Land Protected on Victoria Lake and Added to Ottawa National Forest

October 1, 2015

Long-sought public access to Victoria Lake and the Ontonagon River has been secured in a 245-acre addition to the Ottawa National Forest, The Trust for Public Land and U.S. Forest Service announced today. The three-mile long lake protects water quality in the West Branch of the Ontonagon River.

The Trust for Public Land sold the property to the Forest Service for $320,000, and the Forest Service used money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government's main source of money for protecting land. LWCF is funded through royalties paid by energy companies for offshore gas and oil drilling.

"This beautiful and pristine area of Michigan is a recreational paradise for everyone to enjoy," said Shaun Hamilton, The Trust for Public Land's Northwoods director. "We have been working for years in the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests to keep the forests intact, protect the watersheds, and to protect recreational, fishing, and hunting lands for the public."

The Forest Service said protection of the land was a priority because it was an inholding, which means it was surrounded by federally owned property. The North County National Scenic Trail, America's longest national scenic trail, also runs through the property.

"Areas such as Victoria Lake play such an important role in our ecosystems, communities, and hearts," said Linda Jackson, Forest Supervisor, and Ottawa National Forest. "The opportunity for the Forest Service to work with our Michigan congressional delegation and partners such as The Trust for Public Land to preserve this area is an honor. Not only does this acquisition preserve 245 acres of land on Victoria Lake and the Ontonagon Wild and Scenic River, but it is also preserves wildlife habitat and the recreational value of the forest like securing a portion of the North County National Scenic Trail."

The Trust for Public Land recently protected 1,444 acres around Prickett Lake, which is also located in the Ottawa National Forest. Protecting the wild beauty and scenic quality of lakes in the Upper Peninsula is important to local residents.

"These lands have been enjoyed by hunters, fishermen, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts for generations and the acquisitions along Victoria Lake and other lakes and rivers in the national forest will ensure residents and visitors will have access to these public lands," said Norman Pestka, local businessman and resident of Ontonagon, Michigan.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), and U.S. Representative Dan Benishek (R-1) are supporters of both LWCF and

protecting inholdings in the national Forest. LWCF was created in 1964 and expires Sept. 30 unless Congress acts.

"Our lakes, waters, and forests are part of who we are and our way of life," said Sen. Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. "Adding hundreds of acres of land to the Ottawa National Forest will protect water quality in Victoria Lake while conserving wildlife habitats. I have supported the conservation of these resources for years and am pleased that Michigan families and tourists will be able to continue to enjoy hunting and fishing on these beautiful public lands for generations to come."

 

"Outdoor recreation is a critical sector of Michigan's economy, especially in the Upper Peninsula," said Sen. Peters. "This addition of Victoria Lake and the Ontonagon River to the Ottawa National Forest will increase public lands access for Michiganders while protecting local wildlife and water quality. Today's announcement underscores the urgent need to reauthorize and fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, so we can continue to support these kinds of investments that preserve our most treasured places."

"Michigan's federal forests are not only a beautiful treasure for our district, they are also a major driver of jobs and economic activity," said Rep. Benishek. "The outdoor economy brings millions of dollars to Northern Michigan every year. I am pleased that our kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy these lands, just as we have, for generations to come."