On the Ground: Earth Day (Weekend) Accomplishments

This past weekend, volunteers with On the Ground planted a total of 745 trees for wildlife in two different regions of Michigan public land! On Saturday, over 400 trees were planted by a group of 12 volunteers in the Crane Pond State Game Area for the fourth annual OTG tree planting event. Then, on Sunday (Earth Day!), a total of 345 crabapple trees were planted in the Huron-Manistee National Forest near Baldwin, MI. These trees will provide both cover and browse for various wildlife species in these areas including, turkey, whitetail deer, black bear, grouse, rabbit and more. What a great weekend for wildlife habitat improvement and to proactively celebrate Earth Day on our unique, public lands!

The tree varieties planted in the Crane Pond State Game Area included 100 white spruce, 100 flowering dogwood, and 100 burr oak donated by NWF’s Trees For Wildlife program as well as close to 100 additional oaks that were being stored at the DNR Field Office. This project collaborated with the areas DNR Wildlife Biologist, Ken Kesson, and seasonal DNR Wildlife Assistant, Carlye Morris. The trees were planted by volunteers into 1-gallon fabric buckets and are being stored and cared for at the field office until they are large enough to be planted in selected wildlife openings within the area. This technique will allow for a better survival rate for the trees.

Trees planted in the Huron Manistee-National Forest were 345 crabapples provided by the National Wild Turkey Federation. This project collaborated with District Biologist Ryan Boyer with NWTF, Baldwin/White Cloud District Wildlife Biologist Heather Keough with the US Forest Service, other partners including the Ruffed grouse Society and volunteers with MUCC’s On the Ground program. The unique site these trees were planted in was located in the northern part of Newaygo County. The trees were planted in clusters of 5 trees spaced out 50 feet apart within three oak-pine savannas. Wildlife Biologist Heather Keough stated “these savannas make up less than 0.02% of the nation’s landscape” during the overview of the project. These rare habitats are difficult to establish and have taken years of work and care to regenerate in this area.

Oak-pine savannas are important to several different species of wildlife and vegetation including many wildflower species, like lupine, that provides nectar for species including the endangered Karner Blue butterfly! Among providing browse for wildlife, the trees planted will also help to deter vehicles from “off-roading” and restore some canopy area where areas of oak were removed. Planting locations were very specific for this project as there were other habitat improvements to consider, such as planting of other nectar species and of course regeneration of existing wildflowers. It was great for the OTG program to collaborate with other conservation organizations as well as with the USFS Staff to improve habitat in such a unique area.

I’d say it was a successful Earth Day (weekend) for volunteers with MUCC’s On the Ground program. There are more opportunities coming up to improve wildlife habitat on public lands near you- check them out and RSVP to volunteer here!




April 28, 2018 Gladwin GEMS Area

On Saturday, April 28th, at 8:30 AM, volunteers will be meeting at the Gladwin DNR Field Office to complete a tree planting event in the Gladwin GEMS Area. We will be planting 40 apple trees and 20 crabapple trees in groups of 5 at sites adjacent to wildlife openings in the Lame Duck Foot Access Area, Gladwin County, Michigan. This is a joint project between the DNR Wildlife Division and the North Central Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society. Please RSVP to Bruce Barlow at BarlowB@michigan.gov


May 2, 2018 Elmwood Twp Mini-State Game Area (OTG Jr)

On Wednesday, May 2nd from 9am-2pm the Reese Out of Doors Club will be completing a wildlife habitat program for the fifth year in a row with OTG Jr. The group will be planting shrubs along a roadway in the Elmowwod Twp Mini SGA. The 600 dogwood and highbush cranberry trees were generously donated by Cold Stream Farms to make this project possible!


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.


May 19, 2018 Grayling State Forest

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.


May 20, 2018 Gwinn State Forest

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

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