The Old Road
Pump-Fed Power Plant Project
The best view of the Vaarunvuoret landmark, the steep Vaarunjyrkkä rock wall descending into Korospohjanlahti Bay on Lake Päijänne, is from down on the lake. A marked trail runs along the edge of the cliff, allowing hikers to admire the sparkling waters of Lake Päijänne from a height of more than a hundred metres.
The old Vanha Vaaruntie road connecting Luhanka and Kärkiset was built in 1851. The Kärkiset ferry opened for traffic across Päijänne in 1856. Vanha Vaaruntie was known for its steepness. In the 1910s, bicycling around Lake Päijänne via the Vanha Vaaruntie road was considered a test of manhood for youngsters from the Kymenlaakso Region. In the 1930s, buses began to travel regularly on the road. For first-timers, the journey was always memorable - passengers had to get off the bus before the ascent, and the men were even required to give the bus a push uphill. The current main road was built in the 1980s, leaving Vanha Vaaruntie to become a maintenance track. Today, the hiking trail runs partially along Vanha Vaaruntie.
From the late 1890s until 1950, the eastern shore of Korospohjanlahti Bay boasted the most important port of Putkilahti village. Steamers sailing to the port included the Kaima, Jyväskylä, Suomi and Taru, among other vessels. In addition to the pier, Korospohja housed storehouses, a boatmen's sauna and an important intermediate landing for timber. Boat traffic waned in the 1950s, and the docks fell into disrepair. Today, the spot has a landing place with access to the Vaarunvuoret area.
Pump-Fed Power Plant Project
In the 1970s, the power company Imatran Voima Oy began to make plans for a pump-fed power plant in Vaarunvuoret. The purpose of a pump-fed power plant is to balance consumption peaks in the demand for electricity. The idea is to use power from nuclear power plants to pump water into the head pond of the plant at night and during weekends, when the supply of electricity exceeds the demand. During the day, the water is led through turbines and run back down via a tunnel. At Vaarunvuoret, the power plant's head pond would have covered a roughly one-square-kilometre area on top of the Vaarunjyrkkä cliff, destroying, for example, the precious herb-rich forest of Särkijärvi. A machine station as well as water and lift ducts would have been dug into the rock. The plan was to build the mouths of the tunnels as well as driveways, switchyard and personnel facilities into the rock wall descending into Korospohjanlahti.
In effect, the power plant would have destroyed the continuity of the area's landscape, decimating the natural attributes that have been generally acknowledged ever since the 19th century. Not surprisingly, the project was met with wide-scale resistance – despite several complaints, however, the plant was granted a 10-year building permit in 1982. This gave rise to the Vaarunvuori movement that took a visible stand for the protection of Vaarunvuoret. The opposition on the one hand, and the freeze on building more nuclear power plants on the other, postponed the project. In 1993, Imatran Voima Oy applied for a renewal of the building permit, which the Supreme Administrative Court granted for 1995-2001. In the late 1990s, however, Imatran Voima Oy withdrew from the project, citing the opening up of the Scandinavian power markets, among other reasons.
The Oittila brook-side grove is a herb-rich forest in the Vaarunvuoret area, and it was protected at the landowners' request in 1946, becoming the first nature reserve in Central Finland. The Vaarunjyrkkä herb-rich forest was placed under protection the following year. In 1998, Vaarunvuoret was included in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, after which several small nature reserves were established on privately-owned lands. In 2001, the majority of the area was bought by the state for nature conservation purposes and delegated to the management of Metsähallitus. Today, sections of the Vaarunvuoret area are included in national herb-rich forest, shoreline, bog and old-growth forest conservation programmes. In addition, the area is a part of the nationally significant landscape of Putkilahti.