KEWEENAW PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – A new initiative has been launched with the mission to make the Keweenaw Peninsula more accessible.

It’s called the Accessible Keweenaw Initiative (AKI), and it’s been formed to assist the region by identifying opportunities and securing resources to make investments that will address mobility barriers at various sites in the Keweenaw. The Accessible Keweenaw Coalition (AKC) is comprised of Visit Keweenaw, the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, the Upper Peninsula Superior Alliance for Independent Living, and the Keweenaw Area Community Foundation. The initiative is made possible through a grant from the Keweenaw Area Community Foundation.

“Really, this kind of harkens back for community conversations for probably the better part of a decade in which we’ve recognized that in the Keweenaw, like a lot of places in the Upper Peninsula, we have an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Visit Keweenaw Executive Director Brad Barnett.

“We have an incredible number of points of interests and special places to explore. But generally speaking, they are not accessible to all. In many cases, these are undeveloped locations that the community loves, are near and dear to their heart, but they’ve just always been places we’ve explored and there’s never been an intentional effort to make sure that they are universally accessible for our community members and visitors. So that was really the starting point for this conversation is how do we make the Keweenaw one of the most accessible places in the Midwest for those who are really interested in history and the great outdoors,” said Barnett.

Brockway Mountain Drive in Eagle Harbor Township is one of the popular locations the project team hopes to make more accessible.

“It’s very easy to get to by vehicle, but once you get out of your vehicle, sometimes getting to those views are really challenging, especially if you have some challenges when it comes to mobility. So, if you’re somebody who utilizes a wheelchair, it’s very difficult to get around on Brockway Mountain Drive, so it’s not really well-suited for that,” said Barnett.

In the coming months, AKI will coordinate a series of site assessments by trained experts to identify projects in accordance with accessibility standards and guidelines. After the first phase, the AKC will work with community partners to submit proposals to local, state and federal funding partners. These partners could help implement projects to enhance the Keweenaw’s quality of life and outdoor accessibility.

To learn more about the initiative, click here.