Happy New Year to all of the hunters, trappers, and anglers out there! Now that deer season has come to a close, it’s time to up our habitat improvement game. MUCC’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program plans to do just that. There are several key events happening this month that volunteers will be participating in to improve wildlife habitat on public lands. MUCC will be starting off 2017 by hosting a Chainsaw Safety Training with Chuck Oslund for the third year in a row. This year, a second training day will follow the initial classroom portion of the course to allow participants to practice basic sawyer techniques in the field with experienced instructors. Next up, over 40 volunteers will be building brush piles for rabbitat in the Gourdneck State Game Area. Closer to the end of the month, volunteers will be continuing snowshoe hare habitat restoration in the Grayling State Forest.
After this weekend’s Chainsaw Safety Training, over 35 participants will have the knowledge and practice to be safer sawyers. This will be my third year attending the course by hosting it, but I’ve found I can never learn too much about chainsaw safety. It’s a great refresher each year as I begin the busy season of habitat work with a chainsaw as my most used tool for the job. Participants range from volunteers with MUCC’s Wildlife Habitat Program, to forestry professionals, to property owners that would like to learn the safest techniques to fell trees on their property for habitat improvement or harvesting wood for heating. This training is just in time for another snowshoe hare habitat restoration event in the Grayling State Forest.
On January 28th, volunteers will be meeting in the Grayling State Forest to hinge-cut trees for snowshoe hare habitat. This technique provides thick, horizontal cover that is essential to the survival of the hares through the winter months as they make great camouflage and hiding areas for the hares as they search for food. The area’s DNR Wildlife Biologist, Brian Piccolo, and DNR Wildlife Technician, Tim Riley, will choose a stand in a lowland conifer type forest that has light sign of snowshoe hare. After completing this project the past three years, the hares have started utilizing the hinge-cuts as cover within weeks of the project. If you would like to volunteer for this event, see more details and RSVP here!
Coming up next weekend, over 40 volunteers will be building brush piles for rabbitat in the Gourdneck State Game Area. This project was coordinated with the DNR Wildlife Biologist, Mark Mills, and me by Tyler Sands from Boy Scout Troop 253 out of Vicksburg, MI. This is Tyler’s Eagle Scout Project, and well-earned at that! Tyler set up a site scouting day a few weeks ago and has arranged a site prep day at which me, Tyler and his fellow scouts, along with volunteer Bill Dawson and two members of his Heavy Equipment Response Coalition (HERC) will be felling all the trees necessary to build large brush piles throughout the site. The project day is scheduled for January 14th and participants will include Boy Scout Troop 253, a local Girl Scout group, and volunteers with MUCC.
I can’t imagine a better way to start off 2017! Check out www/mucc.org/ontheground to see what the rest of 2017 has to offer for wildlife habitat improvement events. Thank you for volunteering and continuing to support MUCC’s Wildlife Habitat Program.
MUCC’s On The Ground Program is supported by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division