On the Ground celebrates 200th habitat improvement project in the Manistee National Forest

Volunteers planted more than 1,200 native wildflower plugs during the planting event.

On the Ground, MUCC’s volunteer stewardship and habitat improvement program, celebrated its 200th habitat improvement project in Manistee County this past weekend.

In a partnership project with the US Forest Service, Cadillac-Manistee Ranger District and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, volunteers planted more than one thousand native wildflower plugs in a restored oak-pine barrens site near 6 Mile Bridge in the Manistee National Forest.

Power drills with auger bits were used to drill holes for the wildflower plugs.

“The oak-pine barrens is a semi-open fire-dependent savanna community, with a vegetative structure midway between a forest and a prairie,” said USFS District Wildlife Biologist, Scott Warsen.

Each planting location was flagged and volunteers installed 5-7 plugs at each station.

“This natural community is one of the most imperiled in the state, and it provides habitat for a variety of rare species, including dusted skipper, grizzled skipper, monarch butterfly, numerous bumblebees, eastern box turtle, red-headed woodpecker and eastern massasauga rattlesnake. It’s also home to game species such as wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and even the occasional black bear.”

Volunteers treated all planted plugs with deer and rabbit repellent.

On Saturday, participants planted butterflyweed, common milkweed, sand coreopsis, wild lupine, horsemint, wild bergamot, blazing star, and other species. Each plant was watered and treated with deer and rabbit repellent to aid in long-term survivability.

For this milestone project, we were also joined by a film crew from Outdoor Channel’s Wardens TV show! Volunteers and project partners will be featured on an episode of the show that will air in 2024.

Thank you, volunteers and project partners, for helping On the Ground reach its 200th project in the tenth year of the program! We are looking forward to the next decade of improving and enhancing Michigan’s public lands and wildlife.

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