On the Ground (OTG) is MUCC’s volunteer fish and wildlife habitat improvement program. Launched in 2013 with six pilot projects, it won Outdoor Life magazine’s inaugural Open Country award for its partnership with the Department of Natural Resources.
Over 2,005 volunteers have improved fish and game habitat through more than 100 OTG projects involving building brush piles and removing invasive trees, installing fish spawning structures, hinge-cutting trees for deer and snowshoe hare, installing wood duck boxes, regenerating aspen stands, and planting a variety of trees for wildlife food and cover.
OTG focuses on projects which improve habitat for game species and sport fish on lands open to the public for hunting and fishing. Through this program, hunters, anglers and trappers have the opportunity to donate their time for the benefit of the species they pursue, showing the general public that we’re true conservationists, while seeing first-hand how their license dollars are put to use. At the same time, non-hunters and new hunters learn about wildlife habitat and the contributions made by hunters, anglers and trappers for conservation.
On the Ground is supported by a Wildlife Habitat Grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources along with Michigan’s hunters, anglers, and trappers.
UPCOMING OTG EVENTS:
January 19, 2019 St. Clair State Game Area
On Saturday, January 19 from 9am-1pm volunteers will be thinning boxelder trees and constructing rabbit habitat at St. Clair State Game Area. Volunteers are encouraged to bring work gloves, chainsaws and corresponding PPE gear. All other necessary items will be provided. Participants will be given lunch and a free t-shirt. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
February 2, 2019 Shiawassee River State Game Area
On Saturday, February 2 (date subject to change depending on ice conditions) volunteers will be constructing and placing wood duck boxes at Shiawassee River State Game Area. The project is scheduled to run from 9am-1pm that day. Lunch, warm drinks, and a free t-shirt will be provided to all volunteers. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
February 23, 2019 Maple River State Game Area
On Saturday, February 23 volunteers will be meeting at Maple River State Game Area to cut and clear brush along dikes, and cut an opening in D unit for better migratory bird access. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
March 9, 2019 Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area
On March 9, 2019 volunteers will be building rabbit on Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area. Volunteers are encouraged to bring work gloves and personal protection equipment if they have it. If they do not, some will be available for use at the project. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
March 30, 2019 Danville State Game Area
On March 30, 2019 volunteers will be clearing a trail for better hunter access on Danville State Game Area. The felled trees will then be used in the same project to create rabbitat in the surrounding area. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
Winter 2019, Dingman Marsh
On a date TBD, volunteers from the Cheboygan Sharp Tailed Grouse Association will be pruning and restoring apple trees at Dingman Marsh. More information, including an official date, will become available soon.
Spring 2019 Gwinn State Forest
In May 2019, volunteers will be planting crabapple and apple trees in Gwinn State Forest. In addition, we will be sheltering these trees to give them a chance to develop. More information will be available as the date approaches.
Spring 2019 Port Huron State Game Area
In spring 2019, volunteers will be planting mast-producing shrubs for the local pheasant population on Port Huron State Game Area. Volunteers are encouraged to bring shovels and work gloves, but some will be available for use at the project. More details including time and date will be posted as they become available.
Spring 2019 Barry State Game Area
On a date TBD, from 9am-2pm volunteers will be planting trees in the Barry State Game Area. These trees will provide cover and browse for the area’s wildlife. More details to come.
June 29, 2019 Houghton Lake Area
On June 29, 2019, volunteers will kick off our annual convention in the Houghton Lake GEMS site by planting mast-producing shrubs for local wildlife populations. Additionally, we will be adding fencing structures around the shrubs for protection until they are well established. More details will become available as the date approaches.
July 6, 2019 Clinton River Clean Up
On July 6 volunteers will be cleaning up the Clinton River for Metro-West Steelheaders annual event. Attendees will meet at Yates Park across from Yates Cider Mill in Rochester, Michigan. Volunteers are encouraged to bring waders if they have them, as it makes access to certain spots on the river much easier. More details including the official time will be updated as they become available.
