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 1,600 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 350 acres of wildlife habitat on public land in 2016. Keep checking back for upcoming events for the 2017 season soon!
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.
March 4, 2017 Fulton State Game Area
A group of 13 volunteers built 10 new brush piles for rabbitat in the North end of the Fulton SGA.
March 25, 2017 Barry-Middleville State Game Area
A group of 20 volunteers planted 800 crab-apple trees in the area to provide browse for wildlife.
March 29, 2017 Tomahawk Floodwaters-Atlanta
Partnered with Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Jason LaPointe, a group of 9 volunteers removed concentrated areas of Scotch Pine from a 20 acre Jack Pine plantation.
April 1, 2017 Macomb-Chesterfield Mini State Game Area
A Group of 6 volunteers built 12 brush piles for rabbitat in the Chesterfield Mini State Game Area.
April 13, 2017 Fish Pointe State Wildlife Area (OTG Jr)
We teamed up with 16 members of the Reese High School Out-of-Doors Club to maintain and place new wood duck boxes in the area.
April 15, 2017 Gourdneck State Game Area
A total of 42 volunteers with Brandon Thomas from Boy Scout Troop 253 out of Vicksburg, MI to planted 1,100 trees to complete his Eagle Scout project. The trees planted by this group of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will provide thermal cover for deer and small game in a wildlife opening.
April 19, 2017 Betsie GEMS Area (OTG Jr)
We teamed up with 16 members of the Grand Traverse Academy 5th & 6th Grade to plant a total of 93 trees for wildlife in the area.
April 22, 2017 Crane Pond State Game Area
A group of 6 volunteers contributed to Earth Day by planting 600 mast-producing trees and shrubs in the area to provide browse for wildlife.
May 6, 2017 Gwinn State Forest
A group of 20 volunteers planted 130 crab-apple and other apple tree varieties in the Gwinn State Forest in the Southern part of Marquette County to provide browse for wildlife.
May 12, 2017 Bay City State Recreation Area (OTG Jr)
We teamed up with 16 members of the Cramer Jr High Community Service Club to remove invasive species from the area including 30 trash bags of garlic mustard, glossy buckthorn, rose bush, autumn olive, and Japanese knotweed.
May 20, 2017 Grayling State Forest
A group of 9 volunteers pruned dead branches from ~150 apple trees in a large orchard within the Grayling State Forest.
June 3, 2017 Pigeon River Country State Forest
We partnered with 15 volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to remove debris and completed the first phase of restoring a site for wildlife in the area such as elk, whitetail deer, and black bear.
June 16, 2017 Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area (MUCC Annual Convention)
A group of 14 volunteers, including MUCC Staff, built 5 large brush piles to kick-off MUCC's 80th Annual Convention with a rabbitat project Gratiot-Saginaw SGA.
July 8, 2017 Manistee River Clean-Up
A total of 63 volunteers participated in the 3rd Annual Manistee River Clean-up to improve fish habitat and spawning areas. We partnered with Roger Hinchcliff of Steelhead Manifesto and the Metro West Steelheaders for this event and every volunteer earned some very generous prizes as donations from local companies like Lamigals, Smith Optics, Hank & Sons Tackle, D-Loop Outfitters, Auto Value, Voodoo, Raven Tackle, Lick'em Lures, and many more!
July 15, 2017 Clinton River Clean-Up
A group of 20 volunteers partnered with the Metro West Steelheaders for the fourth year to clean up a popular stretch of the Clinton River and removed ~200lbs of trash and debris!
August 17, 2017
A group of 9 Lansing area teachers built four large brush piles in the Rose Lake SGA using invasive Black Locust trees. This event was part of thier GRAND Learning Network Orientation.
August 25, 2017 Pigeon River Country State Forest
A group of 12 volunteers joined the NCCC Maple 5 crew to remove remaining timber left from a controlled burn at Inspiration Point. Herbicide was applied to the stumps after the small trees and shrubs were cut.
August 26, 2017 Alger County-Melstrand
A total of 23 volunteers planted 300 trees and shrubs to provide wildlife browse and cover in the Melstrand GEMS area. Trees were donated by Alger County UP Whitetails; varieties included red oak, red ozier dogwood, high-bush cranberry, and American hazelnut.