Last weekend, a group of 17 volunteers completed work in a wildlife opening in the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area. Groups have been improving wildlife habitat in this site for the past 3 years prior to this event. The objective was to remove any standing timber from the opening and build large brush piles for rabbit habitat along the perimeter of the opening. The last of the volunteer work involved cutting a small area of thick brush that remained in the north end of the opening. About brush piles were constructed with the remaining brush in addition to the 7 large brush piles along the perimeter. The area’s DNR Wildlife Technician, Chad Krumnauer, hopes to complete the work with a prescribed burn so that the opening can be tilled and planted for wildlife in the near future.
Returning volunteers included Wayne Hanson, a club officer with the Saginaw Field & Stream Conservation Club, Doug Reeves who is continually improving wildlife habitat in the Gratiot-Saginaw area, Denny Sanborn who has attended multiple other OTG events in the Grayling State Forest area, Alicia Keene who volunteered for the Manistee River Clean-Up, Jody Hoeppner along with his son Ethan, Grandfather Dale Hoeppner, and several recruits from their Boy Scout Troop joined this event after hearing what a great time they had at last weekend’s event in the Tuttle Marsh area. Several volunteers participated as well, making this their first OTG event.
Christopher Martello and Kelly Haughn with the Michigan Hawking Club provided a special opportunity by bringing their juvenile Red-tailed Hawk- Vesper and Small Munsterlander- Kita to the event. A few of us joined them after lunch to revisit some areas where volunteers have previously built brush piles to see how Vesper and Kita work with the group to hunt small game. Christopher and Kelly instructed us to kick the brush as we normally would with small game hunting, and Vesper would be following us close by watching for rabbits or squirrels to scurry out of the brush. It was a great experience to see how Vesper and Kita worked together and how they also collaborated with us during the hunt. I will be highlighting this in next week’s blog!
On the Ground wildlife habitat improvement events provide unique opportunities for people from various backgrounds and with different outdoor interests to work together towards one common goal of conserving Michigan wildlife and natural resources. These events benefit more than just the wildlife, though. They improve areas for hunting or trapping on public lands, wildlife viewing for hikers, birders, or other outdoor recreation activities and much more. If you’d like to get involved, you can see the updated list of OTG events here and RSVP to volunteer for wildlife!
Coming up next:
On Saturday, March 17th from 9am-2pm, volunteers will be meeting at the Dansville State Game Area Shooting Range to complete and wildlife habitat improvement project in the area. Volunteers will be improving hunter access trails and building brush piles for rabbitat- see more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
On Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th, 2018, MUCC’s On the Ground program and the Heavy Equipment Response Coalition are offering a Chainsaw Safety Training course for all experience levels from no sawyer experience to advanced. The course will be hosted at the Hal & Jean Glassen building at the Rose Lake Shooting Range and will begin at 9 AM on both Saturday and Sunday. Sessions are expected to go until 4 PM on both days. Register here *(required)
On Saturday, April 7th from 9am-2pm, volunteers will continue wildlife habitat improvements in the area by building brush piles for rabbitat. This project has been completed in the region each year since the start of the program in 2013!
On Saturday, April 21st from 10am-2pm, volunteers will be planting 300 tree seedlings in 3-gallon pots at the Crane Pond SGA DNR Field Office. These trees will be monitored and cared for until they are large enough to plant in wildlife openings in the area to provide browse and thermal cover for the area’s wildlife-see more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
MUCC’s On The Ground Program is supported by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division