This past weekend, volunteers built seven large brush piles in the Petobego State Game Area along the hunter access footpath. The group utilized downed trees from last year’s severe windstorm the impacted the area. The hunter access footpath extends one mile from the parking area to the lakeshore; volunteers were able to clear trees from half a mile of the footpath. The trunk sections were used to create the base for brush piles and smaller limbs and branches were piled on top. These brush piles will provide cover for the areas cottontail rabbit population as well as other small game.
The severe storms stacked trees up to 8ft high in sections of the Petobego SGA, but it did make for great habitat improvement in a few sections. Some sections were completely closed canopy before the storm, and now are pockets of two to seven acres of open canopy, allowing regeneration of young aspen, maple, and oaks. Many of the downed trees are also still producing foliage; this provides both cover and browse at the ground level for the areas deer, bear, and small game. In some cases, severe storm damage isn’t such a bad thing!
Thank you to volunteers Bethy Williams, Daniel Naru, and Jacob Schmalzried, who helped to improve wildlife habitat in the Petobego SGA, along with the areas DNR Wildlife Biologist, Steve Griffith. Bethy has dedicated 16 Saturdays to these projects since this time last year! Daniel is a Spartan Alumni, now a Traverse City local, who returned to Michigan after spending over 30 years living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He put in a hard day’s work to improve wildlife habitat and enjoyed the lakeshore scenery waiting at the end of the one-mile trail. Jacob is also local to the area and volunteered to represent the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He was glad to give back to public lands and is looking forward to the upcoming archery season.
As the autumn season approaches, MUCC’s wildlife habitat program will complete the final two projects for a total of twenty projects completed this cycle. On Saturday, September 24th we will be in the Allegan State Game Area working with Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) Ecologist Jesse Lincoln. We will be completing the first phase of a savanna restoration project. Volunteers will be opening up a unique savanna type area by removing encroaching timber and stacking it into brush piles. This habitat will benefit a variety of wildlife such as turkey, rabbits, squirrels, and the Karner blue butterfly as well as native plants important to the ecosystem.
On Tuesday, September 27th we will be in the Muskegon State Game Area working with the Ravenna Schools Plant Science classes. The group will be promoting lateral aspen regeneration in a recent clear-cut stand. While this season is almost wrapped up, there will be plenty more wildlife habitat event opportunities starting late December 2016 through September 2018. Keep up with upcoming wildlife habitat projects and RSVP to volunteer at www.mucc.org/ontheground.