CALUMET — An Upper Peninsula lawmaker is helping to make a scenic landmark in Houghton County open to the public. ABC 10’s Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Rick Allen has the story.
If you try to visit the Houghton-Douglass falls, this fence is as far as most people get. That’s because in 1996, the falls, which are located on private property, were closed to the public. That could soon change.
Calumet Township Supervisor Paul Lehto said, “It’s the highest waterfall in Michigan. It’s probably the highest waterfall in the Midwest. So, it’s always been an interest of the township, and a lot of other people, to acquire the falls to make it either state property or county property or property that people can access.”
State Representative Scott Dianda has recommended that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Recreation Division receive $600,000 to purchase the property and provide public access.
That would include providing parking spaces, improving the trail, setting up safety barriers and trash cans, and maybe one day even public restrooms. Calumet Township will work with other agencies to develop a management plan for the area.
Lehto said, “The management plan would simply be where your parking is, who picks up the garbage, etc. Between Calumet Township and Houghton and Keweenaw County Recreation Authority, we have agreed to do this.”
A few legislative hoops need to be jumped through before the DNR can begin negotiating with the property owner to purchase about 80 acres around the falls.
Once the sale is completed, the public will be able to enjoy the beauty of the area for the first time in nearly 20 years.