If you have ever traveled down state highways 28 or 77 to get to Marquette, you have driven along the borders of the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Located between the small town of Seney, Michigan, and the Hiawatha National Forest, the Refuge is just one of the many beautiful national parks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
In 1935, the Michigan Conservation Department recommended that the Federal Government redevelop the heavily logged area near Seney as a wildlife refuge. Today the 95,238 acres includes the 25,150 acres of the Seney Wilderness Area as well as Whitefish Point, Harbor Island, and other scattered National Wildlife Refuges that harbor migratory birds and other wildlife.
The Seney National Wildlife Refuge collection contains the Annual Narrative Reports from 1938-1982 highlighting the rebuilding of the area. These reports provide extensive and detailed descriptions of climate conditions, resource management, fire control, types of species and their condition, land use planning, pesticide studies, water management practices, and habitat management. The collection also includes brief histories of the towns of Germfask and Grand Marais which are located near the refuge.
Harvey C. Saunders papers are also included in the collection. Harvey Saunders spent 16 years working for the Refuge and as a supervisor for the Civilian Public Service (CPS). During World War II the federal government operated CPS camps for conscientious objectors. The Seney National Wildlife Refuge was also the site for federally funded programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Saunders began writing about his time as a supervisor and working for the Wildlife Refuge in detailed letters and journals. His memoirs, for example, offer researchers a unique window into the workings of the CPS camps and the life of their inhabitants.
The Seney Wildlife collection contains many photographs from the rebuilding of the wetlands and the preservation center. For more information about this collection see the finding aid.
Another collection at the Archives, the Elizabeth Losey Papers, also concerns the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Betty Losey was the first female field biologist for the National Wildlife Service. For more information, see the finding aid to her collection or our blog post about her.
To learn more about the Seney wildlife refuge, click here.
Written by: Morgan Paavola