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640 Acres of Land Purchased in Baraga County Connect Two Sections of a Reserve

Additional acres connect north and south tracts of Wilderness Lakes Reserve, create 11,667 acres of contiguous land to benefit wildlife.

River surrounded by green vegetation and trees on a sunny day.
Wilderness Lakes Reserve TNC's Wilderness Lakes Reserve in Baraga County, Michigan is a working forest reserve that demonstrates the power of natural climate solutions.

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The Nature Conservancy in Michigan (TNC) today announced the purchase of a 640-acre parcel of land in Baraga County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The land connects two portions of TNC’s Wilderness Lakes Reserve, which will now create 11,667 acres of forest. The reserve is next to Craig Lake State Park, the most remote state park in Michigan.

The additional 640 acres will be managed consistently with the rest of the Wilderness Lakes Reserve as a working forest, will be open to the public to foot access for hunting and fishing and will remain on the tax rolls.

“Wilderness Lakes Reserve features some of the most remote forestland in the Upper Peninsula, and we are thrilled to add an entire section of land—640 acres—to this reserve and provide 11,667 acres of land for gray wolves, black bear, moose and other wildlife to thrive,” said Helen Taylor, state director for TNC in Michigan. “This purchase also contributes to TNC’s global 2030 Goals of protecting 1.6 billion acres of land, 620,000 miles of streams and rivers, and 74 million acres of lakes and wetlands while creating more opportunities to sequester carbon and reduce emissions.”

The Wilderness Lakes Reserve is part of the Michigamme Highlands, which contain some of the largest unbroken swaths of northern temperate hardwood forest in North America. These forests play an important role in removing carbon from the atmosphere, filtering the headwaters of the Great Lakes, providing critical habitat for a wide range of species, and supporting major economic drivers such as timber, recreation and tourism.

Along with a healthy, intact forest, the land purchased by TNC also includes a 20-acre unnamed lake, headwater streams, high-quality wetlands and nearly one mile of the Peshekee River. The river is a tributary of Lake Michigamme, and its waters eventually flow into Lake Michigan through the Michigamme River and Menominee River.

“Protecting unfractured swaths of land like the Wilderness Lakes Reserve and the Michigamme Highlands is critical for wildlife and their habitats, carbon sequestration and so much more,” Taylor said. “This purchase will go down as a win for both people and nature, and we’re grateful for the opportunity.”

The Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy has held a working forest conservation easement on the land since 2015 and has been helpful in protecting the land and throughout TNC's acquisition.

The sale closed on December 15, 2023.

A map of the property is available here.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.