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Evan McDonald,Tom Melius and Stacy Welling-Haughey celebrate the protection of Lake Superior coastal wetlands. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Evan McDonald,Tom Melius and Stacy Welling-Haughey celebrate the protection of Lake Superior coastal wetlands. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan’s Abbaye Peninsula:
Protecting coastal wetlands for wildlife and people

Catching a glimpse of a bald eagle soaring above you on a crisp autumn day just got even more likely on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, thanks to outdoor enthusiasts and dedicated conservationists. With the support of a host of organizations, 1,374 acres and nearly a mile of Lake Superior shoreline are now permanently protected for wildlife and recreationalists.

Together with the Keewenaw Land Trust and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, we celebrated the dedication of public lands on the Abbaye Peninsula, part of the Huron Bay Conservation Initiative in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. On October 11, 2016, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Tom Melius was joined by Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Keewenaw Land Trust leadership to mark the occasion.

These protected lands provide important wildlife habitat, help maintain air and water quality, and provide the public with scenic views, access, education and recreation. The project will also enhance regional tourism that benefits the economy of Upper Michigan. The lands will be owned and managed by the Keweenaw Land Trust.

“The Lake Superior basin has diverse, healthy and ecologically-significant habitats, with the Keweenaw and Abbaye peninsulas being particularly important for migratory birds like raptors, songbirds and waterfowl,” said Keewenaw Land Trust Executive Director Evan McDonald.

“The project area’s large, forested wetlands, creeks and ponds will perpetually support a wide variety of wildlife and native plants. The protection of these coastal habitats is essential to maintain a healthy near shore environment that supports Lake Superior’s food web and its commercial and recreational fisheries.”

This project was made possible by a $1 million U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program grant from 2015 and more than $1.1 million in matching funds that were provided by private foundations, individual donors and bargain sales offered by the landowners.

"The diversity and abundance of fish and wildlife that use the Abbaye Peninsula are a testament to the quality and significance of the land and water around us,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Tom Melius.“Bald eagles, coaster brook trout, waterfowl and lake trout – and the people who enjoy these resources – will benefit now and in the future.”

The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program provides critical funding to protect some of the nation’s most fragile and at-risk wildlife habitats along the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lakes coastlines. Funds for the program are generated, in part, through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources served as the grant administrator for this important project.

“All of the project lands will be open to the public, with fishing, hunting, skiing and other valuable recreational opportunities available here,” said Department of Natural Resources Upper Peninsula Regional Coordinator Stacy Welling-Haughey. “This project aligns with DNR goals and complements several other initiatives in the area, including the Pilgrim River Watershed Project.”

In addition to protecting some of the country’s most important wildlife habitat, the grant program creates much needed recreational activities for all Americans. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and birdwatching benefit communities near wetland projects.

Partner funding for this project was provided by the J.A. Woollam Foundation, the Carls Foundation, Leuthold Family Foundation, Americana Foundation, Shaw and Betty Walker Foundation, Soyring Family Foundation, Michigan Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Copper Country Audubon, Michigan Nature Association, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and the Community Foundation of the Upper Peninsula. In addition, many individuals made donations to support these land acquisitions.

From partner news release

National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program funds is helping to protect more than 1,300 acres of habitat and a mile of Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Photo by USFWS.

National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program funds is helping to protect more than 1,300 acres of habitat and a mile of Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Photo by USFWS.

 

Last updated: November 9, 2016