Written by Huron Pines Americorp Member Joe Dewan
Photo Credits to Dave Courey

On Feb. 22, 24 volunteers came out to help Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maple River Wildlife Association improve wetland habitat at the Maple River State Game Area (SGA).

This was the first On the Ground (OTG) event of 2020, and we had a beautiful, sunny day to be out and working on our public land. The volunteers split into three groups to cover and improve 36 acres of habitat. One group of volunteers went out to check existing wood duck nesting boxes for any successful hatches, re-fill them with nesting material and prepare them for the nesting season. Another group went out and installed four new wood duck boxes to increase the amount of nesting habitat in the SGA. A third group went off to remove woody brush from a dike to prevent the roots destabilizing the dike and reduce the amount of future maintenance required.

I helped with the third group, which cleared the woody brush from the dike. I had never attended an OTG event before this Saturday, and this was my first time out in the field as the Huron Pines AmeriCorps member with MUCC. While I have enjoyed each day I have spent with MUCC, Saturday stands out as my favorite because it was such a great day and I cannot believe that I had never been out to an OTG event before. I enjoyed learning from the DNR about how these projects would improve wetland habitat and seeing how much we accomplished in only 3.5 hours.

We had a strong showing from the Maple River Wildlife Association — a local group of duck hunters who promoted the event and brought some great volunteers. I want to thank all of those who came out to volunteer, and I cannot wait to get out in the field again and work side by side with some more amazing people.

Thankfully, I will not have to wait long — this Saturday, Feb. 29, MUCC will be partnering with the DNR and the Shiawassee Flats Citizens and Hunters Association (SFCHA) at the Shiawassee River SGA. We will be working to improve wetland habitat by placing new wood duck nest boxes and checking and preparing existing boxes. It should be a great educational opportunity for all volunteers. Volunteers are encouraged to dress in warm layers and bring proper winter gear for this event, but PPE and a delicious free lunch will be provided by MUCC. We will begin at 9 a.m. at the St. Charles DNR Field Office at 225 E Spruce St, St Charles, MI 48655.

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