IRON MOUNTAIN - Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh planned to visit Piers Gorge in Norway for the first time Tuesday.
Piers Gorge, located off U.S. 8 in Norway, was purchased by the DNR in November to create the Menominee River State Recreation Area in Dickinson and Menominee counties.
The creation of this area would mean that Dickinson County would have its first state park. Creagh noted Dickinson County currently is the only county in the U.P. without a state park.
"We have got to make it a destination spot," Creagh told The Daily News. "We will see what it needs, and it should be user-friendly."
Details of the park plans have not been finalized, as both Michigan and Wisconsin officials will be managing the area, he said.
The 145.35 acres along 1.5 miles of the Menominee River features whitewater rapids, waterfalls and scenic, rocky gorges. The tracts also contain areas popular with hunters, anglers, and some of the fastest-moving water in Michigan or Wisconsin.
It is not navigable for general canoeing, but has become a popular destination for expert class kayakers seeking challenging Class IV whitewater. The parcel also contains good wildlife viewing opportunities for eagles, osprey and waterfowl, as well as public fishing access.
The DNR purchase included Quiver Falls.
Quiver Falls is eight miles south of Piers Gorge and contains 2,208.83 acres of land and provides eight miles of access along the Menominee River.
Quiver Falls is adjacent to the existing Menominee River Natural Resource Area, a 4,450-acre tract located north of Zaidel Road in Niagara along five miles of the Menominee River managed by both the Michigan and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources.
The Quiver Falls parcel contains river frontage on both sides of the Menominee River, scenic rocky gorges with significant drops in the river and waterfalls. The area is also popular with hunters and anglers, as well as sightseers.
Michigan offers a $10 Recreation Passport to all its parks.
Creagh said because of the great weather this summer, there were 1 million campers in Michigan this year for the first time since 2005.
There were 22 million visitors utilizing the passport program this summer, he said.
"This data is an outstanding success. If you don't have a recreation passport, support the Natural Resources by purchasing one," Creagh said.
Currently, the recreation passport can be purchased from the Secretary of State or at any State Park and soon DNR Service Centers and eventually online at michigan.gov/dnr.
Creagh said the DNR is working with its Citizen Advisory Councils on funding its priorities, and is also working closely with State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, on its wolf management plan.
Creagh added the DNR has not been very successful in battling Asian carp as six environmental DNA samples were found in Lake Erie.
"Diagnostics is very vigilant," he said.
Creagh also commented on the state's forest health, including diseases such as Oak Wilt and gypsy moths.
"Two-thirds (of the Oak Wilt trees) are dying and one-third of them are being harvested," he said. "We have an opportunity to take biomass and make great energy."
A Michigan Technological University graduate, Creagh said the people in the U.P. have great ingenuity and are passionate.
He said the state needs to find a way to sustain the U.P. energy issue to bring better jobs.
"Mining, forest, agriculture, recreation, and tourism are good paying jobs," Creagh said.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.