About the Friends
The Friends of the Porkies is a 501 (c) (3) organization that represents the interests of all users of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The Park, located in Ontonagon County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, contains a breathtaking 60,000 acres of natural beauty. From the village of Ontonagon, a drive of about 20 minutes along the shoreline of Lake Superior will bring you to the “Porkies.”
The Friends of the Porkies has been around for many years. Groups of citizens interested in the land that was to become the Park started meeting in the early 1940s. The Porcupine Mountain Ski Club was probably the first of these organizations. Over the years, various groups of people calling themselves friends organized around different park issues.
The present organization known as Friends of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park began forming in the early 1980s. It was the brainchild of the late Dan Urbanski, a local award winning photographer, and his Park Ranger friends. Dan began publishing a newsletter for the Friends that he named the Quill.
In April of 1987, the Friends of the Porkies met to develop “a plan for the park that the public would like to see implemented.” Committees were organized around the following activities: Skiing, Historical, Harbor and Waters, Snowmobiles, Hunting and Fishing, Nature and Environment, and Liaison.
In January of 1998, the group decided to elect a board of directors and officers and to establish federal nonprofit status. Members decided that the Friends’ mission should be to represent the interests of all users of the Porkies and provide a platform for ideas to improve the Park (see the mission statement on our website, www.porkies.org).
Since 1998, the Friends organization has developed and sustained a number of programs and been involved in many activities. Ongoing activities and programs include:
- 2000–present: Providing volunteers for highway and trail clean up projects and removing invasive species in the Park.
- 2002–present: Donating funds to publish “The Visitor,” a newspaper about the Park and its recent and upcoming activities.
- 2005: Developing a ten-year plan to save and use a number of Park buildings
- 2005–present: Organizing and presenting the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival (see www.porkiesfestival.org).
- 2006–present: Establishing a Folk School and hosting a variety of classes (see http://porkies.org/folk-school/). The first Folk School class, timber framing, led to the building of Dan’s Cabin, named for our late co-founder and president Dan Urbanski, to be used for the Artist in Residence Program.
- 2007–present: Offering a mini-grant program to fund educational field trips for area school children (see http://porkies.org/mini-grant-information/).
- 2007–present: Completing Dan’s Cabin; inaugurating and sustaining the Artist in Residence Program (see http://porkies.org/artist-in-residence/).
- 2008–present: Establishing and sustaining the Kurt Blake Helmet Fund (see http://porkies.org/skiing-at-the-porkies/).
- 2008: Contributing much needed funding for lumber to complete the boardwalk to the viewing area at Lake of the Clouds.
- Providing volunteer help for a variety of park related community events.
The Friends of the Porkies organization has continued to grow and take on projects that support and promote the Park and its users. You can follow our progress at our website, www.porkies.org, where you can also press “request newsletter” to download a copy of the Quill.