Of Michigan’s various state game areas I have been able to visit and improve habitat on with volunteers, Allegan State Game Area has stood out to me as a unique piece of public land. The Michigan DNR created the Allegan SGA in 1964 by combining the Allegan State Forest, the Swan Creek Wildlife Experiment Station, and the Fennville State Game Area. Comprised of 50,000 acres, the game area is located in the oak and pine dominated sandy lake plain ecosystem of west-central Allegan County between Allegan and Fennville, about 10 miles east of Lake Michigan.
The area has some unique habitat types. Boy Scout troop 147 of Allegan volunteered to help restore a coastal plain marsh for an MUCC project with DNR staff in September. This unique area is filled with native plants and grasses; one of those grasses is only located in a few areas between here and the Atlantic Coast, the closest being in Pennsylvania. The annual waterfowl migration through this particular area plays a huge role in the spread of vegetation seeds, including invasives. Fortunately, this area does not appear to have any invasive vegetation established; a rare find!
The uniqueness of this area is not limited to its habitat types, but also its history. “The Department of Natural Resources reintroduced wild turkeys into the state in 1954 on the Allegan State Game Area. In November of 1965, after establishment of a stable flock, the first modern day Michigan season for wild turkeys was held. Hunting for turkeys now takes place each year.” Thank you Allegan SGA for our Spring and Fall turkey hunts!
- There are plenty of other fish and game species at Allegan SGA; providing a variety of hunting and angling opportunites. Waterfowl hunters have an opportunity to hunt geese at the Fennville Farm Unit, three miles south of Fennville. Waterfowl hunting is also available in the Bravo Unit, the Highbanks Unit, the Ottawa and Koopman Marshes, along the Kalamazoo River, and along Swan and Bear creeks.
- The small game season offers pheasant, rabbit, and woodcock hunting at the Farm Unit and ruffed grouse, squirrel, and woodcock hunting on the remainder of the Game Area. Deer may be taken during the southern Michigan firearm, muzzleloading, and archery seasons. Raccoons are abundant throughout the lowland forest.
Also unique to Allegan SGA is the mass concentration of Canada geese that assemble there in the fall. More than 100,000 geese will pass through the area and as many as 40,000 may be seen at one time. “Best viewing is in the Fennville Farm Unit on the southwestern boundary of the property. The Fennville Unit includes a refuge where no visitor access is allowed, but viewing from the road is excellent.”
Speaking of the Fennville Farm Unit, On the Ground completed an aspen regeneration project there last December. This project was organized with DNR Biologist Mark Mills, Levi Bross and his Boy Scout Troop 147 among other volunteers. Over the seasons, good results have been seen from the sunlight getting through to the newly exposed areas by removing larger trees. We will be hosting another aspen regeneration event on Sunday, December 6, 2015 at the same location to expand the young aspen growth! See more details and RSVP here to volunteer and give back to this unique public land area.