With the new year just over a week away, this year's hunting season has just about come to an end for most of us. Even when the season is over, it's time to focus on next year’s hunt- starting with habitat improvements. MUCC’s volunteer based wildlife habitat program focuses on habitat restoration all year round. (Read about the impact of the 2015 On the Ground season in this previous blog here; volunteer numbers, acres, and habitat projects are highlighted). A new year brings in new habitat projects for 2016.
This marks the fourth year of MUCC's volunteer-based wildlife habitat program; launched in 2013 with 6 pilot projects. Over 800 volunteers have been involved in at total of 46 habitat improvement projects throughout the state. This year, there will be 20 wildlife habitat projects completed. Here are some of the wildlife habitat projects lined up for 2016 state-wide:
• January 16, 2016 MUCC Chainsaw Safety Course
We will be hosting Chuck Oslund here at MUCC to teach a 1 day chainsaw safety course. It is highly recommended for volunteers to utilize this opportunity to learn the proper felling techniques we use on wildlife habitat projects.
• January 30, 2016 Grayling State Forest
We will be hinge cutting trees to improve habitat for snowshoe hare. Hinge cutting balsam fir and other brushy pine types will provide the dense cover that the hares need to survive the winter climate and escape from predators!
• TBD February 2016 Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area
Join us for an event with the Midland-Dow High School Conservation Club. We will be cutting trees and stacking them to build large brush piles for rabbitat.
• March 5, 2016 Fulton/Gourdneck State Game Area
We will be cutting trees and stacking them into large brush-piles for rabbits and other small game to take cover under.
• March 19, 2016 Crane Pond State Game Area
Register your youth to partake in this youth rabbit hunt at the Crane Pond State Game Area where we have previously built brush piles for rabbitat in several locations.
• April 9, 2016 Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy Preserve
We will be building brush piles for rabbitat on one of the SBLC’s Nature Preserves.
• April 23, 2016 Crane Pond State Game Area
We will be planting mast bearing trees for wildlife in the Crane Pond State Game Area to provide more browse for overwintering.
• Summer 2016 Rose Lake State Game Area
We will be cutting black locust trees and using them to build large brush piles for rabbitat!
• Summer 2016 Pigeon River Country State Forest
We will be planting trees and maintaining wildlife openings by removing encroaching timber.
• July 16, 2016 Clinton River Clean-Up
We will be partnering with he Metro West Steelheaders and Clinton River Watershed Council to remove trash and debris from a popular section of the Clinton River.
• Fall 2016 Allegan State Game Area
We will be removing old fencing from an area to remove wildlife access barriers and placing brush piles for rabbitat along the outer edges of the field.
You can see more details about each of the events here, as well as RSVP to volunteer for wildlife. Each wildlife habitat project is determined by the area's DNR Wildlife Biologist based on needs for specific species, but many habitat projects benefit multiple species. I look forward to lacing up my leather work boots and traveling with the sunrise to work along side all of the dedicated volunteers that help to improve Michigan's wildlife habitat on our public lands.
Until then, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!