The real estate listing is enough to make any nature lover swoon: “Secluded 2,103 acres of … woodland with cedar, pine and hardwood across Otsego and Cheboygan counties … Private Storey Lake has a pavilion and his/her rustic restrooms. Years of ownership and care of this property has landed it as a prime location to find wildlife of all kinds.”
Now, the property in the northeastern Lower Peninsula – once owned by an absentee owner from Switzerland – belongs to the people of Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources this week closed a deal to acquire the Storey Lake property after nearly two decades of negotiating to purchase the land.
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The property – which includes the entire 8-acre Storey Lake and about a mile of Stewart Creek – is in the core range of Michigan’s elk herd, nestled between two other parcels of state forest land: the 106,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest and another large tract of state-managed forest land in the DNR’s Gaylord Forest Management Unit.
“There’s the potential for designating an elk viewing area on the Storey Lake property,” said 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, the red-shouldered hawk and the Massasauga rattlesnake, recently listed as threatened due to loss of habitat. Stewart Creek is a designated brook trout stream which feeds into the Sturgeon River. At 30 to 35 feet deep, Storey Lake provides good conditions for trout.
The DNR completed the $3.8 million property purchase with a $912,500 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, as well as money from the state’s Land Exchange Facilitation and 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,” said Deb Begalle, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.
The Storey Lake property currently 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 outdoor pursuits. 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 to ensure the DNR is aware of public opinion related to access and recreational opportunities on the Storey Lake property.