The Jackson College Baseball (Jets) team and NRC Commissioner Tim Nichols joined MUCC’s On the Ground project at Sharonville State Game Area on Sunday. This volunteer group worked hard to remove old barbed wire fencing and posts from the area which makes equipment access, hunter access, and vegetation conversion difficult. Kristin Bissell, the DNR Wildlife Biologist for the area, stated "the DNR has plans of working towards converting fields from cropland to nesting, brood rearing, and winter cover for pheasant."
As almost all of the wire fencing was buried under ground and wrapped in thick grasses and roots, it was a perfect project to have this group of 36 volunteers at. The Jets worked very well together and breezed through the first row of fencing. They showed great displays of both teamwork and determination; one group even worked well past lunch being ready to remove a stubborn post that must have been buried about five feet into the ground!
For some, this type of work was familiar, but it was new to some as well. I heard one of the volunteers say to his teammate "I've never been in the wilderness before this." I thought about the different perspectives of wilderness for a moment. I could hear geese calling as the flew over the fields, surely they were wild, then a group of the JC Jets surprised their teammates with a praying mantis they'd found on one of the fence posts they were removing. Although we were just a few hundred yards away from a paved road, we were still among wilderness in this location. One of my biggest passions is introducing new people to the wild and all that it offers, such as hunting, fishing, and camping.
The Jackson College baseball team also volunteered with OTG at Sharonville SGA last year, removing brush and shrubs from the shooting range area for clearer lanes. The Sharonville SGA offers a very nice shooting range, so of course I made a stop there after the event to test out the 3-D archery range. Bethy Williams joined me for this project, making it her third OTG event, and I was happy to also introduce her to archery. The 3D range had many game species targets you might find in Michigan: deer, bear, turkey, fox, coyote, all ranging from 10 yards to 30 yards. We started with the move-able bag targets to sight in at 10, 20, and 30 yards, then moved on to the buck target, both of us hit the vital zone on the first shot!
I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a beautiful fall Sunday. The next OTG events will be in early and mid December at Allegan State Game Area for an aspen regeneration project, then hinge-cutting for snowshoe hare in the Grayling State Forest. Make sure you RSVP here for an upcoming event and see our list of scheduled projects here. Thanks again to the JC Jets and Tim Nichols for helping out this weekend!