COMPLETED OTG EVENTS:
December 2, 2017 Allegan State Game Area
A total of 19 volunteers continued efforts to promote aspen regeneration near the Fennville Farm Unit. Over-mature Aspen trees were cut to allow sunlight through for young aspen growth. The trunks and branches were stacked into 6 large brush piles for rabbitat.
February 17, 2018 Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area
A total of 21 volunteers built over 50 new brush piles for rabbitat in the Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area. This project was coordinated with Gib King of Land Ethics LLC and volunteers also enjoyed the unique opportunity to spend an afternoon shooting clays and rabbit hunting in the area!
February 24, 2018 Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area
A total of 18 volunteers worked to complete habitat work in a wildlife opening in the Gratiot-Saginaw SGA. For the past 3 years, volunteers and students from the Midland-Dow High Conservation Club have been working hard to restore a wildlife opening by cutting encroaching timber and shrubs and building brush piles for rabbitat; that area is now clear of timber and shrubs and can be further prepared for planting in the future!
March 17, 2018 Dansville State Game Area
On Saturday, March 17th from 9am-2pm, a group of 12 volunteers improved hunter access trails and built 10 brush piles for rabbitat at the Dansville State Game Area’s Hewes Lake area.
March 24-25, 2018 Rose Lake Shooting Range (Glassen Building)
On Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th, 2018, MUCC’s On the Ground program and the Heavy Equipment Response Coalition are offered a Chainsaw Safety Training course for 32 participants. The course was hosted at the Hal & Jean Glassen building at the Rose Lake State Game Area.
April 10, 2018 Lapeer State Game Area (OTG Jr)
On Tuesday, April 10th from 9am-2pm a group of over 20 home-school students from Genesee County improved wildlife conditions in the Lapeer State Game Area by cleaning up two large dump sites along Byers Rd in the areas Central Unit. The group removed enough trash and debris to fill a 20-yard dumpster!
April 21, 2018 Crane Pond State Game Area
On Saturday, April 21st from 10am-2pm, a group of 14 volunteers planted 400 tree seedlings in 3-gallon pots at the Crane Pond SGA DNR Field Office. These trees will be monitored and cared for until they are large enough to plant in wildlife openings in the area to provide browse and thermal cover for the area’s wildlife!
April 22, 2018 Huron-Manistee National Forest: Baldwin
On Sunday, April 22nd from 9am-3pm, a total of 23 volunteers planted 345 mast producing trees in openings and along roads in the Huron-Manistee National Forest near Baldwin, MI. This project was partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation’s District Biologist, Ryan Boyer and Heather Keough with the Huron-Manistee USFS.
April 28, 2018 Gladwin GEMS Area
On Saturday, April 28th, a group of over 20 volunteers planted 60 trees and placed fencing structures around each tree in the Gladwin GEMS Area. The group planted 40 different varieties of apple trees and 20 crabapple trees in groups of 10 at sites adjacent to wildlife openings in the Lame Duck Foot Access Area, Gladwin County, Michigan. This was a joint project between the DNR Wildlife Division and the North Central Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and a local Girl Scout troop!
May 2, 2018 Elmwood Twp Mini-State Game Area (OTG Jr)
On Wednesday, May 2nd from 9am-2pm a total of 17 students with the Reese Out of Doors Club completed a wildlife habitat program for the fourth year in a row with OTG Jr. The group planted 600 shrubs along a roadway in the Elmowwod Twp Mini SGA to provide cover for pheasants in the area. 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, a total 0f 25 students from the Cramer Jr High Service Club pulled garlic mustard and removed invasives including glossy buckthorn, autumn olive, and more in the Tobico Marsh area. This group removed over 30 bags of garlic mustard and other invasives from the area last year! The students enjoyed an afternoon of fishing after the habitat work was completed.
May 20, 2018 Gwinn State Forest
On Saturday, May 20th from 9am-3pm a group of 16 volunteers planted 110 mast-producing trees in the Gwinn State Forest. Volunteers also placed fencing structures around the newly planted trees. These trees will provide browse for the areas whitetail deer, black bear, turkey, grouse, and more!
