Biggest Land Protection Deal in Michigan

  • The mouth of the Two Hearted River in the Upper Peninsula. Because of the new land protection deal, much of the Two Hearted watershed is now protected. (Photo by Heidi Raatz)

The Nature Conservancy calls it “The Big U.P. deal.” And they’re not kidding. It’s 271,000 acres of land in the Upper Peninsula. It protects 660 lakes and 52,000 acres of wetlands. The deal limits development on the land.

“It’s permanent public access for fishing and berry picking and hiking, and you could forever. That’s the wonderful thing about it,” says the state director of the Nature Conservancy in Michigan, Helen Taylor.
More about the Big UP Deal A related story about Hemingway’s Michigan More about Keith Taylor


She says private timber companies will still be allowed to cut down trees.

“These are working lands and there’s a long history there and it’s an important part of our economic base in the U.P. So to protect them it’s not necessary to set it aside. It’s how we manage those lands.”

This deal requires the timber companies to harvest the trees in a sustainable way.

The Nature Conservancy says one of the main reasons they could pull this whole thing off is because a lot of people have an emotional connection to the Two Hearted River. A big reason why is Ernest Hemingway. Most of his Nick Adams stories take place in Northern Michigan.

Keith Taylor is a poet and a professor of creative writing at the University of Michigan. He says he was inspired by Hemingway, and he felt a connection to northern Michigan before he even moved here.

“When I came to Michigan I knew northern Michigan because it’s so well recreated in those early stories of Hemingway. Perhaps the best stories he ever wrote were those early Nick Adams, the best of which take place in northern Michigan.”

Taylor says he loves to canoe the Two Hearted, and he’s constantly inspired by Michigan’s great outdoors – both the cities and the forests.

(Interview still being transcribed, please check back)