Last weekend’s wildlife habitat project was a great one in the Upper Peninsula’s Shingleton State Forest Garden Grade Rd Grouse Enhanced Management Site (GEMS) area. There was a turnout of 21 volunteers, despite the rain, to plant 230 mast-producing trees and shrubs. The trees and shrubs planted included ninebark, American mountain ash, American hazelnut, and highbush cranberry. Volunteers planted along logging roadways to enhance 20 acres of grouse habitat in a recently forested stand to promote aspen regeneration. Grouse were spotted by a few lucky volunteers along the way; this site will be a thriving habitat for the game bird in the next five to ten years of growth!


Many of the volunteers were local to the area in some way. MUCC’s Vice President/President Elect/Chair of the Policy Board, George Lindquist, volunteered representing U.P. Whitetails of Marquette County. George took the time to improve wildlife habitat before heading to his family’s camp nearby (across to the Lake Superior side) for a reunion. Gordon Smith and his daughter, Amelia, spent their morning planting trees as they were up at their camp for the weekend. Amelia, just 10 years old, was telling me about the buck she has picked out on their game camera for this Fall’s hunt; she’s harvested seven bucks in her youth. What a great way to give back to the public land she hunts. Jack Lockwood, retired District Forester, spent over 30 years working in the Escanaba State Forest and still finds time to improve habitat.


Steve and Karen Rodock volunteered to represent the Ruffed Grouse Society in the area. The area’s DNR Wildlife Biologist, Cody Norton, and DNR Wildlife Assistant, Don Brown, commuted almost an hour to the Shingleton State Forest Field office and another hour to the project site. It was great to have their families there to volunteer as well, moms and toddlers make great tree planting teams! The DNR seasonal employee, Dave Dominique, brought his wife Cindy with her sister, Diane, to help out as well! It doesn’t end there. The family of Billy Rollo volunteered to stay involved in his lifelong passion of wildlife. Thank you Andrea, Lizzy, Landen, and Lori for showing your support at this project!


Although the targeted species for this project was grouse, other species such as whitetail deer, snowshoe hare, woodcock, black bear, rabbits, and more will benefit from the trees and shrubs providing both browse and cover. The Garden Grade Rd GEMS area is 1 of 17 total GEMS areas in the state, 12 of which are located in the Upper Peninsula itself. See a detailed map and description of the areas here.

“The Garden Grade GEMS was established in 2015 at the top of the Garden Peninsula. With a heavy aspen presence this approximate 7,000 acre are of state forest land will give you plenty of space to venture out. Over 12 miles of hunter walking trail for those who prefer but don’t forget you can get off and break the brush off trail to flush those birds. The main parking area on Garden Grade Road just south of Highway 2 will have GEMS information available. Don’t forget to visit nearby businesses offering great discounts to GEMS hunters.”


September 10, 2016 Petobego State Game Area

We will be building brush piles for rabbitat by using down trees from recent storms in the area.


September 24, 2016 Gourdneck State Game Area

We will be building brush piles for rabbitat with Boy Scout Troop 253 out of Vicksburg, MI as one of the scouts’ Eagle Scout project.


September 27, 2016 Muskegon State Game Area

We will be working with students from Ravenna schools to break the tops of small aspen saplings to promote regeneration along a wide two track that runs through a recent timber sale stand. This will benefit the areas whitetail deer, turkey, woodcock, and small game.

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