Community Forest

The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve has worked to permanently protect forest and river in northern Marquette County through the creation of the Yellow Dog River Community Forest. The group has been working since 2013 to acquire property along the Yellow Dog River in strategic areas, some which contain habitat for rare species as well as public access for recreation. The purchase of the Community Forest was completed on September 29th, 2016. The project protects 688 acres of forest, wetland, and granite mountains as well as 5.2 miles of river, stream, and tributary. Read more about the Natural Features of the Community Forest.


Historically, the Great Lakes states were once covered with large swaths of mature forest. According to the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Wetland and Habitat Initiative, over 60% of these forests have been converted to non-forest land types. That trend still continues today and across our nation’s landscapes, forest ownership trends show that large, contiguous areas of forest are being divided and sold off into small, private parcels. Often times the landscape is then developed and forest cover become fragmented. A report was published in 2007 entitled Large Tract Forest Ownership Change which states that from 1996-2006, 31 million acres of forestland were sold, mostly to financial investment firms. That trend is occurring in the Upper Peninsula, with Marquette County leading the largest decline in contiguous large tract ownership adjacent to urban areas, a 37% loss over 11 years. Roughly 400 acres of the county are converted to non-forest each year. At this rate, 4,000 acres of forest would be converted over the next decade. Demand for recreational property has been strong, especially large parcels with lake or stream frontage. 

If this trend were to occur near the Yellow Dog River, the forest and river corridor would be altered drastically. The creation of smaller, private lots bring with it the likelihood of more roads, power lines, cleared surfaces, and septic systems. Public access would be lost, the forest converted, and wildlife habitat reduced. Projects like the Yellow Dog River Community Forest will ensure the future of the river will look very similar to how it does currently, as a natural area open to the community for a variety of uses. Read more about the Community Forest Benefits.

With the property now purchased, YDWP is using the Community Forest Model, which puts the decision making and management in the hands of many instead of few. Through the Public Participation Process, the project will create committees, engage partners, and design methods for creating consensus over the future of the Community Forest. Read more about the Public Participation Process. More information about the Community Forest Model and examples of other Community Forests can be found online by clicking the links below:

Cooley-Jericho Community Forest

Machias River Community Forest

Trust for Public Land’s Community Forest Report

Our community came together to provide input on the management of the area and the results can be found here in our Yellow Dog River Community Forest Plan with Forestry Plan

You can support our long term stewardship of the Community Forest by sending a check or cash via mail to the address below:
Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve
P.O. Box 5
Big Bay, MI 49808

You can also click below on the Donate button to send contributions via PayPal.

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