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Contact: Jim Northup, 906-387-2607, ext 202
"This action was called for under the park's new General Management Plan approved in 2004," explained Lakeshore superintendent Jim Northup. "This plan calls for providing additional and more convenient access to significant features on the either end of the national lakeshore, while preserving the central portion of the park in a primitive, relatively undisturbed state," Northup added.
Under this plan, 11,740 acres of the Beaver Basin (not including the Little Beaver Campground Road, the campground itself, or the Beaver Basin overlook) is to be managed under a Primitive Zone Prescription and has been proposed for formal wilderness designation, Northup explained.
"The Primitive Zone Prescription provides outstanding opportunities for unconfined recreation, solitude, and a sense of remoteness where natural processes and conditions predominate," according to Northup. "The removal of this last remaining building moves the lakeshore closer to restoring natural conditions within the Beaver Basin to provide for that type of experience."
"Under the new GMP, we are striving to allow for a broad range of appropriate recreational opportunities within the entire national lakeshore, commensurate with our Congressional mandate to preserve and protect the park's natural and cultural resources unimpaired for future generations," Northup explained.
"That is part of what makes this park so wonderful. There are developed areas where you can find visitor centers and nice bathrooms, places where you can drive, use a motor boat, a personal watercraft or a snowmobile, places where you can camp near your car, places where we preserve and interpret the important human history that has occurred here, there are easy walks to beautiful places," Northup continued. "And then there are places where you have to hike under your own power, use your outdoor skills and will have the opportunity to experience quiet, solitude and nature on its own terms. Under the new GMP, the Beaver Basin will be one of those quiet places."
According to Northup, the area being managed under this Primitive Management Prescription within the Beaver Basin is 16 percent of the total acreage within the entire national lakeshore.
"It is important to remember that over 50 percent of this park is managed as the 'Inland Buffer Zone' where sustained yield timber harvests and some private homes are permitted," remarked Northup. "This is highly unusual for any unit of the national park system. In fact, Pictured Rocks is the only national park with a designated buffer zone where these types of activities are allowed." The remaining 46 percent of the park, known as the Shoreline Zone, allows for a broad range of recreational opportunities.
"With the upcoming paving of H-58 by Alger County, expansion of the parking lot at Miners Beach, paving of the Log Slide Road, establishment of a boat-in campsite on Grand Sable Lake and other improvements being made under the GMP, it is imperative that we also keep our promises to the public who made it clear that they also want to have opportunities for a more primitive and challenging outdoor experience," Northup said. "Our goal is to have a spectrum of experiences available for park visitors."
As called for in the GMP, backcountry trails and campsites will continue to be maintained within the Beaver Basin. Electric motors will continue to be allowed on Little Beaver and Beaver Lakes. The area remains open for all other forms of legal recreation including hiking, camping, hunting and fishing. Motor boats on Lake Superior are welcome to land along this section of beach within the Lakeshore. "At this point even final wilderness designation will not change anything about the way the lakeshore is managing the Beaver Basin, or limit public access or use in any way," Northup emphasized.
"In fact, I was hiking in the Beaver Basin in late October, and it was marvelous," Northup remarked. "Every time I wander into a remote part of the park, I am once again reminded of how very special and beautiful this park is. We are so lucky as a nation to have some wild places remaining, where you can go and not see or hear anything that is human-made. I'm glad we can provide that experience in this portion of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore."
"The old garage was unused in the Beaver Basin, and will eventually be reconstructed at the Grand Marais district maintenance yard," Northup concluded. "Our maintenance staff has done an excellent job of rehabilitating the former garage site to a more natural condition."