Dead River Community Forest


Welcome to the Proposed

Dead River Community Forest

a Resource for Everyone


Explore the proposed Dead River
Community Forest with us on Saturday, July 21!

We’ll be taking off from the end of Brickyard Road at 10  (turn left past the new Meijer gas station), hiking through the Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve and on into the proposed Dead River Community Forest together. We’ll be off trail, bushwhacking our way along a future path down to the Dead River. This will be several miles of hiking, at times on steep slopes! Please come wearing sturdy hiking books, walking sticks as needed, and with food and water and anything else you’ll need to take care of yourself for a few hours away from a trail. UPLC staff will be there to guide you, AND so will a small film crew! We’ve been working all week creating a promotional video about the project that will be shared far and wide to help the community connect with this project. We want to include some bits with a group of folks out having fun in these woods–maybe you, too! Join us to see new rock cliffs, gentle sweeps in the river, beautiful wildflowers, huge trees, and maybe even a waterfall or three!


The Project

The proposed Dead River Community Forest will be a multi-partner collaboration that will protect and give public access to 190 acres of healthy, diverse riparian forest adjacent to the current Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve. The area has been eyed up for development of housing and high-profit timber management, but with your help, it will become a recreational and educational resource for the entire community.

We are currently in working partnerships with the Noquemenon Trail Network and the North Country National Scenic Trail (to help us build multi-use trails to the highest standard), the Cities and Townships of Marquette and Negaunee (to include this area in regional recreation plans), The Laughing Whitefish Chapter of the Audubon Society, Trout Unlimited to help us protect the incredible cold-water gravel bed areas of the river (read: fish) on this property, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to help us open the area to traditional harvests, The Chocolay Raptor Center, the Marquette County Conservation District and Lake to Lake Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area for assistance with the eradication and management of Non-Native Invasive Species and restoration of native plant species; and Green Timber Forestry Consultants and Compass Land Consultants to create a climate-change mitigation focused forest management plan to be used as a demonstration and education area for local landowners to learn how to combat climate change on their lands through sustainable forestry practices. We also plan on partnering with local schools, including Northern Michigan University, to create an outdoor learning classroom on the property.


Check out the Proposed DRCF trails here!

Our goals for the project are:

  1. To ensure the permanent protection of 186 acres of riparian forest by acquiring two high-value conservation parcels in the Dead River Basin
  2. To provide recreation opportunities that meet the needs and interests of the community by establishing multi-use trails and educational signage in those parcels after acquisition
  3. To actively engage the public in the land protection and management processes by forming genuine partnerships with diverse stakeholders
  4. To provide opportunities for the public to establish an emotional connection with the property, which will spur a sense of communal responsibility, by hosting informational meetings and active outings on the property prior to, during, and after establishing the properties.
  5. To expand outdoor educational opportunities for students and landowners to experience hands-on learning about the sustainable management of various UP ecosystems/habitats
  6. To initiate a climate-change mitigation-focused and restoration-based Forest Management Plan for the proposed Dead River Community Forest in order to further prepare the area for the current and future effects of climate change in that area.

Ambitious? Yep!

Needed? Totally.

Possible? Absolutely!


Next Steps

UPLC has been in negotiations about the future of this property with the current landowners for years, who are also excited to see it become a community resource. We have reached an agreement for price, and UPLC has currently applied for two major grants to make this community resource a reality. While we wait to hear back about this grants, though, we want to spread the word! The grants may cover most of the purchase price, but they won’t cover it all, nor will they cover the perpetual and long-term management costs such as building and maintaining trails, designing and installing interpretive signs, or staff time to put on educational events with our partners.

UPLC staff will be spending the summer (while we wait for word about the grants) applying for MORE grants, conducting public information sessions about the project, leading hikes on the property, and working with another grantor, Heart of the Lakes, to create a short and informative video about the proposed project that we can share with you.

What can you do? Well…the easiest and most immediately helpful thing is to donate. While we don’t have the exact number we’ll need (due to those grants we’re waiting on hearing about), we know it will be bare minimum $60,000 that we’ll need to raise even if we get both of the major grants we’ve currently submitted. You can also help us spread the word! Are you a part of an organization, a hiking group, an employee wellness group, a community of any kind that would be interested in benefiting from this amazing potential resource? We’ll come talk to them live and in person if you want (I’ll even bring infographics!), or you can bring them to one of our events like the hike on July 21st or an info session in the fall.

Midway creek winds its way around massive granite outcroppings on its way to the Dead River through the proposed Community Forest

Keep watching here, your inbox, and social media for updates!

In the meantime, check out this waterfall, we’re going to be building a trail so you can see it in person once we own the property.