by Dennis Walikainen '92 '09
"Just look at this," says Dana Richter ’89, a research scientist in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and president of Copper Country Audubon, as we drive along on Pilgrim Road, just minutes from campus. "The river runs along the fault from the Traprock Valley to Mass City, and it’s a beauty," he says.
As we walk down through the wet grass, we have a clear view of the green-and-gold hillsides flanking the water on this early autumn day. The river works its magic, riffling over rocks, pausing in pools. It’s not that hard to get here; there are hiking trails nearby, and a short venture has us down to a spot where a fallen tree crosses the river with promises of deep trout ponds there and around a bend.
For decades, Michigan Tech students and alumni have been able to bring rod and reel or just their own adventuresome selves down to this wild place only a couple miles southeast of campus. They have been welcome thanks to the good graces of the owners—nearly all of the land on either side of the Pilgrim River is in private hands. Now, however, the river valley is attracting the eye of developers. For those who cherish a ramble here, the time for preservation is now. Houses and new roads are springing up, and there’s nothing to abate future growth.