Skegemog Wilderness Area

By now everyone on the shores of our lakes and rivers is well aware of the fantastic natural resource we have along the east shore of Lake Skegemog, fondly known as “the swamp.” Over the last 25 years, as a result of very hard work by dedicated volunteers, it has grown to be a 3300 acre natural area owned by the people of Michigan and jointly managed and maintained by the DNR and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC). To put its size into perspective, it’s over 500 acres larger than the area of Lake Skegemog and it has nearly seven miles of meandering shoreline. It contains a mixture of woods and wetlands which serve as a huge natural water filtration system for Elk and Skegemog Lakes as well as a natural habitat for thousands of plant and animal species.

We have many people to thank for years of hard work to preserve and protect this wonderful natural resource, but at the top of the list are Harry and June Janis, Warren and Sue Goodell, Paul and Delphine Welch, Bill and Pat Huxtable, Charles and Evelyn Drummonds and Nick and Audrey Thomas, just to name a few. They worked tirelessly with the State of Michigan, the DNR and the various conservancy organizations to bring these lands under the public domain to benefit the community as a whole.

Many of you have enjoyed walking on some of the miles of cleared pathways and boardwalks that traverse the wilderness area. There are trailheads in Barker Creek, off of Rapid City Road, at the intersection of Schneider Road and Round Lake Road and finally off of Torch River Road. There are two viewing platforms from where you can see what nature has provided from an improved vantage point. Throughout the area motorized vehicles are prohibited which means that a walk on the pathway is peaceful and serene.

Fortunately, the pathways don’t require a lot of upkeep. However there is some work that must be done from time to time. As an example, marking and maintaining the pathways, monitoring how the paths are being used, occasionally trimming overgrown vegetation and breaking up a beaver dam if the boardwalks become flooded. Limited funds and personnel of the DNR and GTRLC make it necessary for volunteers to pitch in periodically to visit the area and help with the projects. Currently, a group of volunteers consisting of riparians and others with a strong interest in preserving the swamp, have formed the Skegemog Wilderness Area Stewardship Committee. This group meets two or three times a year to stay up to date on issues and to occasionally help out the GTRLC people keep the pathways open and usable. The work is light duty and offers an excellent opportunity to spend a few hours in the wilderness for a good cause.

We can always use volunteers and committee members so if you would like to participate or join us for an hour or two of work please contact Dave Hauser at 620-75750 or e-mail to dave@davehauser.net.

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