The 18-acre sanctuary was acquired in 2002 and was named after the late Dr. Robert Thorson Brown who was a Professor Emeritus of Michigan Technological University in the Department of Biological Sciences until his retirement in 1983. Dr. Brown’s main interests were in the field of plant ecology, and he was an expert in the identification of plants, lichens, and fungi. Prior to Dr. Brown’s death, he aided in the selection of this site for future preservation.
Dr. Brown spear headed this tract as an educational tool in wetland ecology, and the use of this property for educational purposes continues today. Students from the Michigan Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences and the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences have been visiting this tract for educational field trips for the past 30 years.
Recently high school students and instructors from Jeffers High School in Painsdale have “adopted” this wetland and constructed a boardwalk and overlook platform within the fen. With the aid of funding and assistance from community groups, Jeffers students and Superior AmeriCorps members and instructors participated in the construction of the boardwalk and a viewing platform. By 2011, a second boardwalk and viewing platform was completed allowing for additional access through the forest to the edge of the fen.
The Brown Sanctuary provides a unique environment within the hardwood dominated landscape. In addition to plant diversity, the Brown Sanctuary benefits local wildlife populations. Wildlife species likely utilizing the sanctuary include but are not limited to black bear, white-tailed deer, American marten, pileated woodpecker, alder flycatcher, and numerous song birds.
For additional information, contact the MNA office at (866) 223-2231.