WILDERNESS STATE PARK, EMMET COUNTY
The majority of the many miles of shoreline consist of wide sandy beaches with scattered cobble, backed by one of the best developed and most diverse forested dune and swale complexes in Michigan, with some spectacular wetland areas mixed throughout. The scattered cobble beach areas provide some of the best habitat in Michigan for the federally endangered piping plover. In fact, almost the entire shoreline of the proposed natural areas is designated as critical habitat for the piping plover.
The Great Lakes population of piping plovers was historically several hundred breeding pairs in size, but had declined to 17 breeding pairs by the time the species was listed as endangered by the federal government in 1986. Since then, the population has fluctuated between 12 and 50 breeding pairs with breeding areas largely confined to Michigan, and a large portion of those have been consistently at Wilderness State Park. During the 2002 nesting season, 16 of 52 active nests were at Wilderness.