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Protected Lands

Huron Bay Field Station

 
 

Acres: 1,245
Established: 2015
County: Baraga
Category: Public Nature Area

A smaller peninsula, Point Abbaye, parallels the Keweenaw like a little brother. Like many little brothers, this one is wild, mostly undeveloped, and has its own personality…and mystique. Through partnership, persistence, and a lot of hard work, KLT cultivated its most significant land acquisition project to date, the Abbaye Peninsula - Huron Bay Conservation Initiative. In 2015, this Initiative received national recognition and a major boost with a $1 million grant from the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation program (NCWC) of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, matched by many private funders. The Initiative's first major success came later in 2015 with the purchase of the Huron Bay Field Station, a 1,245-acre nature area that forms the heart of the Abbaye Peninsula.

The Huron Bay Field Station's value as wildlife habitat cannot be overstated, with important coastal wetlands that support a diversity of migratory songbirds, raptors, and other native plants and animals. Conservation of this large tract is equally important for protection of the fisheries of Huron Bay, especially the vulnerable and productive nearshore aquatic habitats that could be damaged by improper development or overharvesting of the adjacent timberlands. Most of the property is classified as wetlands, which makes travel on foot or by vehicle difficult but offers a wide variety of habitats for native species to thrive in.

The property once operated as a high-fence commercial game farm facility registered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Exotic game species, including elk, wild boar, and non-native deer were brought in to support the operation. Even though the property is under new ownership and the exotic game removed, the game farm's legacy is still visible on the landscape in the 8 miles of 10-foot-tall fencing that surrounds this property. KLT, DNR, and Michigan Technological University researchers are exploring the ecological research and landscape restoration opportunities provided by the property and its previous management regimes. Ultimately, KLT hopes to remove the perimeter fence to restore natural wildlife movement, though some smaller fenced areas may remain for ongoing studies.

Along with the impressive 1,245 acre tract, the property includes a former game lodge, bunkhouse, and garage that KLT will use to support stewardship and outreach activities in the coming years. A loose network of two-tracks and pathways meanders through the property, though much of this has been flooded as beavers reclaim the landscape. A rough access road leads into the property through a locked gate at the exterior fence. No other public access points have been established as of 2016.

KLT is currently working to exterminate the deer living inside the fence to ensure no non-native genetic material escapes into the local white-tailed deer population. Until the deer inside have been completely removed, KLT must keep the gates locked and fence intact. Please do not damage the exterior fence, as this could impede our efforts to open this property to the general public.

 

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