Deliver Benefits to the Public

Partnership enhances recreation opportunities, improves access on Ottawa National Forest

MICHIGANOttawa National Forest, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy of Michigan, completed installation of 400 feet of boardwalk along the popular White Deer Lake Trail in the McCormick Wilderness. Installation of the step and run boardwalk fulfilled several resource needs and will help protect wilderness character.

Beaver activity within the wilderness caused severe flooding of the trail over the last decade. Flooding, along with the topography in the area caused users to make several social trails to avoid flood-damaged areas and navigate the steep terrain. Increased presence of social trails threatens regional forester sensitive species and creates increased trammeling of the wilderness.

Ottawa National Forest staff using hand tools to replace the White Dear Lake trail boardwalk with new cedar planks and supports in the McCormick Wilderness.
Ottawa National Forest staff using hand tools to replace the White Dear Lake trail boardwalk with new cedar planks and supports in the McCormick Wilderness. USDA Forest Service photo.
A view from above of the completed White Dear Lake trail boardwalk within the McCormick Wilderness on the Ottawa National Forest.
A view from above of the completed White Dear Lake trail boardwalk within the McCormick Wilderness on the Ottawa National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Through collaboration, the Ottawa and TNC chose a trail design that would meet wilderness objectives, protects resources while enhances user experience. TNC coordinated the use of locally sourced cedar that was milled nearby and prepared for the site. Shoshone National Forest and their pack string were called upon to assist with transport of materials into the wilderness. Use of stock animals is not common in the Upper Midwest; however, it was deemed necessary for this project. A team of four Shoshone National Forest staff, 10 mules and four horses, transported all materials to the project site so that TNC staff could construct the boardwalk Within four days in Fall of 2018, nearly all of the boardwalk was constructed. TNC created a short video documenting the project.

Some minor construction in Spring of 2019 brought this project to completion.

The new boardwalk will be a perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the Upper Peninsula’s spectacular fall colors looking to begin popping in mid-to-late September.

This is the first project completed as part of a dynamic stewardship agreement with TNC, which allows both agencies to collaborate on a variety of restoration projects across the Forest.