Volunteers Plant Crabapple Trees for Turkeys in Northern Michigan
At the preschool I attended as a kid, there was a crabapple tree in the backyard where us four-year olds would throw the fruit at each other. On Saturday, October 19, I discovered a much better use for them when twenty volunteers planted 130 crabapple trees on state land southeast of Gaylord.
The volunteer project, part of the Michigan On-the-Ground partnership between MUCC and the DNR’s Wildlife and Fisheries Division, built upon the hard work and generosity of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which had donated the trees to the DNR and whose volunteers cared for them all summer and fall. Crabapples provide winter food for wild turkeys and songbirds and these ones, planted near and amongst red pine and oak plantings, will provide understory mast in the coming decades.
Volunteers met at the Gaylord DNR station to load the trees into pickup trucks, then drove almost 20 miles in a mini-convoy to the planting sites on state land off of Turtle Lake and Gingell Roads. A traffic light re-routed a few of the trucks on the way there and one volunteer’s ’57 Ford flatbed pickup stalled out on an access trail, but we all made it eventually and got the trees in the ground. The digging wasn’t too difficult with the sandy soil and furrowed rows, but it was anything but comfortable in sub-50 degree weather and persistent rain.
Once all the trees were planted at the two sites, volunteers placed plastic weed barriers around them pinned to the earth with large staple-like stakes. With the hard work finished, they returned to the DNR Operations Center for a post-workday cook-out featuring Polish Sausage, jumbo hot dogs, chips and hot apple cider and were on to the rest of their day by half-past noon.
Thank you to William and Alexander Darnell, Adam Lawnichak, Denny and Kellen YoungeDyke, Mark Malone, Jack and Judy VanRhee, Mark VanBogelen, Jack Marlette, Brad Robinson, Alyssa Huett, Dave and Nancy Osterman, Stewart Smith, Douglas Reeves, Walter Gumtow, Tom Lenantowicz and a longtime MUCC and NTWF supporter who wished to remain unnamed for spending a cold, wet, drizzly Saturday morning improving habitat for wildlife – you truly exemplify what it means to be hunter-conservationists!