By Makhayla LaButte

On Wednesday, October 23, 70 students, teachers and chaperones from the Grand Traverse Academy improved wildlife habitat in the Traverse City State Forest by planting native shrubs in select openings. DNR Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffith began the project by providing students with an introduction to the history and management of the state forest and how the native shrubs will benefit wildlife in the area and the ecosystem as a whole.

Shovels and shrubs in hand, the students quickly separated into groups with their teachers and chaperones to begin the planting.  Students were given a tutorial on how to properly plant and apply mulch to the shrubs before they began, which gave them the opportunity to ask questions and put their new tree-planting skills to use. The trees were placed along the “drip-edge” of the openings to capture water falling from the canopy of the established forest surrounding the openings and to leave room for future management to occur without disturbing the new shrubs. These students were so efficient and motivated that they were able to plant all 80 shrubs along the edges of the openings in just over one hour.

Following the successful planting, students were given the opportunity to participate in three different activities with MUCC staff. Three groups of students spent an hour before and after lunch cycling through the archery program, the waterfowl identification station, and a “pheasant game” that highlights the importance of habitat and predator-prey dynamics in the wild. Not only did students have the opportunity to directly improve local wildlife habitat in the Traverse City area, but they were able to develop new outdoor/natural resources skills as well.

It was another successful fall OTG Jr. event, and we appreciate the opportunity to partner with the DNR Wildlife Division and the Grand Traverse Academy!

Please contact MUCC Habitat Volunteer Coordinator Makhayla LaButte at mlabutte@mucc.org with any questions and comments or to get involved with the award-winning OTG and OTG Jr. programs.

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