by Anna Mitterling, MUCC Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator
What a ride it has been! I am not sure if I am even fully back on track after being on maternity leave for two months. Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives is booming right now. In just over two weeks I have helped kick off three deer cooperatives, with two more new cooperatives launching this month. Since January, a new pheasant cooperative has launched as well. In addition, I worked with the Farm Bill Biologists to conduct a habitat workshop series around southern Michigan, and the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council to put on a Landowner Burn Workshop. I have attended some PF and QDMA banquets, several cooperative meetings, and am in the middle of helping to plan the Spring Pheasant Rendezvous! To say this program is needed in Michigan -- would be an understatement!
Shortly after my return, the Farm Bill Biologists and I pulled off seven Mid-Contract Management workshops reaching nearly 150 landowners. Attendees were provided with information on wildlife cooperatives - how to start one and what the benefits are to collaborative habitat and wildlife management.
Some primary benefits include greater access to resources and discounts when acting as a group, sharing resources (knowledge, equipment, etc) within the group, and the camaraderie created when talking and working together.
The local Farm Bill Biologists (David Ferris pictured to the left) discussed the management funding opportunities available for CRP landowners to conduct mid contract management on their grasslands - like prescribed fire.
To the right, I am with Nate and Ryan, the cooperative leaders for Crockery Creek Cooperative, north of Grand Rapids. As new cooperative leaders, they have been working really hard on growing their cooperative, building relationships, and gaining knowledge. This meeting was their second "formal" cooperative meeting. They have had several smaller meetings in their neighborhood, but use this larger meeting to reach out, draw more interest, and provide and opportunity to share ideas, information, concerns, etc. They also provided Connor with one of his first onesies. The back says, "Survey this Scat." They are a funny bunch, obviously Connor doesn't get the humor yet.
To the left here we have the group who attended the first Prescribed Burn Workshop for Landowners put on by Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives and the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council. We had a great turn out, incredible speakers, and really good food... (my favorite pizza/grinder joint delivered). The purpose of this event was to provide an overview of what goes in to a burn plan, what the benefits of well managed grasslands are, and why we want grasslands here in Michigan. There seems to be additional interest for another workshop like this in the future, so stay tuned. Possibly next winter we can have another one.