This weekend was a perfect one to get out in the woods and volunteer for wildlife! That’s exactly what Eagle Scout Levi Bross and his Boy Scout troop did at Allegan State Game area on Saturday. The troop, accompanied by a handful of volunteers and DNR staff, spent the day clearing encroaching timber from a coastal plain marsh. Volunteers cut and limbed large maple trees that had become established on the edges of this coastal plain marsh and stacked them into brush-piles on the surrounding upland area.
Headlights of passing traffic illuminated the horizon as I started the drive west across Michigan to the project site. Sunlight replaced LED’s by the time I got to the site and stepped out of the car to a cool 55 degree morning; perfect for the work to come. I heard shotguns firing in the distance; the sound of successful small game hunters! I was a little envious for a moment, but decided that I was more excited to greet the group of volunteers who were also sacrificing an opportunity to hunt to make a long lasting impact on wildlife habitat.
Jesse Lincoln and Maria Albright, DNR wildlife technician for the area, arrived shortly after I did. Jesse is beginning a project on rare ecosystem management in the Allegan SGA that will benefit habitats just like this coastal plain marsh. Eager to see the site without 3 feet of snow covering it, we took a walk back to the marsh. I heard the buzzing of a chainsaw as we got closer to the site; DNR wildlife technician Keith Kluting had already begun felling some of the larger hazard trees. Keith volunteered his time on Saturday just because he wanted to--this is why people in the field of conservation and natural resources do what we do for a living; we love it!
Among a few other places in the Allegan SGA, this area is rather unique. It is one of very few places that does not appear to have any invasive plants established. It also has some unique plant species that are not local, but are established along the Atlantic Coast! This is possible due to bird and waterfowl migration. Opening up this coastal plain marsh will improve waterfowl habitat during their essential migration patterns throughout the seasons. The edges of the marsh were expanded a good amount in just this one workday by our hard-working volunteers; bee stings and all!
I will be happy to visit the Allegan SGA again this December for an Aspen regeneration workday--you can keep up with our event schedule here. In the meantime, on Sunday, October 11th volunteer for pheasant habitat restoration with us at Sharonville State Wildlife Management Area. We will be removing fencing to help prepare a site for planting of native grasses to improve pheasant habitat. Also, I wish the best of luck to all of you who are taking on the archery season starting tomorrow! Don’t forget to share your luck by posting your venison photo and tag AND “like” @Deer Michigan on Facebook or follow on Instagram for a chance to win the 2015 Deer Michigan Venison Pole.