BIG BAY, Mich. (WJMN) – The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve is a non-profit organization founded in 1995. Its mission is to protect the Yellow Dog River and to keep it in its most natural state.

“Over the 20 some years we’ve bought and had donated to us over 2,000 acres. We try to target important places or places people like to go to. to keep it accessible for future generations,” said Vice Chairman Jan Zender.

One of the places the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve oversees is the Community Forest.

“So the Community Forest, we had the opportunity to buy this land. It encompasses three waterfalls. It was a really popular place for Big Bay people to come and people from all over really, all over, and a lot of people too which is surprising. So we bought it to protect the waterfalls, keep it open to people.”

According to the watershed preserved, the Yellow Dog River is one of the cleanest and least contaminated rivers in Michigan. This is mostly due to the non-profit’s monitoring system of the river.

“We have a pretty extensive water monitoring program. That’s like we study the macroinvertebrates, the little bitty bugs in the river, and the little bitty bugs indicate the health of the river and that’s what the trout are eating. Part of keeping the river in a natural state, it’s a good trout stream. Lots of people come here to fish and if the gravel beds get covered with sand then there are no spawning grounds for the trout or if something happens to the little bugs, you know, some catastrophic event one kind or another then there’s no food for the fish,” said Zender.

If you visit the Community Forest, there are ways to help the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve do its job.

“If you come here, leave it the way you found it. It’s wilderness area, respect it and respect other people you see and respect the wildlife and the fish and the animals. I’m not saying don’t keep the fish or if you go hunting be careful and use the whole animal. But I guess respect is the main thing, respect the wilderness and dream that wilderness can last for people into the future.”

To learn more about the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve or donate to its cause, you can visit yellowdogwatershed.org.