Porcupine Mountains: Public input sought on park access route and management planning

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Porcupines Mountains Wilderness State Park News

Lake of the Clouds viewed from the shoreline at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Here's a look at two important public meetings taking place Wednesday, Aug. 14 concerning Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Emergency project to protect Porcupine Mountains access route begins Aug. 5; public input sought on solutions

Erosion along Ontonagon County Road 107 is shown.

Media contact: John Pepin, 906-226-1352

An emergency shoreline project will get underway Monday, Aug. 5 to protect the main entry road on the east end of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park from erosion aggravated by high Lake Superior water levels and storm damage. 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Ontonagon County Road Commission have teamed up to protect County Road 107 to ensure continued east access to the 60,000-acre park and its signature attractions.

The DNR is not typically involved in county road projects, but is in this case because of the road’s importance to the park.

“Without this main accessway, should a road washout or undermining occur, visitors to the park’s east end may be required to take an 80-mile detour, via west end entry, or be prevented altogether from reaching numerous points of interest,” said Eric Cadeau, DNR regional field planner.

Damage control
The estimated $550,000 project is focused at protecting critical roadway assets along the 107th Engineer Memorial Highway (Ontonagon County Road 107), including the Union River Bridge and shoreline along the road west of the bridge.

“This shoreline protection project is an immediate response effort intended to keep wave action and storms from further eroding or undermining the bridge or roadway that collectively serves as the eastern gateway to the park,” Cadeau said. “The DNR Parks and Recreation Division and the Ontonagon County Road Commission have also begun a public engagement and planning process which will help us determine long-term solutions for protecting this invaluable resource.”

For now, large angular riprap stone will be placed 250 feet east and west from the concrete bridge deck at the Union River. Shoreline armoring will continue west of the bridge, protecting sections of the county road immediately vulnerable to damage in seasonal Lake Superior storm events.

The work is expected to continue through October, affecting traffic along County Road 107, from a half-mile east of the Union River Bridge to a half-mile west of South Boundary Road. Motorists should expect single-lane closures and one-way traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals.

“The public will be able access the beach and Lake Superior along significant lengths of the county road, but access will not be permitted within the work zone, including at beach areas,” said Mike Maloney, Ontonagon County Road Commission engineer.

Over the past several years, Lake Superior has been experiencing high water levels. In 2014, the lake level rose above the long-term annual average where it has remained. Currently, the Lake Superior water level is 2 feet above that mark. Lake Superior’s water levels are forecasted to be at, or near, record high levels through April 2020.

“In addition to the high-water levels, County Road 107 is affected by wind and waves traveling from up to 170 miles away, which increases wave energy and heightens erosive impacts on the shoreline and the undermining of the road,” Cadeau said.

Looking down the road
Meanwhile, the DNR, road commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation have been working over the past several months to develop multiple options for a long-term solution, identify funding sources and create a planning timeline.

A report outlining long-term options and cost estimates can be found at Michigan.gov/DNRPublicInput.

“We want the public to review these long-term options and let us know what solutions, natural features and impacts are important to them,” Maloney said. “The road commission and the DNR have also scheduled two public sessions to discuss the various long-term solution options with the public.”

Public input
First, the Ontonagon County Road Commission will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 14 at Ontonagon Public Schools cafeteria, 701 Parker Avenue in Ontonagon. Comments will be limited to 3 minutes. Written comments may also be submitted. Groups planning to comment on the options are asked to designate a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the group.

A second session is set for the same day and location. This meeting is being organized by the DNR to discuss the park's draft general management plan that will include a breakout session at 6:45 p.m. on the erosion of County Road 107.

“We encourage the public to attend for an opportunity to review planning materials and provide feedback,” Maloney said. “Public input is a critical part of this planning process.”

For those unable to attend, comments on the long-term options for County Road 107 may be sent through Aug. 31 via email to CadeauE@Michigan.gov.

Questions? Contact Mike Maloney, (Ontonagon County Road Commission) 906-884-2332, Eric Cadeau (DNR regional field planner) at 906-353-6651 or Michael Knack (Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park acting supervisor) at 906-885-5275.

Help shape park’s future through the General Management Plan

Porkies shoreline

The public is invited to help shape future management planning at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western Upper Peninsula.

General management plans are used to define a long-range planning and management strategy that protects a state park’s resources. A link to the draft plan and information on the DNR's management planning can be found at Michigan.gov/ParkManagementPlans.

"Gathering public input is a critical component of the planning process," said park management plan administrator Debbie Jensen. "Earlier this year, approximately 850 people responded to an online public input survey, which helped guide this first draft of the management plan."

Public input 
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting from 6-8 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Ontonagon High School cafeteria, 710 Parker Ave. in Ontonagon. 

The meeting will involve a short overview of the draft general management plan, followed by an open house during which the public is invited to review planning materials, provide feedback and talk to DNR Parks and Recreation staff.

In addition, at 6:45 p.m. EDT a special breakout session will provide background information and solicit feedback on shoreline protection project planning to address associated erosion occurring along Ontonagon County Road 107.

For those not able to attend, management planning comments may be sent to JensenD1@Michigan.gov.

Questions? Contact Debbie Jensen, DNR park management plan administrator, at 517-284-6105 or Michael Knack, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park acting supervisor, at 906-885-5275.

Background on the park and county road

At roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is Michigan’s largest state park. It's home to 35,000 acres of old-growth forest, roaring waterfalls, miles of rivers and streams, 90 miles trails, 21 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and spectacular sweeping vistas.

The park offers a range of recreation opportunities, including camping at modern and rustic campgrounds and cabins, backcountry camping, hiking, cross‐country skiing, disc golfing, hunting, fishing and wildlife and scenic viewing. The park is also home to Lake of the Clouds, the scenic Presque Isle River corridor, Porcupine Mountain Ski Area, the Wilderness Visitor Center and other natural signature attractions.Visit Michigan.gov/Porkies.

County Road 107 was built in 1935 and designated as M-107 by the Michigan State Highway Commission. In 1954, the entire length of M-107 was re-designated as the “107th Engineer Memorial Highway” by the Michigan Legislature.

Under the 2001 Michigan Memorial Highway Act (Public Act 142 of 2001), the Michigan Legislature renamed the route the “107th Engineer Memorial Road.” On June 4, 2008, the jurisdiction of the roadway was transferred to the Ontonagon County Road Commission, after 73 years of ownership and administration by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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