Around Huron Lake in 8 days: Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Even though we wanted to be at the Refuge entrance before sunrise, we were not able to be there. We were wondering if the late barbeque we had the night before or the stars I couldn’t stop gazing at in the middle of the night had something to do with this. Anyway, with a fresh enthusiasm we got to the Refuge gate around 10 am, an hour drive from Munising, where our host was living. The late August sun was up in the sky, and I knew the wildlife was well hidden at that late hour of the morning. The refuge is vast, and has several trails for hikers, or bikers, and needs a lot of time to have it explored. Since we were late already, we decided to have only the drive-through ride, with few stops along the way.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge, is located in the East-Central portion of Michigan UP, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife, the refuge is a land of marshes, bogs, swamps and forests. The 95,238 acres refuge encompass the 25,150 acre Seney Wilderness Area, which contains the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark. Nearly two-third of the refuge is basically a wetland, and a little paradise for fowls.
After the forests have been heavily exploited more than 100 years ago, and the early 20th century entrepreneurs gave up the attempt to have it as farmland, much of these lands have been abandoned for unpaid property taxes.
During the 30’s depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt and expanded the abandoned wetland drains, developing Seney area for wildlife.
Restoration included an intricate system of dikes, water control structures, canals and roads, and the system currently has 26 major pools on over 7,000 acres of open water, great home for all kind of birds and wildlife.
Birders can check this list with birds found at the refuge:
Wildlife lovers can check this list if interested for some particular species:
The seven mile drive-through one way, open May 15 to October from dawn to dusk takes visitors through wetlands and forests. Three observation decks and numerous pools make this drive a great wildlife watching opportunity.
The Fishing Loop is an optional 3.5 mile we have added to our 7 mile Marshland Wildlife Drive. Although the Fishing Loop bypasses about 1 mile of the Marshland Wildlife Drive, it actually offers a more diverse view of the landscape.
The Visitor centre is open 9 to 5, May to October, while the refuge is open daily from dawn until dusk, at no charge. I think the best time to visit the refuge remains at dawn, and probably we will return one day better prepared to do the trails in the park.