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The Big U.P. Deal

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The areas marked in red and orange are part of The Big UP Deal.

I was 17 years old when I first read Hemingway’s short story The Big Two-Hearted River.

Some two decades later, the story of the fictional Nick Adams and his fishing expedition near Seney, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, holds true to me when I go riverbank fishing in the U.P. with my kids. The first glimpse of a breathtaking Michigan river reminds me of the lesson Hemingway gave us: that nature can help replenish and heal the human spirit.

So, with that in mind, I’m pleased to share with you some incredibly good news I’ve just discovered about protecting the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, where more than a few of Hemingway’s short stories were based.

The Nature Conservancy and the State of Michigan said this week that new conservation easements and acquisitions would protect 271,000 acres of wilderness and natural area, including the Fox and Big Two-Hearted Rivers.

The Conservancy calls the agreement “The Big UP Deal.” It also protects:

  • 423 square miles of forest, lakes and rivers.
  • 660 lakes and streams.
  • 80 percent of the Two-Hearted River Watershed.
  • 52,000 acres of wetlands.
  • 60 miles of buffer to some of the state’s most important and prestigious natural areas, from Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, in the west, to Tahquamenon Falls, in the east.

“By coming together with public and private organizations, philanthropic foundations and private individuals, we demonstrated that we can work together to make positive solutions with lasting, long-term benefits for everyone,” said Rebecca Humphries, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment. “This project ensures that this land remains forever open to public recreation, boosting tourism efforts, and retains jobs in forest-related businesses. This certainly is a big deal for the people and state of Michigan.”

MLUI commends the state, the Conservancy, the philanthropic foundations, and all the others who made this deal possible to protect the U.P.’s enchanting natural beauty. They rightly recognized, like Hemingway, these places are truly special.



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