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Mudjekewis Wildlife Refuge ecologically, historically significant

The Upper Peninsula most likely will never be dotted with major metropolitan areas, given its remoteness and terrain.

Still, a close watch has to be paid on development, making sure the environment is considered.

Since development is inevitable, it’s gratifying to hear when a large tract of land is preserved for future generations.

That’s the case with the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve recently becoming the owner and caretaker of the 1,000-acre Mudjekewis Wildlife Refuge in the Yellow Dog Plains in Michigamme Township.

The property is the gift and legacy of June Rydholm and her husband, the late Fred Rydholm, as well as their family.

Over time, the family became stewards of 1,000 acres.

The YDWP also noted the preserve features a camp on the Bentley Trail, which leads from the Huron Mountain Club to the McCormick Wilderness Area.

The Yellow Dog Plains is a spectacular natural area. The new refuge includes jack pine barrens, northern meadows, vernal pools, spring-fed ponds, Bentley Lake and headwater wetlands. Freshwater forested shrub/wetlands feed the Yellow Dog River and the conifer swamps interspersed with isolated upland islands.

Of course, many wildlife species call the area home. The YDWP noted recent plant surveys yielded over 80 species throughout the varied natural communities, and surveys resulted in the identification of at least 52 distinct species.

What makes the Mudjekewis Wildlife Refuge particularly special among other conservation areas is its size, which allows for unique stewardship opportunities. Some wildlife species, for example, require large tracts of land to thrive.

YDWP will manage the property according to best ecological practices as well as the intent of the people who built its legacy.

It’s not just the refuge’s wonderful ecology, though, that makes it such a valuable place to preserve.

It’s a way to honor the Rydholm legacy.

The late Fred Rydholm was a science teacher for Marquette Area Public Schools who also served as mayor for the city of Marquette and a member of the Marquette City Commission.

Conservation and preservation were guiding principles of his as well as his wife June.

So, if you happen to visit the refuge at some point and see a white-tailed deer walking in the distance or hear a boreal chickadee sing, think of the Rydholms and how their concern for the environment has created a permanent wildlife haven in such a wonderful place.