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Protected Lands

Traverse Island Conservation Easement

 
 

Acres: 91
Established: 2010
County: Houghton
Category: Private Conservation Easement

Also known as Rabbit Island, the Traverse Island conservation easement was established in 2010. The easement protects nearly all of the island, save for one sliver on the southern shore. Located off the eastern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Traverse Island has a unique environment all to its own. Like Manitou Island to the north, there are no deer or other large grazing species found here. As a result, the forest understory is surprisingly dense compared to the mainland just 2 miles away. The forest is somewhat stunted due to the harsh island climate and shallow soils but is biologically rich and provides cover for a plethora of insects, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. A great blue heron rookery once thrived on the island but has since been abandoned as populations fluctuate across the region. Other colonial birds frequently use the rocky shoreline for nesting. A family of bald eagles has built a large nest in a white pine overlooking the mainland, seemingly watching over passersby on their way past the island.

Traverse Island is currently undeveloped and has historically been used as a small outpost for fishermen plying Keweenaw Bay. Precambrian Jacobsville sandstone makes up the underlying bedrock and shoreline, the exact makeup of which is unique to the area. The island lies along a shoal that provides critical spawning ground for lake trout and other fish species found in the bay. Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Ojibwa still frequent these waters for their healthy fish stock.

The current owner of the property has set up an artist-in-residence program on the island to promote quiet reflection and study of the island's unique natural and geological resources. However, the landowner requests that the island remain private to uninvited visitors. Boaters and kayakers are free to enjoy the scenic beauty of the island from the water.

More information on the project can be viewed at rabbitisland.org.

 

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