Pigeon River Country
Historical Interpretive Center
This page is under
P. S. Lovejoy:
Parrish Storrs Lovejoy (1884-1942) had perhaps the greatest impact on
Pigeon River Country what it is
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”.
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.
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 Logging:
From the mid-19th Century through the first decade of the 20th, much of
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.
During 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.
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
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
Management 1973 & 2007:
As 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
Lakes & Rivers
Link to the
Country Association web page
Link to the
Pigeon River Advisory Council