.
As proposed, the Michigamme Highlands conservation project would give the DNR conservation easement rights on behalf of Michigan’s residents while the land remains privately owned by Lyme. Those rights would ensure that the property is sustainably managed as a working forest, protect wildlife habitat, prevent property development or subdivision, and ensure public recreational access forever.
The DNR and Lyme are inviting the public and interested stakeholders to visit and learn more about the Michigamme Highlands project during two upcoming property tours:
- Monday, July 10 at 12:45 p.m. Eastern: Meet at Lyme Great Lakes Timberlands Office, 15800 Mead Road, L’Anse.
- Tuesday, July 11 at 8:45 a.m. Eastern: Meet at Koski Corners Park and Ride, the intersection of US-41/M-28 and M-95, Champion.
The informational sessions and property tours will last approximately three hours. Transportation for the property tours will be provided and seating is limited. To ensure that you have a seat on the tour, please RSVP to: MichigammeHighlands@lymegreatlakes.com by Thursday, July 6.
For a map and precise directions to Mt. Arvon, contact the Baraga County Visitors Bureau (906-524-7444; www.visitbaragacounty.com/our-visitors-bureau).
Learn more about the proposed project and keep updated on its progress by visiting the Michigamme Highlands project web page.