A Great Place to Watch Wildlife!

In 1935 Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Today, Seney supports a variety of wildlife, including endangered and reintroduced species. Bald eagles, common loons and trumpeter swans are regularly seen during the summer months, especially June and July, when they are raising their young.

Peak populations of waterfowl are present in late summer and fall. Common species observed include Canada geese, hooded mergansers, mallards, black ducks, ring-necked ducks, and wood ducks. Sandhill cranes can be observed in moderate numbers prior to fall migration. Animals that live on the Refuge but are not always seen include black bear, white-tailed deer, coyote, river otter, beaver, ruffed, spruce, and sharp-tailed grouse, yellow rails, and woodcock.

Biting insects (black flies, deer flies, and mosquitoes) can be a problem during warmer months. Wood ticks may also be found in this area.

Visitor Center

The Visitor Center is open from 9am – 5pm, May 15 – October 15. At the Visitor Center you can: explore the Children’s Touch Table and interactive exhibits, watch the multi-projector orientation slide show and shop for books and souvenirs in the Seney Natural History Association’s bookstore.

During the season nature programs and special events are offered. Most programs meet at the Visitor Center. Click on the hyperlink above for a schedule of upcoming programs.

The Marshland Wildlife Drive
This self-guided auto tour is 7 miles long and is open during daylight hours from May 15th through October 15th. Observation decks offer wheelchair accessible scopes to view wildlife on the pools.

Hiking – The Pine Ridge Nature Trail
Pine ridge nature trail is open year-round during daylight hours. The 1.2 mile trail starts at Visitor Center and takes visitors through a wide variety of habitats. Take your time on the trail, often animals can’t be seen, but signs of their passing are present, such as tracks and homes. For the more adventuresome all backcountry roads are open to hiking. Trails are only open during daylight hours so you need to plan your trip carefully.

Bicycling is a wonderful way to see the Refuge because you can travel through large portions of the backcountry. All Refuge roads are open to bicycles, but the Refuge Manager may close some areas during peak migration. The Pine Ridge nature trail and the cross-country ski trails, however, are not open to bicycles. Refuge staff drive through the backcountry while conducting surveys so please be aware of the possibility of vehicles on the roads. To help you plan your visit, mileage is marked on the Refuge map.

Canoeing & Paddling
Canoeing is allowed on the Manistique and Driggs River. The Manistique River flows through the southern portion of the Refuge and offers paddlers an enjoyable trip. Due to numerous snags, shallow water, limited access by road, and no camping allowed, the Driggs is not recommended for canoeing. Boats or flotation devices of any kind are not allowed on the Refuge pools.Canoes and river kayaks are available at two outfitters in the nearby town of Germfask:

Northland Outfitters – 906/586-9801
Big Cedar Campground 906/586-6684

Fishing & Hunting
Fishing is permitted on the refuge in designated areas, with a Michigan fishing license. For more information see Fishing. Upland game hunting is available during state seasons in specified areas of the refuge. For more information see Hunting.

X-Country Skiing
The Northern Hardwoods Cross Country Ski Trail are groomed for traditional diagonal skiing. Trails are groomed as needed, usually just before the weekend if there has been sufficient snowfall. See X C Skiing for more information and a map.

Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere on the Refuge, except on groomed ski trails. Crossing the pools is not recommended as thin ice conditions may exist.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 for the protection and production of migratory birds and other wildlife. Today the refuge is comprised of a rich mosaic of marsh, swamp, bog, grasslands, and forest, with nearly two-thirds wetlands.

Over a century ago, lumbering operations forever altered the landscape of the Upper Peninsula’s great pine forests. The ring of the lumberman’s axe echoed through the forests as local mills depleted the region’s valuable supply of red and white pine. After the pine forests were cut, mill owners turned their axes and saws to the refuge’s northern hardwood and swamp conifer species.

Following the lumbering operations, fires were often set to clear away the debris. These fires burned deep into the rich organic soil, damaging its quality and killing the seeds that would have produced a new forest. On many areas of the refuge, the scars from these lumbering operations remain visible to this day.

After the fires burned out, a land development company dug many miles of drainage ditches throughout Seney. This drained acreage was then sold using extravagant promises of agricultural productivity. But the new owners quickly learned that these promises were unfounded. One by one, the farms were abandoned, and the exploited lands reverted to state ownership.

In 1934 the Michigan Conservation Department recommended to the Federal Government that the Seney area be developed for wildlife. This proposal was accepted and Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935.

Physical development and restoration of the refuge land began soon after establishment. With the aid of the Civilian Conservation Corps, an intricate system of dikes, water control structures, ditches, and roads was built. This system now impounds over 7,000 acres of open water in 26 major pools. These wetlands make Seney National Wildlife Refuge a great place to watch wildlife!

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