On the Ground (OTG) is MUCC’s volunteer fish and wildlife habitat improvement program. Launched in 2013 with six pilot projects, it won Outdoor Life magazine’s inaugural Open Country award for its partnership with the Department of Natural Resources.
Over 1,150 volunteers have improved fish and game habitat through weekend projects like building brush piles and removing invasive trees, installing fish spawning structures, hinge-cutting trees for deer and snowshoe hare, installing wood duck boxes, regenerating aspen stands, and planting a variety of trees for wildlife food and cover.
OTG focuses on projects which improve habitat for game species and sport fish on lands open to the public for hunting and fishing. Through this program, hunters, anglers and trappers have the opportunity to donate their time for the benefit of the species they pursue, showing the general public that we’re true conservationists, while seeing first-hand how their license dollars are put to use. At the same time, non-hunters and new hunters learn about wildlife habitat and the contributions made by hunters, anglers and trappers for conservation.
On the Ground is supported by a Wildlife Habitat Grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources along with Michigan's hunters, anglers, and trappers.
Upcoming OTG Events:
The 2016 season has come to and end for MUCC's Wildlife Habitat Program. Thank you to the 300 volunteers who helped to improve wildlife habitat on Michigan's public lands! Over the course of 20 wildlife habitat projects reaching all regions of the state, 300 volunteers put in 27,600 hours to improve almost 350acres of wildlife habitat on public land in 2016. Keep checking back for upcoming events for the 2017 season soon!
March 2017 St. Clair County
We will be building brush piles for rabbitat. (Date to be determined)
We will be partnering with Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Jason LaPointe on a large-scale service project that consists of removing concentrated areas of Scotch Pine from a Jack Pine Plantation near Tomahawk Floodwaters.
Partnering with Brandon Thomas from Boy Scout Troop 253 out of Vicksburg, MI to complete his Eagle Scout project, we will be planting trees to provide thermal cover for deer and small game in a wildlife opening.
April 21, 2017 Tuscola State Game Area
We will be teaming up with the Reese High School Out-of-Doors Club complete a wildlife habitat project in the area.
May 2017 Gourdneck State Game Area
We will be partnering with a local Girl Scout Troop to plant spruce trees in a wildlife opening to provide thermal cover.
May 2017 Grayling State Forest
We will be pruning apple trees in a large orchard withing the Grayling State Forest.
June 2017 Pigeon River Country State Forest
We will be joining the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to plant mast-producing trees for wildlife in the area such as elk, whitetailed deer, and black bear.
Completed OTG Events:
October 23, 2016 Sharonville State Game Area
We worked with the Jackson College JETS Baseball Team to build a tracker chair accessible, natural hunting blind near the Sharonville Barn Unit and built 5 large brush piles for rabbitat near the area using black locust trees cleared from the area.
December 10, 2016 Allegan State Game Area
We continued efforts to promote aspen regeneration near the Fennville Farm Unit. Over-mature Aspen trees were cut to allow sunlight through for young aspen growth and 6 large brush piles were built for rabbitat.
January 7 & 8, 2017 MUCC Chainsaw Safety Training
We hosted a chainsaw safety training, open to the public, and for volunteers that plan to attend future wildlife habitat improvement events. Topics covered involved why each sawyer must have a safety system, the elements of a good safety system, mental aspects of safety, safer chainsaw handling techniques, and the state-of-the-art safest way to fall a large diameter tree. There was also a second training offered on Sunday January 8th at the Rose Lake SGA to see a demonstration of proper tree felling techniques, as well as practice skills of bucking, felling cuts, and more.
January 14, 2017 Gourdneck State Game Area
Over 40 volunteers built 50 brush piles for rabbitat with Boy Scout Troop 253 out of Vicksburg, MI as one of the scouts' Eagle Scout project.
January 28, 2017 Grayling State Forest
A group of 16 volunteers continued efforts to restore snowshoe hare habitat in the Grayling State Forest by hinge-cutting over 350 conifer trees to provide horizontal cover.
February 19, 2017 Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area
A group of 18 volunteers, including members of the Midland-Dow High School Conservation Club, continued habitat work on a wildlife opening by clearing encroaching brush and timber and stacking it into brush piles on the fields edges.