Nature Organizations Join Forces to Protect Echo Lake
New Nature Sanctuary in Marquette County Open for Free Public Access
MARQUETTE, MI | December 21, 2010
A new nature area is now open for free public access, thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s acquisition of the 480-acre Echo Lake in the Michigamme Highlands Area of Marquette County.
Just minutes from Marquette, this land will be open for foot access and activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, carry-in boating, deer hunting, and catch-and-release fishing. The Conservancy will work with local groups to help take care of the area and a local student intern will be hired every summer to help with land management.
The new sanctuary was made possible through a land gift from the J.A. Woollam Foundation and will be protected by a conservation easement held by the Michigan Nature Association (MNA), a partner of The Nature Conservancy.
“The previous owner has had incredible vision for this property and desires it to be kept as a conservation and recreational jewel for future generations,” said Tina Hall, director of conservation programs in Michigan for The Nature Conservancy. “The Conservancy will honor this vision and keep the property as a nature sanctuary, open to passive, non-motorized recreation for people and nature.”
MNA concurrently holds a conservation easement over the property which was donated by the J.A. Woollam Foundation prior to the land gift to the Conservancy. Conservation easements can play an important role in providing an extra level of protection to existing nature areas. The new nature sanctuary will be jointly monitored and managed by the two cooperating organizations.
“We’re proud to work with the J.A. Woollam Foundation and the Conservancy to build on our long history of protecting nature in the Upper Peninsula,” said Jeremy Emmi, executive director of the Michigan Nature Association. “This is an amazing opportunity to protect this land for future generations.”
Echo Lake, as well as other open and undeveloped land, provide vital habitat for many species of plants and wildlife to thrive in a natural state. This unique area provides excellent habitat to a diverse range of plant and wildlife species including:
- Relatively undisturbed natural land within the headwaters of the Harlow Creek watershed, which has a Class A water quality ranking. Protection of the property in its undeveloped and open space condition helps to ensure the quality and quantity of water resources for the region.
- Echo Lake, the primary water source of Harlow Creek, is a 25-acre natural lake surrounded by a landscape of dramatic relief with high bluffs of exposed bedrock. The site also provides watershed protection for several high elevation glacial lakes. Large areas, comprising roughly 25 percent of the property, of relatively tree-less open granite balds or outcroppings dominated by a stunted white pine/red oak forest community type could contain several state-rare plant species including: pine-drops, purple cliff-brake, dwarf bilberry, narrow-leaved gentian, and big-leaf sandwort.
- Premiere upland habitat for a variety of nesting neotropical migrants (alder flycatcher, oven bird, black-throated blue and green warbler, and magnolia warbler).
- Significant stands of relatively mature northern hardwood/eastern hemlock forest types (generally dominated by red oak, yellow birch and sugar maple) with little or no timber cutting for the past 50 years. A dense hemlock conifer area offers crucial “thermal cover” for large mammals (white tailed deer and moose) in harsh Upper Peninsula winters.
“The Nature Conservancy would like to thank the J. A. Woollam Foundation for its generous gift to the residents of Michigan,” Hall said. “Now, this undeveloped inland lake area with its sweeping views of Lake Superior, unique woodlands and critical habitat will be protected in perpetuity for both humans and wildlife.”
The Michigan Nature Association is committed to the protection and maintenance of Michigan’s natural areas, in addition to the study of natural history and conservation education. For more than fifty years, MNA has worked to acquire more than 160 nature sanctuaries in nearly 60 counties from the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula all the way to the Indiana/Ohio border. For more information on MNA and current initiatives, visit www.michigannature.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.