May 30 & 31, 2018 Rose Lake State Game Area (OTG Jr)
On Wednesday, May 30th and Thursday, May 31st, 100 students from Murphy Elementary in the Haslett public schools built brush piles and pulled enough garlic mustard and dames rocket to fill over 25 large trash bags. This project was coordinated with Zsa Mahon and her 5th-grade classes with our On the Ground Jr program!
June 2, 2018 Pigeon River Country State Forest
On Saturday, June 2nd from 9AM-4PM a group of 20 volunteers with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) completed elk habitat improvement for their annual habitat workday in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. This year, volunteers planted 40 oak trees and removed fencing from a newly acquired property near the Johnson’s Crossing area.
June 9, 2018 Pigeon River Country State Forest
On Saturday, June 9th from 9AM-2PM volunteers improved wildlife habitat in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. Volunteers cut encroaching timber to open up an area with an oak understory to allow better regeneration of the mast-producing species. The project location was near Pickerel Lake.
June 22, 2018 Gladwin Grouse Enhanced Management Site (GEMS)
On Friday, June 22nd from 10AM-2PM, volunteers kicked off MUCC’s Annual Convention by improving hunter walking trails in the Gladwin GEMS Lame Duck Foot Access Area. Volunteers will be built a boardwalk in the area.
July 14, 2018 Clinton River Clean-Up
On Saturday, July 14th from 9am-2pm, volunteers met to improve water quality and fish habitat for the annual Clinton River clean-up hosted by the Metro-West Steelheaders and OTG. Attendees were encouraged to bring waders if they had them, however a limited number of them were available for use at the event.
July 21, 2018 Manistee River Clean-Up
On Saturday, July 21st from 9am-2pm, volunteers met for the annual Manistee River clean-up hosted by Steelhead Manifesto and OTG. Many participants brought personal boats and spent the rainy afternoon hauling trash out of the river. At the end of the day, volunteers enjoyed pizza and prizes raffled off by Steelhead Manifesto.
July 25, 2018 Lake Interstate State Game Area
On Wednesday, July 25 from 7pm-10pm, the Michigan State University Glassen Scholars class of 2018 will be removing a dock from the Lake Interstate State Game Area. This dock is frequently used by anglers, hunters, and recreationists alike, but is unsafe for public use. The Glassen Scholars will be removing the dock entirely so that a new, safer one may be constructed in its place.
August 18, 2018 Shiawassee River State Game Area
On Saturday, August 18th volunteers will be improved wildlife habitat in the Shiawassee River State Game Area. This project involved cutting overgrown willow that was encroaching on riverbanks and felling cottonwood that was utilizing resources necessary for native, useful species to thrive.
September 8, 2018 Grayling State Forest
On Saturday, September 8th from 9am-3pm, volunteers planted crabapple trees in Grayling State Forest. It was a joint day with partners including Ruffed Grouse Society, Michigan DNR, National Wild Turkey Federation, OTG, Au Sable North Branch Area Foundation and DVMA, and nearly all 150 trees were in the ground and left to grow when the project concluded.
September 22, 2018 Keeler State Game Area
On September 22, from 9am-2pm volunteers built brush piles for rabbit habitat in the Keeler State Game Area. These brush piles will provide cover for the areas cottontail rabbits and many other wildlife species. At the conclusion of the day, over 20 piles were built and ready for the local population to take up residency. This project worked closely with the Michigan State chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
October 23, 2018 Petobego State Game Area – OTG Jr.
On Tuesday, October 23 from 8:30am-2:30pm school kids from Grand Traverse Academy grades 3-5 constructed rabbit habitat at Petobego State Game Area. The kids learned about habitat for different species that are native to Michigan, as well as why it is important and crucial to provide these areas for them. At the conclusion of the project, they all enjoyed a pheasant habitat game, Michigan waterfowl ID, and shooting archery.