Livin' Wild Wednesday: Back Where I Come From

DSCN0090Last week, I invited you up to volunteer for fish habitat on Kingston Lake, in the U.P., and quite a few of you showed up and got some great work done, installing 21 fish structures in one day! After the volunteer workday, though, I had the opportunity to return to my hometown of Central Lake, and was prouder than you can imagine to see the conservation efforts coming out of that small town of less than 1,000 people.
The reason I was going back was to set up a booth at the Antrim Outdoor Fest to promote the On the Ground (OTG) program and Michigan OutofDoors Magazine. The festival is in its sophomore year, held at Thurston Park on Intermediate Lake. The village of Central Lake was the recipient this year of a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to renovate the park, providing better access to fishing and boating, for disabled persons, and to extend the park campground and improve its facilities.
Thurston Park is also where I learned to swim and where my older cousin Steve took me fishing for the first time, and I have more stories of fishing on Intermediate Lake with my grandpa or tubing with my friends than I can fit in this blog. I'm glad these improvements will allow more people to have those same experiences, like the eight-year old son of one of my best friends, who fishes there every chance he gets. AntrimOutdoorFest
The fest was organized by Bill Truscott, a pro staffer for Wildlife Addictions Outdoors, Stinkfinger and Muddy Water Camo. Oh yeah, and a Central Lake native. Bill is a flurry of activity; in between hunting and bowfishing trips around the country, he's organizing Antrim Outdoors into a nonprofit organization capable of spreading awareness about aquatic invasives and doing on-the-ground conservation work.
He spearheaded the Antrim Outdoors Fest to celebrate the area's tremendous hunting and fishing opportunities, and provided the platform free for conservation groups like ours to spread the message.
We weren't the only ones invited, though: Bill recruited numerous other bow shops, knife makers, CPL instructors, and even some stand-up paddle boarding, too. His own son was teaching people how to bowfish. He also brought Jimmy Gretzinger from Michigan Out of Doors TV, Smokey the Bear, Brenda Archambo - the "Sturgeon General," - who is involved with Sturgeon for Tomorrow and the National Wildlife Federation, Brian Kozminski of True North Trout, the Loon Network, and another CL native, Tim Paczesny, whose Education Outdoors company produces board games and toys that teach kids about the outdoors. I couldn't resist buying his "Fish Camp" game for my niece. 
The Antrim Outdoors Fest was a great event that celebrated everything that my hometown is all about: hunting, fishing, innovation, family and community. And since the goal of the On the Ground program is to build a conservation community across Michigan, it was pretty cool to connect my own hometown community to it. But what I quickly realized was that my hometown was already part of the conservation community. And it's not alone.
During my 1-week, 1,000-mile road trip across Michigan, which began with the Clinton River cleanup in Rochester Hills, a brief stop in the office in Lansing, then to Grand Marais (where I had a burger at my favorite writer's favorite restaurant there), then home to Central Lake and Ann Arbor, I met an incredible amount of Michiganders who are stepping up for conservation.
From cleaning up 500 pounds of trash in the Clinton River, to installing 21 fish structures in the U.P.'s Kingston Lake, to entire communities celebrating outdoor heritage, Michigan's conservation community is active, strong and growing stronger. That's why Governor Rick Snyder is going to be celebrating conservation and volunteering, personally, to improve grouse habitat at the Grouse Enhanced Management (GEM) trail south of Gwinn, in the Upper Peninsula, on August 13.
OTG Gov. Snyder Banner2I know it's a weekday, but if you can make the drive, you'll have an opportunity to meet Governor Snyder and express your concerns, thoughts, and ideas about conservation and protecting our outdoor heritage, not to mention improve public land grouse hunting habitat and get a really cool t-shirt to go with it.
Sign up by clicking here!
Governor Snyder has been a tremendous advocate for volunteerism with his Do Something initiative, and he signed the license restructuring bill that makes the investments in conservation Michigan needs and makes projects like these possible.
There's a lot of great things being done for conservation in Michigan. Come out and join the fun on August 13, or at one of of our other projects, listed here: If one small northern Michigan town can make such a big impact, imagine what you can do!
Livin' Wild Wednesday is the new weekly blog from MUCC Grassroots Manager Drew YoungeDyke.

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