Wagner Lake at Wilderness Lakes Reserve
Wagner Lake is one of 26 lakes within the Wilderness Lakes Reserve. © Jason Whalen/Big Foot Media

Places We Protect

Wilderness Lakes Reserve

In a state rich with natural beauty, Wilderness Lakes Reserve stands out.

Why is this place significant?

Wilderness Lakes Reserve sits amidst the northern forests of the Great Lakes. The northern forests are some of the largest remaining unbroken swaths of hardwood forest in North America, playing critical roles for the health of the region: These rich forests moderate regional climate, remove carbon from the atmosphere, filter the headwaters of the Great Lakes, provide critical habitat and migration corridors for a wide range of species, and support major economic drivers such as timber, recreation and tourism.

What can I see here?

The Michigamme Highlands are known for containing a diverse range of habitats and the Reserve is a good example. Forests, wetlands, lakes, rivers and rock outcroppings all connect together in a relatively intact and pristine area. Forests on the property include a mix of conifers and hardwoods, including eastern white pine, northern white cedar and yellow birch. These communities provide diverse habitat for rare and threatened animal species including northern goshawk, eastern gray wolf, moose, bobcat and loon.

The property contains high-quality examples of white cedar seepage swamp, a unique wetland known for its remarkable number of plant species, including blueberries, native honeysuckles, ferns, orchids, mosses and sedges.

Wilderness Lakes Reserve Map

The 6,177-acre Wilderness Lakes Reserve lies adjacent to the neighboring Craig Lake State Park, creating a 14,500-acre protected area in one of Michigan’s most iconic landscapes. Together, these properties protect critical wildlife corridors, a priority as part of our forest conservation vision for the Michigamme Highlands.

In addition to spectacular forests—including eastern white pine, northern white cedar, sugar maple and yellow birch—the reserve is interspersed with a rich and varied landscape of lakes and wetlands.

HIGHLIGHTS

·  Twenty-six glacial lakes, including six named lakes: the largest, Loon Lake, is one mile long and 35 feet deep.
·  One thousand acres of wetlands, which provide habitat for several rare plants such as the Laurentian bladder fern and bog gentian.
·  Habitat for rare and threatened animal species including northern goshawk, eastern gray wolf, moose, bobcat and loon.
·  High-quality white cedar seepage swamp, a conservation priority habitat for a high number of plant species.
·  The headwaters of the Peshekee and Sturgeon Rivers, which flow into two Great Lakes and play an important role in water quality for the region.
·  Crossed by the North Country Trailthe longest U.S. National Scenic Trail, which runs 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York. 

The Nature Conservancy is managing this property as a Forest Reserve, following sustainable forestry practices that build forest health and resilience, such as selective harvesting to improve biodiversity, and ensure critical protection of wetlands and buffers around the many lakes, rivers and streams. The entirety of the property will receive Forest Stewardship Council certification and be enrolled in the State of Michigan’s Commercial Forest Program (500 acres are currently enrolled).

TNC hopes to use this project as a model for other forest landowners around the region by demonstrating the possibility to manage forests in a way that promotes ecological values and reaps direct economic benefits.

 

See More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 383,000 acres across Michigan. Discover more of these special places!