Michigan On-the-Ground Seeks Volunteers for Fish, Wildlife Habitat
A new public-private partnership wants to improve fish and wildlife habitat with the help of the people most connected to the resource. Michigan On-the-Ground, a partnership between Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Fisheries Divisions, is recruiting hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to volunteer for on-the-ground habitat improvement projects.
“This is a great chance to get hands-on knowledge of the habitat needs of the fish and wildlife that enrich our outdoor experiences,” said Drew YoungeDyke, Grassroots Manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) and coordinator of the Michigan On-the-Ground (OTG) program. “Michigan OTG provides an opportunity to get involved, meet some like-minded folks and improve conditions for the very fish and wildlife you want to see when you’re out there hunting, fishing, hiking, riding and paddling.”
Michigan OTG collaborates with the DNR’s Wildlife and Fisheries Divisions to identify and coordinate habitat improvement projects that can be performed by volunteers, freeing DNR staff and technicians to work on other projects and increasing the total number of habitat improvement projects that can be accomplished throughout the state.
“Hunters and anglers fund the vast majority of conservation projects in Michigan through license sales and excise taxes on sporting equipment. By engaging volunteers on some of these projects, more habitat improvements can be accomplished with those hunter/angler dollars while increasing the stewardship ethic and wildlife knowledge base of Michigan citizens,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of MUCC.
The first Michigan OTG project will create small game habitat at the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area on Sunday, March 10. Volunteers will create brush piles out of box elder trees at the edges of fields and standing timber to provide shelter for cottontail rabbits, upland game birds like pheasant and nongame birds, as well.
“A lot of us began by hunting small game. Creating rabbitat (rabbit habitat) is a terrific opportunity for scout troops, conservation clubs, youth groups, bird watchers, small game hunters, and those with kids they’d like to introduce to small game hunting,” said YoungeDyke. “We might even sneak in some rabbit hunting when we’re done, if we finish early enough. Bring friends and a small game license!”
To receive updates on future projects or to volunteer for the Gratiot-Saginaw project, email Drew YoungeDyke at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “OTG.”