MARQUETTE - A handful of people volunteered last weekend to help the Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition curb erosion on Little Presque Isle.
The coalition, in conjunction with a conservation team from the Access Fund, a national not-for-profit climbing advocacy group, set to work Friday and Saturday last week using deadfalls to block off footpaths to areas that have suffered severely from erosion.
"The weekend was great!" coalition member Jason Schneider. "We had eight people on Friday and seven on Saturday and got a ton of work done. It was really great to work with (Access Fund) trail maintenance pros that travel the country working with local climbing groups."
Volunteers for the Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition haul logs and stones to create deadfalls on Little Presque Isle last weekend in order to prevent foot traffic in areas on the island where erosion has become a problem. The coalition seeks to maintain access to the area's limited climbing resources, and does maintenance work to demonstrate that they value conservation efforts as well as to foster good relationships with local landowners and the Department of Natural Resources. (Photo courtesy Jason Schneider)
The first thing the group did, Schneider said, was take a walk through the island to identify problems areas and get a feel for what needed the most attention.
"The biggest issue of concern is the big sand hill that everyone hikes up to get to the jumping rocks area," Schneider said. "We used a lot of deadfall to block off access to the worst erosion areas and created a nice switchback to bypass the hill. It makes the walk up hill way nicer for people and prevents further erosion."
The U.P. Climbers Coalition hopes, through work projects like this one, to foster better relationships between climbers and area landowners, as well as with the Department of Natural Resources, who endorsed the project.
"I think work like this really helps landowners and managers understand that climbers want to be as respectful as possible to the areas that we use," Schneider said. "Being able to work with the DNR and a national climbing organization on projects like this and on Slug's Bluff in Palmer last year are tremendously valuable in building relationships between climbers and landowners/managers."
Schneider said the DNR was very supportive of the project, as state funding for these types of conservation efforts is limited. The coalition decided to focus this year on Little Presque Isle because the fruits of their labor could be enjoyed by a wide range of people, not just climbers.
"State funding is so tight and they just don't have the resources to do all the work that needs to be done, and they were very appreciative that a local user group was willing to organize the work," Schneider said. "...Our work at Slug's bluff went really well, but that area is pretty much only used by climbers, and we wanted to do something more public that benefits multiple user groups ... Hopefully when we start working on a project for next year, we can work with the DNR or landowners in a similar capacity."
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-228-2500. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.