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Michigan Islands Wilderness

General Location Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
A Herring Gull chick sits in a nest of green foliage and little yellow flowers. This chick is grey and spotted with black dots.
Library image #2520: Herring Gull chick


The United States Congress designated the Michigan Islands Wilderness (map) in 1970 and it now has a total of 12 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Michigan and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.


Eight small islands in Lakes Huron and Michigan were established as Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge in 1943, and three of these islands have been designated Wilderness: Pismire, Scarecrow, and Shoe. At seven acres, Scarecrow Island is the largest of the three Wilderness isles, which together form one of the smallest units of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Large submerged limestone shoals located offshore protect a shoreline of rock and cobble. Several colonial bird species - great blue heron, black-crowned night-heron, herring gull, ring-billed gull, great black-backed gull, common tern, Caspian tern, and double-crested cormorant - nest on these islands in substantial numbers. Standing dead green ash trees are the main vegetation, with a lush understory of common elderberry, scattered red-osier dogwood, and an abundance of "weedy" plants. The death of the ash has been blamed on the extensive use by cormorants. In order to protect nesting birds, public visitation is prohibited.

Planning to Visit the Michigan Islands Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

In order to minimize disturbance to colonial nesting birds, public visitation is prohibited on all islands within the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This includes designated Wilderness on Shoe, Pismire and Scarecrow Islands.

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