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 1,600 volunteers have improved fish and game habitat through weekend projects like 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:
On Saturday, April 21st from 10am-2pm, volunteers will be planting 300 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-see more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
On Sunday, April 22nd from 9am-3pm, volunteers will be planting mast producing trees in openings and along roads in the Huron-Manistee National Forest near Baldwin, MI. This project is partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation. See more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
On Saturday, April 28th from 9am-2pm, volunteers will continue wildlife habitat improvements in the area by building brush piles for rabbitat. This project has been completed in the region each year since the start of the program in 2013!
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!
On Saturday, May 12th 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 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.
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!
On Saturday, June 2nd from 9AM-4PM we will be partnering with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) for their annual habitat workday in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. This year, volunteers will be planting trees as well as removing some fencing from a newly acquired property near the Johnson’s Crossing area. Please see more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
On Saturday, June 9th from 9AM-2PM we will be improving wildlife habitat in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. Volunteers will be cutting encroaching timber to open up an area with an oak understory to allow better regeneration of the mast-producing species. The project location will be near Pickerel Lake. See more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
On Friday, June 22nd from 10AM-2PM, we will be kicking off MUCC’s Annual Convention by improving hunter walking trails in the Gladwin GEMS Lame Duck Foot Access Area. Volunteers will be building a boardwalk in the area. See more details and RSVP to volunteer here!
July 14, 2018 Clinton River Clean-Up
On Saturday, July 14th from 9am-2pm, volunteers will meet for the annual Clinton River clean-up hosted by the Metro-West Steelheaders and OTG. More details to come.
August 18, 2018 Shiawassee River State Game Area
On Saturday, August 18th from 9AM-12PM and 1PM-4PM volunteers will be improving wildlife habitat in the Shiawassee River SGA as part of the Joint Partner Habitat Day. This project will involve attendees participating in the Habitat Day and projects will include willow cutting along banks and installing fencing structures around trees that were previously planted in the area. More details to come.
September 8, 2018 Grayling State Forest
On Saturday, September 8th from 9am-3pm, volunteers will be planting trees and shrubs to provide cover and browse for turkey. This project is partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). More details to come.
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!