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   Pigeon River Country
Historical Interpretive Center

Featured Topics

This page is under construction

Native Americans:

Witness Tree:

Herman Lunden:

P. S. Lovejoy Parrish Storrs Lovejoy (1884-1942) had perhaps the greatest impact on making the Pigeon River Country what it is today.  His writings on forestry and land management shaped the ideas on what the PRCSF ought to be and how to manage it, and his 1932 Land Economic Survey kick-started the development of the forest that is still called the “Big Wild”.

Passenger Pigeon: This forest is named for a bird whose flocks once numbered in the millions and could block out the sun for a time when they took flight. Amazingly, they were hunted to extinction over the course of the 19th Century, and became a symbol of the perils of overhunting and resource overuse.

ElkThe elk that reside here today are not the original inhabitants. Eastern Elk disappeared from the state in the late 1800s, and the state was provided a western breed, which was released near the present-day forest in 1918. The herd has flourished and now numbers in the hundreds. Their habitat is managed by wildlife planning and numbers are controlled by a hunt. There are many great viewing areas in the PRCSF today

Forestry History & Early LoggingFrom the mid-19th Century through the first decade of the 20th, much of northern Michigan was logged with great efficiency. With the timber boom came towns, roads, farms, and railroads, most of which disappeared with the end of logging. Lands were left barren and susceptible to massive fires that ravaged the area in the years that followed.

CCCDuring the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established camps across the US, including one in the Pigeon. These WWI vets and young men planted thousands of acres of trees, constructed roads, and built fire breaks. One lasting legacy of the camp is a set of cabins around PRC Headquarters that still stand today.

Land Acquisitions: The Pigeon River Country started in 1919 from 6,428 acres that returned to the state through tax reversion. A land custodian was installed and lived in a residence on the Pigeon River – the first PRC Headquarters. Reforestation started soon after with 81 acres of pine planted in 1920. The state acquired further lands using hunting license revenue, oil & gas royalties, and other funding sources. Today, the PRCSF contains over 106,000 acres of the most contiguous lands managed by the Department in the Lower Peninsula.

Oil & Gas Development In the 1970s a major controversy surrounded the PRCSF. Oil was discovered in Michigan and companies were beginning to develop wells. Local citizens and forest users saw this activity as being in conflict with the “Big Wild” and pushed for protection of the Pigeon. This led to the designation of the PRCSF as a “special management area” by the Department, creation of a non-profit group

Concept of Management 1973 & 2007As the oil controversy was heating up, increased focus on the PRC led to the creation of a Concept of Management for the Pigeon River Country. This unique set of policies and guidelines, adopted by the DNR in 1973 and updated in 2007, outlined objectives for management
of the forests, waters, roads, recreational uses, oil & gas development, and other aspects of the PRCSF. It also designated the creation of an Advisory Council to provide support and advise the DNR on issues in the Pigeon River Country.


Lakes & Rivers

Link to the Pigeon River Country Association web page

Link to the Pigeon River Advisory Council web page







Otsego County
Historical Society

320 W. Main St.
Gaylord, Michigan

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1223
Gaylord, MI  49734

(989) 732-4568

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