On May 3, over 30 volunteers joined Huron Pines, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Kirtland's Warbler Alliance, the Department of Natural Resources and Gates AuSable Lodge to plant 1400 jack pine trees for wildlife habitat.
Kirtland's warblers are currently on the Endangered Species List (ESL), and they nest almost exclusively in the jack pine forests of northern Michigan. Considered a conservation success story, wildlife officials are planning for their sustained recovery after they are removed from the ESL. They are very dependent on active habitat management and cowbird trapping (cowbirds hijack their nests).
Historically, jack pine forests would burn through wildfires, which open up cones to allow new jack pines to take root. Now, that succession of jack pines is managed through active timber harvest and clearcutting, then replanting. When the jack pines are young, they also provide thermal cover for deer and other game species, and deer will even use them as browse in tough years, though it's not necessarily a preferred food.
The event was organized by Huron Pines, and lunch was provided by Gates AuSable Lodge. It was also part of MUCC's 'On the Ground' partnership with the DNR, so volunteers also received free t-shirts and a digital subscription to Michigan OutofDoors Magazine.
The next On the Ground project is a two-day red oak planting in the U.P. on May 31 and June 1 to provide food for deer, bear and other game species in the coming decades. Volunteers can sign up for either day or both at this link: https://mucc.org/event/otg-planting-red-oak-tress/
On the Ground (OTG) is a partnership between Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to build a conservation community through volunteer fish and wildlife habitat projects.
OTG won Outdoor Life’s Open Country award in 2014 and is funded by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, Consumers Energy Foundation, Enbridge Energy Partners, Healing Our Waters, and the Community Reinvestment Fund, which is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Sustainable Communities program to the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission as part of the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability and is administered by the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council.