Collection Spotlight: Seney National Wildlife Refuge Records

Enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, canoeing, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, biking, berry or mushroom picking, or just enjoying the great outdoors? Than this week’s post is for you! About 80 miles east of campus lies the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, 95,455 acres of forest, field, and marsh full of outdoor opportunities. Created in 1935 by the federal government, the land that became the refuge was heartily logged for pines, hardwoods, and swamp conifer species. After logging, fires were lit to clear away debris and open up the land to prospective surveyors. Capitalizing on the work already done, a land development company dug some 7,000 drainage ditches and proceeded to sell the newly drained land parcels claiming prodigious agricultural productivity. The parcels were bought and soon abandoned by the farmers, and the land went back to the state.

Manuscript collection MSS-108 is just one of many collections highlighting nature in the Upper Peninsula. The Seney National Wildlife Refuge collection consists of annual narrative reports, Harvey C. Saunders’ memoirs, and photographs which span from 1938 to 1982. Saunders (1878-1967) was primarily a logger, and worked along the Manistique and Indian Rivers in Michigan. He wrote multiple manuscripts about the process of logging, logging camps, and log drives (Box 2, Location: 11-04-08). The annual narrative reports describe, among other things, weather and climate conditions, resource management, fire control, species inventories and conditions, land use planning, pesticide studies, water management practices, and habitat management. Also included are field notes, photographs, and personal accounts of early Seney conditions at the turn of the century by Saunders, including histories of Germfask and Grand Marais.

To see more photographs like the ones below (all from Box 3, Location: 35-03-06), stop by the NMU Archives in LRC 126 and check out the collection for yourself!


Workers inspect a sign scheduled for replacement, noting it may have historical value.


A staff member instructs a member of a local Boy Scout troop on the proper technique to plant spruce. Pictured is one of more than 5,000 seedlings planted in the ‘70’s on the refuge.


Geese cross the road at their designated site through the park.


An example of a group about to go fishing at one of the lakes within the park.


Park guests look at a bear caught in a bear trap that had been causing trouble for refuge guests.


A bulldozer clears a bumpy area into a smoother one, with the new frame for the welcome sign in the background on the left and the old one on the right.

Blog post written by Stefan Nelson


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