Pigeon River Country State Forest

Huron Pines, Michigan DNR and other dedicated partners continue to work together to actively manage the unique landscape of the Pigeon River Country State Forest (PRC) to ensure the long-term protection and restoration of habitat for native plants and wildlife and recreation opportunities for visitors and residents.

With over 100,000 acres of adventure, the PRC is the largest contiguous block of publicly owned land in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The PRC is a unique area and managed differently than other state forests with little signage, remote areas and many opportunities to enjoy quiet recreation. In addition to significant hunting grounds and 3 pristine trout streams that area also boasts hundreds of miles of hiking, snowshoeing, equestrian and mountain biking trails. The PRC lives up to its nickname “Big Wild,” providing a remote, undeveloped backcountry experience that supports species like elk, black bear, bobcat, and pine marten (some of which require large blocks of land with open space and rich forests to thrive).

Upcoming Restoration Projects in the Pigeon River Country State Forest


Better Fish Passage on the Pigeon River in 2020

The Pigeon River currently flows under Ford Lake Road in the PRC through three metal tubes, or culverts. The existing culverts are too small for the volume of water rushing through, causing water to move at such a high velocity that it makes it difficult or impossible for fish to swim upstream for feeding and spawning. The current road/stream crossing design also puts the area at risk for flooding or a complete road washout during heavy rain.

Water beginning to flood the bank of the Pigeon River at the Ford Lake Road crossing in 2017.

In the summer of 2020 this crossing and roadway will be replaced with a new timber bridge to allow the river to flow freely again and:

  • Improve wildlife habitat by allowing fish and other species to move up and downstream
  • Enhance safety by eliminating the risk of a road washout due to flooding
  • Maintain easy recreation access for visitors
The original timber bridge at the Ford Lake Road crossing in 1940.

The road crossing and adjacent day use area will be temporarily closed during construction. The road crossing and adjacent day use area will be temporarily closed during construction. The adjacent campground will remain open but site #19 (closest to the crossing) will be converted to a small parking area.

This project is being completed collaboratively by Huron Pines, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Otsego County Road Commission.

For questions or concerns please refer to the following contacts.

Fisheries Information: DNR Tim Cwalinski, cwalinskit@michigan.gov, (989)-732-3541 x5072

Camping/recreation Information: DNR, Kelly Kinser,  kinserk@michigan.gov, (989)-732-5485

Restoration Project Information: Huron Pines,  Josh Leisen, josh@huronpines.org (989)-448-2293 x16