This week has provided two more opportunities to improve wildlife habitat on Michigan’s public lands. On Saturday, a group of Girl Scouts combined efforts with volunteers from the Ruffed Grouse Society and others to plant a variety of apple trees in the Gladwin Grouse Enhanced Management Site (GEMS). This project was coordinated with DNR Wildlife Biologist Bruce Barlow, Wildlife Assistant Glenn Lampella, Wildlife Technician Coree Brooks and Huron Pines AmeriCorps member serving with the Gladwin DNR, Stephanie Hoyle. Then, yesterday, members of the Reese High School Out-of-Doors Club improved wildlife habitat with us for the fourth consecutive year. This year’s project involved planting 600 shrubs along a roadside in the Elmwood Township Mini State Game Area and was coordinated with DNR Wildlife Biologist Tammy Giroux. Read further to see a full recap of the events and the volunteers that dedicated a day to conservation!
A group of over 20 volunteers got together to plant 60 apple and crabapple trees in six different openings within the Gladwin GEMS area on Saturday. Soil amendments, mulch, tree wraps and fencing structures were also placed with each tree to increase the chances of survival and proper growth to maturity. Once mature, these trees will provide soft mast (apples) for a variety of wildlife in the area including deer, black bear, grouse, turkey, small game and many non-game species. The trees will also provide browse for some of these species that are crucial to their survival in the late winter/early spring as the new leaves are budding. The Girl Scouts, ages 10-11, may have outworked all of us and didn’t seem to slow down at all until the last tree was planted!
As we got out of our vehicles and walked into the first planting site with shovels in hand, I heard the distinctive sound of a grouse flushing nearby; a hopeful sign for the Fall season. For many of the Girl Scouts, this was their first experience planting trees. They all watched eagerly as Barlow demonstrated the best way to break through the sod, dig the hole big enough for the root mass, and properly plant the trees complete with topsoil and mulch. Everybody got their hands dirty and the girls took turns using what appeared to be the favorite tool, the T-post driver, while placing fencing structures around each tree. Other volunteers included members with the North Central Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and staff from Midland-Dow High School.
Wednesday’s project was coordinated with Brian Terbush and the Reese High School Out-of-Doors Club (25 years strong). Previous projects with the group have included planting trees in an opening to provide thermal cover for wildlife and cleaning out and placing wood duck nesting boxes. This year, the group of 17 students planted 600 shrubs along the roadside in the Elmwood Twp Mini SGA to improve pheasant habitat. The 300 silky dogwood and 300 highbush cranberry shrubs were generously donated by Cold Stream Farms; tree nursery located in Free Soil, MI. These shrubs will provide a strip of browse and cover for pheasants along the edge of a clover and wheat field. The intent is to plant an additional 300 Hawthorn in the same location next year.
After the group planted all 600 shrubs, they didn’t waste any time getting to their next project which involved cleaning up parking areas in the nearby Vassar SGA. Each year, the group makes time to clean up areas in a nearby SGA as well as along busy roadways. Thank you for your dedication and involvement in conserving our public lands! Next up, OTG Jr is returning to the Bay City State Recreation Area again with Cramer Jr High students to target invasive species in the area near the Lagoon and Tobico Marsh!
UPCOMING OTG EVENTS:
May 15, 2018 Tobico Marsh/Bay City State Rec Area (OTG Jr)
On Tuesday, May 15th from 9am-3pm, students from the Cramer Jr High Service Club will be pulling garlic mustard and treating glossy buckthorn in the Tobico Marsh area. This group removed over 30 bags of garlic mustard and other invasives from the area last year! The students will enjoy an afternoon of fishing after the habitat work is complete.
On Saturday, May 19th from 9am-3pm, volunteers will be pruning apple trees in a state forest land orchard. These trees will produce soft mast (apples) for the areas wildlife including deer, bear, turkey, grouse and small game. See more details and RSVP to volunteer here.
On Saturday, May 20th from 9am-3pm we will be planting mast-producing trees in the Gwinn State Forest. Volunteers will meet by 9am at the Gwinn Department of Natural Resources office located on Highway M-35. The project site is located about 20 miles south of Gwinn off of County Rd 557, we will caravan from the field office. Fencing structures will also be placed around the newly planted trees. See more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
May 30 & 31, 2018 Rose Lake State Game Area (OTG Jr)
On Wednesday, May 30th and Thursday, May 31st, we will be building brush piles and pulling garlic mustard with 100 students from Murphy Elementary in the Haslett public schools. This project is coordinated with Zsa Mahon and her 5th-grade classes with our On the Ground Jr program!
MUCC’s On The Ground Program is supported by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division