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Volunteers help improve wildlife habitat on northern Michigan public land

Spring is a great time for worker bees to get busy on public lands. Recently, volunteers of all ages pitched in for several events aimed at improving wildlife habitat on public land in locations across Michigan’ northern Lower Peninsula.

Benzie County

In Benzie County, near Thompsonville, fifth- and sixth-grade students at Grand Traverse Academy spent a few hours getting dirty using shovels and planting bars. Working with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs On the Ground Junior program and the Department of Natural Resources, students planted 91 trees while spending time outdoors learning about their local forest.

“The kids had a blast learning about the wildlife that will benefit from their hard work,” said MUCC wildlife volunteer coordinator Sarah Topp. “The Junior program gets school groups involved in wildlife habitat improvement while learning valuable lessons about the area with a hands-on experience they won’t forget. The second half of the day involves a fun activity; in this case, it was an archery lesson. Many students had never shot a bow and arrow before, and they walked away very happy that they had helped wildlife and learned something new.”

Gladwin County

In Gladwin County, students from Dow High School in Midland also spent a day planting apple trees and then building wire cages to protect the plants. In an effort that also included local DNR staff, AmeriCorps, the Ruffed Grouse Society – North Central Michigan Chapter and other volunteers, the group planted 75 apple trees.

‘We’ve been lucky to have students from Dow High School return annually to help with this planting,’ said DNR wildlife biologist Bruce Barlow. ‘It’ a great sense of accomplishment for everyone to work together hauling trees, bags of soil and fence material and return again in the future knowing the trees are there because of us.’

Lake County

In Lake County, a group of workers that included members of the local DNR staff and the Ruffed Grouse Society – Grand Rapids Chapter spent a Saturday planting a variety of trees that will help wildlife in the future. The group planted 50 crabapple trees, 70 black chokeberry trees and 30 chokecherry trees.

‘We had a lot of helping hands, and perfect weather,’ said DNR wildlife technician Angela Herban. ‘This allowed us to get 150 good-size saplings in the ground, which will be great food and cover for wildlife. And, although it can be hard work, many volunteers are already making plans to help with future projects.’

< >Those interested in helping build wildlife habitat or groups that would like to volunteer time building habitat on public lands can learn more about the MUCC’ On the Ground programs< > and about ways to improve wildlife habitat on your property< >.

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