LANSING — State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) announced today that the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has recommended that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division receive $600,000 to acquire about 80 acres to preserve and provide public access to the U.P’s Hammell Creek Gorge and Houghton-Douglass Falls. A bill approving the grants will have to be passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“I am very pleased that the DNR will be able to buy this land and provide safe access to the Houghton-Douglass Falls,” said Dianda. “Tourism is so important to the U.P. economy. It’s better for the DNR to be in charge of the falls so that people know where they are and can hike to and view them safely.”

Last spring, Dianda introduced House Resolution 38, urging the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to acquire the land surrounding the Houghton-Douglass Falls, which are on private land, in the Keweenaw Peninsula.   

While recently updating their recreation plan, Houghton County officials found much public support for public acquisition of these lands. The falls consist of several streams bouncing off sharp, volcanic rock. The view from the top is of Torch Lake in the valley below. The 63 acres surrounding the waterfalls border state-owned rail trails and state highway M-26. Many guides list it as a “must-see” attraction, but visitors are technically trespassing when they make the hike in search of the falls.

The property that the DNR will acquire will also serve as a trailhead for the Hancock to Laurium Rail Trail. The DNR plans to partner with the Houghton Keweenaw County Recreation Authority and the charter township of Calumet to develop and maintain the property as a scenic site.       

The MNRTF is a restricted fund established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals. Over the past 39 years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve recreation opportunities in Michigan.