Last weekend, a group of 7 volunteers continued an aspen regeneration project in the Fennville Farm Unit of the Allegan State Game Area. This was the fifth project in the location since the start of the On the Ground program in 2013. I was able to look at the previous year’s work area and saw great results of abundant aspen seedlings spanning the open area. The small pocket in the stand was just over one acre and was previously a closed canopy area with over-mature aspen. There are now two different areas that are regenerating young aspen to provide browse and thick cover for wildlife where only old-growth aspen trees stood just a few years ago.
There was also a prominent game trail following the perimeter of the opening with deer tracks and plenty of rabbit tracks going throughout the site from one brush pile to the next. During these aspen regeneration projects, volunteers cut over-mature aspen trees and any surrounding trees that have been subjected to disease. Some trees are left where they’re felled, but many are cut and stacked into large brush piles for rabbit habitat. These areas also provide plentiful browse and cover for whitetail deer, turkey, and other game species in the area.
This year, the group worked in a new stand close to the previous project location and started to open up pockets in a 2.5 acre stand. Volunteers also built 6 large brush piles for rabbitat in the area. Volunteer and President of the Pigeon River Country Assosciation, Stewart Smith, traveled through the brunt of a snowstorm to help out on Saturday. Volunteer Jim Blough traveled from Middleville and also attended the habitat workday in September restoring a pine-oak savanna in the Allegan SGA. Bethy Williams also volunteered, making her 19th OTG event! Tyler Sands and his dad, Mike Sands, volunteered and represented Boy Scout Troop 253 out of Vicksburg, MI. Mike and Tyler worked with the areas DNR Wildlife Technician, Mike Richardson, to gain experience for Tyler’s upcoming Eagle Scout project.
Tyler has been coordinating with Mark Mills, the Allegan SGA’s DNR Wildlife Biologist, and me to complete his Eagle Scout project as an OTG project in the Gourdneck State Game Area. After several approval requests and a lot of planning and logistics, Tyler has successfully scheduled his project for January 14th, 2017; a rabbitat project in the Gourdneck State Game Area- see more details and RSVP here. There will be a good amount of support from his troop, but volunteers are encouraged to attend as well! After the New Year, we are hosting Chuck Oslund at MUCC for the third year in a row to teach his Chainsaw Safety Course; the roster for this class has already filled up! On January 28th, we will be restoring snowshoe hare habitat in the Grayling State Forest for the fourth year in a row; see more details and RSVP to volunteer here. See more upcoming events at www/mucc.org/ontheground and RSVP to volunteer for wildlife!
MUCC's On The Ground Program is supported by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division