MUCC’s next wildlife habitat improvement project will be at the Gourdneck State Game Area on Saturday, January 14th 2017; the weekend after MUCC’s Chainsaw Safety Training with Chuck Oslund. Volunteers have completed several projects at the nearby Fulton State Game Area and Allegan State Game Area, but this will be the first at the Gourdneck SGA. This project has been planned and coordinated by Tyler Sands with Boy Scout Troop 253 of Vicksburg, MI for his Eagle Scout Project. The DNR Wildlife Biologist for Michigan’s southwest region, Mark Mills, has been a great advocate of collaborating with the local Boy Scout Troops to complete a few of these wildlife habitat improvement projects.
Local Boy Scout Troop 147, also out of Vicksburg, has shown their support at several of MUCC’s wildlife habitat projects since the start of the program in 2013. Boy Scout Tyler Borden completed his Eagle Scout Project building brush piles for rabbitat in the Fulton SGA in March of 2015. This year, on January 14th, 2017, Tyler Sands will be completing his Eagle Scout Project in the Gourdneck SGA building brush piles for rabbitat. Tyler has spent months coordinating with Mark Mills and me to get his project approved. Yesterday afternoon, Tyler, Mark Mills, fellow Eagle Scout- Bill Dawson, and I met in the Gourdneck SGA to do a site walk through and prep for the project day. Our goal is to have all trees needed for the brush piles to be felled and pre-cut before the project date.
The area is an open field with a pine, oak, and cherry tree forest edge. There are also some existing clumps of autmn olive that are proving to be highly used for the current rabbit habitat. Activity is high in those areas, but not throughout the field or much movement through the forest edge. By building these large brush piles every 40 yards along the forest edge, the rabbits will have more cover to move through the area. This already looks like a great spot to hunt cottontails, but it will be exceptional when next season comes around after they have been utilizing the brush piles.
There will be ~15 Boy Scouts volunteering to help at the Eagle Scout Project day. They will be moving heavy logs to establish the base of the brush piles and then will stack remaining logs and branches on top. More volunteers are welcome and encouraged to participate in this event-see details and RSVP here. These brush piles will provide cover for the areas cottontail rabbits and other small game species as well as providing another improved location for rabbit hunting or running dogs. Tyler and his dad, Mike Sands, have volunteered to improve wildlife habitat at several of MUCC’s projects in the Fulton SGA and Allegan SGA since 2014. Thank you for your dedication to improving and restoring wildlife habitat on our public lands!
ALSO UPCOMING NEXT:
On Saturday, January 28th, we will be meeting at the Grayling State Forest DNR Field Office at 9AM to improve snowshoe hare habitat. This project involves hinge-cutting balsam fir and other brushy pine types to provide the dense cover that the hares need to survive the winter climate and escape from predators. There were signs of use of the hinge-cuts by snowshoe hares within just a couple of weeks after this event in prior years! See more details and RSVP to volunteer here.