Michigan’s 108,000-acre acre Pigeon River Country State Forest, known to many as “the Big Wild” and the core of that state’s elk range, is now 597 acres larger. The $2 million Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) transaction happened, in part, thanks to a $75,000 donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
“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 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is pleased to collaborate on the strategic protection of important elk habitat within the Pigeon River Country State Forest,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Our partnership with DNR and the staff’s efforts to acquire and maintain quality elk habitat means an increase in quality management and public access.”
The purchase provides 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. Upland from the lake and river, a forest of mixed pine, aspen and oak is a thriving wildlife haven, and near the water, wetland plants such as wild cranberry and carnivorous pitcher plants grow beneath a canopy of cedar.
“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 non-game species such as red-shouldered hawk, loons and pine marten.”
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(Photo source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)