Elk Forest land deal adds lakes, woods and celebrated trout stream to state public lands
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MI – As a child I spent many hours with my parents from the early spring to late fall in the Pigeon River State Forest. This land holds a very special place in my heart and soul.
My father was an avid and very knowledgeable trout fisherman. His love for the Black River was well known. He knew where the good places were to fish for beautiful brook trout.
With the addition of another 597 acres of land to this managed forest system, this would have pleased both of my parents. My mother always said that she was most at peace when they were camping along the banks of the Black River. I can still see her out by a small campfire reading a book or talking with friends that would join them most any time they would vacation there.
This forest holds wonderful memories of getting up early in the morning to go out to pick incredible sweet wild blueberries. I would take them back to camp where we would clean them up to make blueberry pancakes over a campfire that were like none other.
Until the purchase of the current land, there were 108,000 acres in this state owned and managed forest system. It is honestly one of Michigan’s premier destinations to connect with nature.
You will find three world-class trout streams that wind through forests and wetlands where you if you watch closely you might see stunning wild elk roaming in a place that is a natural home to them.
A Department of Natural Resources land deal, valued at more than $2 million, finalized last month adds 597 acres in Montmorency County to Michigan’s public lands.
This important area is surrounded on three sides by existing state-managed land and will become part of the Pigeon River Country State Forest, known to many as “the Big Wild.”
“This spectacular place adds a gem to the crown of Michigan’s public lands,” said DNR Forest Resources Division Chief Debbie Begalle. “The land will be open for hiking, hunting, fishing, elk viewing, skiing, snowshoeing, bird watching, mushroom hunting and berry picking, to name just a few activities.”
The purchase provides public access to Walled Lake, a spring-fed, 44-acre double sinkhole lake. A smaller lake and pond are nearby. Adventurers also will enjoy the addition of more than a mile of the Black River, a top-quality trout stream, and a half-mile of Hardwood Creek.
“This area is full of wildlife,” said Kerry Wieber, DNR forest land administrator. “It offers opportunities for hunters to pursue game species such as elk, white-tailed deer, black bear and ruffed grouse, as well as opportunities for wildlife watchers to catch a glimpse of nongame species such as red-shouldered hawk, loons and pine marten.
This land deal conserves from development one of the biggest privately owned parcels in Michigan’s core elk range. That in turn protects the Cheboygan River watershed, a critical area for groundwater recharge. It also prevents groundwater contamination through the area’s “karst lakes;” the sinkholes that form the lakes and are directly connected to the groundwater beneath. The forest on the property will be dual-certified as sustainably managed by the Sustainable Forest Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council. This will ensure forest management that promotes biological diversity, health and habitat.”
The last time that I went back to that forest, and it had been many years, we came upon a place that I know extremely well. As I got out of my car, it was all I could do to hold back the tears and emotion that had caught me by surprise. I was standing in a place that honestly had not changed one bit. It was exactly as I had remembered it.
Remember, you are a guest in the forest. Treat the land and the animals that call it home with respect and they will give you knowledge and education that you will not find in any other place.