On the Ground: Long-Term Partnerships

MUCC’s On the Ground program has been going strong since its inception in 2013. Funded by an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, On the Ground has been able to complete a variety of habitat improvement projects statewide. The program celebrated 10 years in 2023 with a total of 215 completed projects, 4,683 volunteers, and 3,698 acres improved across Michigan. Throughout the years, On the Ground has developed some great long-standing partnerships with a variety of organizations. Take a look at some of the highlights of partnerships that MUCC and On the Ground have been involved with since the beginning.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Wildlife tech from DNR

A wildlife technician from the DNR helps a volunteer with a wood duck box.

The On the Ground program has partnered very closely with the Michigan DNR over the years. Most of the habitat improvement projects conducted by On the Ground have been in partnership with the DNR and have taken place on DNR-owned public lands across Michigan. Specifically, these projects have been completed in state game and wildlife areas, state parks, and state forests. Habitat improvements that have been accomplished include invasive species removal, brush pile building, tree plantings, trail maintenance, and more. To date, On the Ground has completed projects in 55 different DNR-owned public land areas since 2013. MUCC and On the Ground are looking forward to continuing the close partnership with the Michigan DNR for many more years to come.

Clinton River Watershed Council and Metro-West Steelheaders

Group photo 2023

Group photo from the river cleanup in 2023.

On the Ground has partnered with the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) and Metro-West Steelheaders (MWS) to host the Annual Clinton River Cleanup since 2014. A total of 8 different cleanup events have been organized by MUCC, the CRWC, and MWS with another upcoming event scheduled for April 13, 2024. Over 1,700 pounds of trash have been removed from the Clinton River since 2014. On the Ground hopes to continue this partnership well into the future to remove many more pounds of trash. This river is important because it provides habitat for many fish and wildlife species, as well as recreational opportunities for the public. For more information on the 2024 upcoming river cleanup, click HERE.

Steelhead Manifesto

Volunteers at the river cleanup

Volunteers pose for a photo at the rainy annual cleanup in 2019.

On the Ground has also partnered with the Steelhead Manifesto to host the annual Manistee River Cleanup since 2015. A total of 6 different cleanup events have been organized by MUCC and the Steelhead Manifesto with another one coming up this summer. Over 40 miles of the Manistee River have been cleaned up as a result of this annual event.  By cleaning up trash and debris from the river, volunteers directly improved fish and wildlife habitat by removing barriers to water access at the riverbank. Volunteers also created safer areas for more recreational opportunities. On the Ground is grateful for this long-standing partnership and we look forward to this event each year. Stay tuned for more information on the annual river cleanup in 2024!

Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance and Huron Pines

Group photo

Group photo from the jack pine planting event in 2023.

The partnership with MUCC, the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance, and Huron Pines has been going strong since 2014. Each year, we host a Jack pine planting event with these organizations to provide habitat for the Kirtland’s warbler, a rare species of songbird found in Michigan. Kirtland’s warblers were once endangered, having been on the Endangered Species List for 50 years. Intensive conservation efforts led them to be delisted in 2019. Kirtland’s warblers are habitat specialists, breeding only in young jack pine forests across parts of Michigan and Wisconsin. Over 7,400 jack pine seedlings have been planted since 2014, creating vital habitat for these birds. This is a popular event for On the Ground and we enjoy partnering with these organizations each year to continue to provide critical habitat for Kirtland’s warblers. More information on the 2024 Jack Pine Planting Day will be coming soon!

The On the Ground program wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of our dedicated volunteers, as well as great partnerships with organizations across the state. We are grateful for the continued support over the years and hope to complete many more habitat improvement projects in the future. For more information about On the Ground, visit mucc.org/on-the-ground.

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