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Churning Rapids Conservation Easement


Acres: 770
Established: 2002
County: Houghton
Category: Public Conservation Easement

Thanks to owners Terry Kinzel and Sue Ellen Kingsley the public enjoys an extensive trail system linked to the City of Hancock's Maasto Hiihto trail system on 770 acres under conservation easement. This large tract of undeveloped land consists of a unique mosaic of mixed hardwood, aspen, spruce-fir, and lowland swamp forests interspersed with open fields, successional edge areas, and wetlands, over a rolling topography traversed by Spring and Finney Creeks and unnamed seasonal tributaries. The mature forests in the northern portion contain diverse native species including an uncommon number of large diameter red oak and small stands of old growth hemlock. Ruby Marsh dominates the southern portion of the property, traversed by a 400-foot boardwalk.

This area provides significant wildlife habitat for a diversity of plants and animals, including far-ranging mammals, with excellent viewing provided by an onsite observation tower. Conservation goals include maintenance of a large natural area with recreation trails for non-motorized use, management of the forest to encourage biological diversity, wildlife habitat, and water quality protection. Kinzel and Kingsley also want to manage the property in such a way as to encourage similar easements and land practices on property contiguous or in proximity to theirs.

In prior years, over-harvesting of trees took its toll on much of this landscape. A 490-acre portion of the property is now under a sustainable forest management plan and enrolled in the Commercial Forest Program; reforestation is taking place, and hundreds of people enjoy the trails in all seasons. While land protection agreements do not require public access, these visionary landowners chose to promote it as part of a multi-use plan for their land. A 490-acre easement was established in 2002 after the land was heavily logged, and an additional 280 acres of older growth forests was placed under a conservation easement in 2006. The contrast between the two is striking, as is the ongoing restoration efforts in the heavily logged area.

Churning Rapids is open to the public daily for non-motorized recreational enjoyment. Terry and Sue Ellen have worked with the local Keweenaw Trails group to enhance and expand their trail network alongside the nearby Maasto Hiihto trail system maintained by the City of Hancock. The trails are open for hiking and mountain biking through the warm months, and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during the winter. Visit the Keweenaw Trails website for more information on how to visit, trail maps, and news on trail closures.

"My dreams for it include allowing it to reforest and be managed as an uneven-aged northern hardwood timber stand that will become an ongoing economic asset to the community, and to remain an undeveloped area for community non-motorized recreation in perpetuity."


"I confess that I don't pay very close attention to whoever 'owns' the land, water or air through which I roam. So, it would be hypocritical of me to try to keep other large two-footed mammals off this property. Besides, when others become attached to the trails, they protect them and take care of them."





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