The Michigan Department of Natural Resources closed a deal this week to acquire the Storey Lake property for $3.8 million after nearly 20 years of negotiations. The 2,103-acre area is in the northeastern Lower Peninsula, northeast of Gaylord.
The woodland area is between the 106,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest and another tract of state-managed forest land in the DNR’s Gaylord Forest Management Unit. It has cedar, pine, and hardwood trees across Otsego and Cheboygan counties, as well as a pavilion, eight-acre Storey Lake, a mile of Stewart Creek, and rustic restrooms.
The property was once owned by an absentee owner from Switzerland. It is in the core range of Michigan’s elk herd.
“There’s the potential for designating an elk viewing area on the Storey Lake property, says Kerry Wieber, forest land administrator for the DNR. “This property also offers abundant opportunities to view other wildlife and birds.”
Rare species that live there include the northern goshawk, bald eagle, red-shouldered hawk, and Massasauga rattlesnake, which was recently listed as threatened due to loss of habitat. Stewart Creek is a designated brook trout stream that feeds the Sturgeon River. At 30-35 feet deep, Storey Lake provides good conditions for trout.
To help with the purchase, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund contributed a grant of $912,500. Funds also came from the state’s Land Exchange Facilitation Management Fund generated by the sale of surplus state forest land in Iosco County to United States Gypsum.
“This is going to offer the public many different recreational opportunities and is a valuable addition to the state forest system,” says Deb Begalle, chief of the department’s Forest Resources Division.
The property is accessible from Fontinalis and Alexander roads. The North Central State Trail runs along its west-northwest boundary.
The land is open for all legal hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, bird watching, berry picking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other outdoor activities. All nonmotorized use is welcome. Motorized use is limited until the DNR completes an inventory of the existing roads on the property and develops an access plan.
There will be an opportunity for public involvement in developing the access plan. Drone footage of the property is available here.