Wildlife Wednesday: OTG Goes Up North

This past weekend I got to reunite with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for an On the Ground event in the Gwinn State Forest. I made the most of the long weekend and filled it with visiting great northern people, a stop at Ore Dock Brewing Co for good beer accompanied by an incredible modern folk band, and a bonfire and music at my good friends camp on Little Shag Lake-conveniently located just a few minutes away from the event meeting location.
With it being a holiday weekend I was concerned, but still hopeful, about the volunteer turnout for this event. However, George Lindquist pulled through with his connections to the UP Whitetails Association of Marquette and Alger counties and we had a great turnout of volunteers eager to get their hands in the dirt on a Sunday morning! A total of 18 people planted 140 oak trees in a 35 acre stand of the Gwinn State Forest in South Marquette County.
In the mid 1990’s, UP Whitetails paid for an oak planting at this same site. Bill Rollo, the DNR Wildlife Technician for the area, stated that "Several decades later, I recall noting several oaks that successfully recruited and survived (most were 8 to 10 feet tall, a couple were over 20 feet tall)." To ensure even better regeneration this time, larger oak saplings were planted rather than the smaller seedlings more vulnerable to browse by wildlife. Volunteers planted two different oak species that are more resistant to oak wilt disease, such as burr oak and red oaks.

In this case, many hands made for light work, but I still felt good and tired after planting seven tall oak saplings at a steady pace. This particular location had good soils for digging; not too rocky and not too sandy. As always promised, lunch was provided by MUCC for our volunteers. We all enjoyed pizza from a local Gwinn Restaurant- Rodney's Pizzeria. Volunteers earned this great food after a great event with meaningful conversations and even some curiosity and admiration from others. Dirt-stained jeans and overwhelming amounts of deet tend to draw attention; even from da Yoopers.
This weekend proved to be another great example of Michigan hunters, fishers, and trappers uniting to support the conservation of wildlife; especially where it is needed most for the UP's whitetail deer herds! This is just one habitat improvement project of many that are making efforts to help the struggling deer herd in the Upper Peninsula. These volunteers are doing their part in conservation and there are more opportunities to keep up the fight. Join us with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation next weekend on Saturday, June 6th, to plant native hawthorns and oaks in the Pigeon River Country State Forest; sign up here to volunteer or check out mucc.org/ontheground to find a habitat event near you!

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  • commented 2015-08-11 14:21:43 -0400
    Yay for coming to my home area!