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Michigamme Highlands project

Michigamme Highlands

Michigamme Highlands project

A view through a leafy forest opening showing a valley and blue sky

Protecting critical forestlands

The Upper Peninsula’s Michigamme Highlands includes some of the most important natural geography in the Great Lakes region. This exceptional place includes forests, lakes, trout streams and wetlands, Michigan’s highest natural point, Mount Arvon, and is the most climate-resilient landscape in Michigan.

In partnership with Lyme Great Lakes Timberlands, the DNR is working to protect 73,000 acres of this landscape in Baraga, Iron and Marquette counties through a working forest conservation easement. A conservation easement would prevent fragmentation, ensure sustainable forest management and secure public recreational access.

Project status

The DNR is working to secure grant funding to complete the Michigamme Highlands project. An application was submitted to the USDA Forest Service in September 2022 seeking federal 2024 Forest Legacy Program funding.

With the release of the president’s budget in March 2023, the Michigamme Highlands project ranked No. 2 in the country for funding.

Next steps will begin with congressional action enacting the 2024 federal budget. Work is also underway to secure nonfederal matching funds.

Two fuzzy deer in a winter forest

Collaboration and community engagement

The DNR and Lyme Great Lakes Timberlands are collaborating with interested parties and stakeholders on the project. These include local, state and federal officials, local governments, tribal entities, businesses, forestry and habitat groups, recreational organizations and conservation organizations.

Engagement has included in-person meetings, email updates and a virtual stakeholder information session. This collaboration has helped inform the direction and focus of the project. Public outreach including meetings and site tours is planned for summer 2023.

Michigamme Highlands_Map

Benefits of permanent conservation

Why is this important

A sign in the deep forest reads: "Mt. Arvon, you have reached Michigan's highest point"

The conservation easement will ensure permanent public recreational access to these lands for hunting, fishing, kayaking, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, designated ORV use, camping and hiking. It will also provide public access to Michigan's highest natural point, Mount Arvon, at 1,979 feet. The property borders 70 miles of state and federal lands, a natural extension for public use.

A sandhill crane flies over wetlands

Michigamme Highlands contains high-quality habitat home to moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, pine martens, fishers, ruffed grouse, raptors and songbirds. The property includes the site where moose were reintroduced in the 1980s from Canada. It also contains over 4,800 acres of critical winter deer habitat. The project will ensure appropriate management of these habitats.

A peaceful blue lake surrounded by forest and clear skies

Michigamme Highlands includes more than 37 miles of rivers, 220 miles of perennial and intermittent streams, 96 ponds and lakes and over 13,600 acres of wetlands. These important waters provide habitat for fish including salmon, bass and pike, the legendary coaster brook trout, and brook, brown and rainbow trout.

Machinery is used to harvest trees in a forest setting

The conservation easement will ensure that the forest is managed sustainably and keeps the working forest working. The property provides an estimated $4 million in local economic impact and 47 forestry jobs. The property will remain privately owned, maintaining local tax revenue.


Email Forest Legacy Program coordinator Kerry Heckman for more project information.