Livin' Wild Wednesday: A Great Day for Conservation

govsnyderdky Governor Snyder "Lived the Wildlife" today.
Today is a great day for conservation in Michigan. It's as simple as that. From Lansing to the U.P., big things happened today for those who care about the wise use of Michigan's natural resources.
This morning, MUCC members, staff and volunteers met at the Gwinn DNR Field Office in Marquette County. We carpooled down to the new Grouse Enhanced Management system trail south of town, where DNR staff had placed trees, shovels and bags of black dirt for volunteers to plant.
We'd hauled 25 crabapple trees to plant, too, courtesy of Pete Demos and the Black Mountain Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation; it was surreal to haul trees back into the U.P. since about 125 years ago my great-great-grandpa made a living hauling them out as a teamster for a logging outfit up here.
Volunteers came from all over Michigan and from all different conservation user groups, from U.P. Whitetails, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, AmeriCorps, the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance, the Marquette County Conservation District, MUCC board members and many more.
image Governor Snyder with MUCC's Amy Trotter
They were soon joined by Governor Rick Snyder, Representative John Kivela, DNR Director Keith Creagh, NRC Commissioner J.R. Richardson, DNR Forestry Chief Bill O'Neil, the Governor's U.P. liason Dave Nyberg and more dignitaries who quickly grabbed shovels and got to work planting trees!
It really says something for the conservation community in Michigan when Governor Snyder took time out his incredibly hectic schedule to be a part of it, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hunters, anglers and trappers to improve wildlife habitat (and even rib me a little for digging too deep of a hole). The project also showed that conservation is a bipartisan issue, as Representative John Kivela volunteered and planted trees, too.
After the work was done, volunteers returned to the DNR Field Office for a lunch of brats grilled up by MUCC board members. At this lunch, we also presented a Special Conservation Award to Al Ettenhofer of U.P. Whitetails, Inc., for his extraordinary contributions to the petition drive for the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act, including collecting signatures over the winter in -22 degrees on a day much different than this sunny Wednesday in August.
IMG_20140813_123648_962 MUCC Executive Director Dan Eichinger presents a Special Conservation Award to Al Ettenhofer.
It was fortuitous, because as I got out of my SUV back at the hotel where staff is staying, my colleague Amy Trotter shouted across the parking lot that the Senate had passed the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act 23-10! I couldn't resist jumping up and clicking my cowboy boot heals together in celebration.
Because everything that happened today was a celebration for conservation: putting back what we take, improving habitat for the wildlife we hunt, and making decisions about how we wisely use natural resources like fish and wildlife with sound science.
Now the the Act will head to the House, and Rep. Kivela, a Democrat, told me today that he "couldn't wait to press the green button" for it. And that's because conservation is a bipartisan issue. The people of Michigan, people like Al Ettenhofer, petitioned their democratically-elected legislators to make fish and wildlife conservation decisions for sound science, and their legislators are listening to them. Legislators from both sounds of the aisle, or, as it happened today, both sides of the grouse trail.
image (1) DNR biologist Brian Roell briefs volunteers on the Grouse Enhanced Management System.
And this needs to be said and said very clearly: the DNR staff did an incredible job of setting up this volunteer event, particularly wildlife technician Bill Rollo, who also helped set up our oak planting project in June near Au Train.
Today, ordinary hunters and anglers, professional and volunteer conservationists, legislators and our governor joined together to volunteer for wildlife habitat at just about the same time that the Senate was voting to uphold the principles of conservation in our state. In other words, they were united to conserve, protect and defend Michigan's natural resources and outdoor heritage. Today, MUCC lived up to its mission, and that's a great day for conservation.

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