I truly cannot brag, boast, or promote enough how great our volunteers are with MUCC’s On the Ground program. It provides a prime example of a well-balanced relationship between outdoorsmen/women and the conservation of public lands where they hunt, fish, and trap. These are people that get up before the sun peaks over the horizon, lace up their sturdy work boots, pour their hot coffee in a travel mug and hit the road to meet with other dedicated folks from various regions of the state to spend a day making an impact that will last.
Returning volunteer Steve Waksmundzki is a perfect example of striving for true hunter ethic by dedicating his Saturday to rabbitat. He could have been running his dogs elsewhere for rabbits, but he chose to give back to his Michigan public lands instead. He has put in many hours volunteering for wildlife already! Steve attended the Crane Pond annual youth rabbit hunt and also helped build rabbitat with OTG at the Fulton State Game Area both in March.
Five other people showed their dedication to public lands by volunteering on Saturday as well. David VanLopik of the Kalamazoo Rod & Gun Club, Larry Dame, Phil Gzym, and Mark VanBogelen all helped to complete another great OTG project. The eight of us split up into three small crews and in just a few hours we built 5 large brush-piles; focusing on quality rather than quantity. The larger brush piles will provide cover for many seasons even as they condense and break down.
Dean Boerman, the DNR Wildlife Assistant for the area, spent time in the field marking locations that would benefit from removing invasive trees such as autumn olive. The trees were then used to build the large brush piles and also create an opening for sunlight to get through the forest edge. This technique created the ideal places to plant 4 crab-apple trees. Volunteers also planted 25 hazelnut seedlings provided by the DNR; this project site was a previous OTG project location where volunteers planted 1200 spruce trees in 2014! What better way is there to give back to the area than to replace the invasive trees we are cutting down with mast producing trees for wildlife?
Speaking of planting trees; you can join us for our next OTG event in the Escanaba State Forest on Saturday, May 9th, at 9AM to plant crab apple trees for the UP deer. Sign up here to volunteer! Can't make that one? We'll be planting more trees in Marquette county on Sunday, May 24th. Don't miss out on another opportunity to give back to your public lands and volunteer for wildlife!