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With the passage of Public Act 218 signed by Governor Albert Sleeper on May 12, 1919, the Michigan State Park Commission was officially organized…making this year the unit’s 100th Anniversary!
Yet, there were two parks under state control prior to that act…according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website (www.michigan.gov/dnr). The first was Interlochen State Park, which was purchased by the state in 1917. It was the first public park to be transferred to the commission in 1920 and there is considered by some to be Michigan’s “first state park.”
Others consider Mackinac Island as Michigan’s first state park which park officials say is also true.
“Approximately 25 years before legislation established the state park commission, the federal government gifted the Mackinac Island property it owned to the state in 1895. The island was designated as Michigan’s first state park under the Mackinac State Park Commission. Because Mackinac Island is operated under the Mackinac State Park Commission and was not placed under the Michigan State Park Commission, there is more than one answer to the ‘first state park’ question.”
The State of Michigan began acquiring the land for Wilderness State Park in Mackinaw City back in 1896, through purchase and tax reversion proceedings. In the early twentieth century, the site operated as Emmet State Game Refuge, with the land set aside for the breeding of game birds and other animals. When the reserve was placed under the administration of the Parks Division in 1927, it officially became Wilderness State Park.
This year, Michigan State Parks collectively celebrates its Centennial Year…including Wilderness State Park. We thought we’d share a bit more history about this park, which you may or may not be aware of.
Did you know that Wilderness State Park…
For more about Wilderness State Park: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79133_79200_31427-54042–,00.html
For more about Emmet State Game Refuge: https://northernmichmashpreserve.weebly.com/parks-and-recreation.html
For more about the Michigan State Parks Centennial, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79133_79205_85747—,00.html.
For more about accommodations, dining and other activities in the Straits of Mackinac Area: https://www.mackinawcity.com/.
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