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Are People Living in the Gourdneck State Game Area in Portage?

Gourdneck State Game Area
Eric Meier/TSM

One of the hidden secrets of Portage, far from the mall and commercial district of Westnedge Avenue, is the Gourdneck State Game Area. The public land is open for hunting but are there people living off-the-grid there?

The discussion came up on the Kalamazoo forum of A user asked about the trail system and use of the land, but one comment piqued my curiosity:

So is it possible for someone to be living off-the-grid in the Gourdneck SGA? Not legally, no. DNR rules establish that users may not camp more than 15 nights in a row or use land as a semi-permanent or permanent residence.

If you are willing to be nomadic, you might just be able to live for a very long time on state land. Dispersed camping means setting up a camp outside of a standard campground. Dispersed campsites can be active from 15-21 days depending on the time of the year, and new campsites must be established 1 mile or more form the previous site.

Gourdneck State Game Area is spread out around 4 different sections in Portage and extending into part of Schoolcraft Township. The largest area is located south of Vanderbilt Ave and east of US 131.

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