By Paul Bruce, Indian Mission Conservation Club
It is overwhelmingly apparent to anyone who has ever driven highway US 23 north along the Lake Huron shore between Standish and Mackinaw City: there is very little undeveloped shoreline left. Residential development – cottages and year round homes – crowd the Sunrise Side coast. The once extensive wild places such as dune and swale wetlands have either disappeared or been severely fragmented.
Fortunately there are two significant remnants of the wild Lake Huron shore that have been spared from development, Thompson’s Harbor and Negwegon state parks. Thompson’s Harbor, situated between Alpena and Rogers City, encompasses a wide variety of significant and diverse natural communities. The park has over seven miles of untouched cobble and dune shoreline featuring marl beach pools, coastal marsh, northern fens, and cedar swamps. Thompson’s Harbor boasts the world’s largest population of the federally threatened dwarf lake iris as well as numerous other threatened or rare wildflowers.
Negwegon is located south of Thunder Bay near the small settlement of Black River. Remote and wild, the park has over six miles of Lake Huron shore that varies between rocky points and bays and long sandy beaches. Extensive globally rare Great Lakes dune and swale wetlands and a significant archeological site at South Point are prominent features.
Visitors to both parks can enjoy something that is increasingly rare – long undisturbed vistas of wild Lake Huron. Unfortunately, there is growing pressure from local special interests – politicians, business and tourism interests, and self-described motorized “sportsmen”, for intensive developments such as modern campgrounds, boatlaunches, and roads at Negwegon and Thompson’s Harbor. Such development would compromise these unique and fragile shorelines.
To counter these threats, the Indian Mission Conservation Club has launched the Protect Our Parks Initiative, a plan to obtain permanent protection for the magnificent wild shorelines of Negwegon and Thompson’s Harbor. Our goal will be to acquire Natural Areas designation through the Michigan Natural Heritage Program for the parks. Currently only a small segment of the Thompson’s Harbor shoreline has such designation.
The Indian Mission Conservation Club has been awarded a GLAHNF technical assistance grant to help implement this plan. We have retained Grobbel Environmental Planning Associates to prepare welldocumented nominations to present to the Natural Heritage Program.
So far, local support for the Indian Mission Conservation Club’s initiative is limited. While trying to build awareness at this level, a show of support is needed from throughout the state of Michigan and beyond. The Conservation Club is working on a statewide campaign to increase awareness of the need to protect Negwegon and Thompson’s Harbor.
Your help is needed to ensure that these unique remnants of our natural heritage will be enjoyed by future generations. Send a letter of support for the Natural Areas designations of Thompson’s Harbor and Negwegon state parks to me, Paul Bruce, President of the Indian Mission Conservation Club of Oscoda, Michigan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your letter will be included in the nominations submitted to the Michigan Natural Heritage Program.
For more information on the Protect Our Parks Initiative, contact Paul at (989) 739-3640.