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The Dead River Lives On

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

It's official! The Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy (UPLC), with the help of the Nature Conservancy, several foundations including the Community Foundation of Marquette County, local businesses, and hundreds of individuals like you, raised more than $250,000 over the last 4 years to purchase two properties known collectively as the Dead River Community Forest. As of October 5th, 2022, the Dead River Community Forest is 186 acres of perpetually protected, healthy forest habitat that contains 3.5 miles of winding river frontage and breathtaking natural scenery.

What is the Dead River Community Forest?

The Dead River Community Forest (DCRF) is an incredible area of wilderness in Negaunee Township just on the edge of an expanding commercial area. The location holds critical natural resources and wildlife habitat. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the DRCF plays an important role in protecting the quality of groundwater

systems that flow into our community’s drinking water and sustain local fisheries.

Further, a field survey conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel found 43 unique bird species on the property, and in Spring 2021, a nesting pair of Bald Eagles were spotted! A search of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) Rare Species Explorer shows that 34 rare, native species are found on the project parcels. Additionally, the rock glade landform present throughout the DRCF is listed by the MNFI as a rare ecosystem. This collaborative project is called the Dead River Community Forest because the main focus of the project is to directly engage and involve our community in every aspect of the acquisition, planning, and management of this unique area. This project aims to enhance our local economy and promote a collective focus on protecting nature in order to preserve the quality of life we currently enjoy in Marquette County to future generations of residents and visitors.

When Can I Visit the Dead River Community Forest?

With your financial and volunteer support, future plans for the Community Forest include around 5 miles of multi-use trails - including accessible trails which comply with American Disability Act standards- and an outdoor classroom in partnership with local educational institutions.

Until UPLC has fully completed the necessary infrastructure, we thank you for respectfully refraining from accessing the properties until construction is complete. UPLC Executive Director, Andrea Denham, explains “By abstaining from visiting the property, you are honoring the sensitive wildlife habitat, protecting clean water from sedimentation and slopes from erosion as well as preventing the accidental creation of confusing social trails. Future trails will be designed to provide access AND protect sensitive plants, animals, and soils. Even a small handful of individuals wandering can have long-lasting impacts that will be difficult and expensive for us to repair”. UPLC intends to host guided tours of the property in the near future. When asked about the timetable for trail building, Denham says, "We hope to begin building trails next summer. Please consider including the DRCF trails in your financial and volunteer plans!”

How Can I Support the Future of the Dead River Community Forest Today?

UPLC has been working with many groups of neighbors and other organizations for years to plan the Dead River Community Forest. UPLC will continue communicating and collaborating with the community - that means you! - and a variety of local and regional organizations regarding community-desired uses and best management practices for this area. Ensuring the community resources at the Dead River Community Forest are protected honors local history and ways of life while ensuring economic longevity for the community. UPLC believes that having an accessible natural area within a short distance of town is an amazing asset to the folks who live, work, learn, and visit the greater Marquette area and such an asset is a distinctive part of the unique lifestyle that residing in the Upper Peninsula provides. Furthermore, the Forest will be actively managed for timber and non-timber forest products, honoring and ensuring the continuation of traditional income sources for this area. UPLC encourages all DRCF supporters to follow our social media (@UPLandConservancy) to stay up-to-date on upcoming opportunities for community input, guided tours, and more at the Forest!

The Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to preserve “Land Today for Life Tomorrow” across the UP by means of the permanent, legal protection of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for the benefit of the community.

We can't do it alone-

we need your support now more than ever to conserve the unique land and way of life here. Please consider donating to our cause at

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