Volunteers and DNR grants help improve wildlife habitat


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RGS in the News


Michigan DNR Press Release

June 10, 2015

Contact: Katie Keen, 231-775-9727


With schedules full and vacations planned, summer is around the corner, but many still are finding a few hours to work together to make a difference for wildlife and those who enjoy it.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, a group gathered in the Upper Peninsula, in south Marquette County, to improve wildlife habitat. A Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Grant enabled Michigan United Conservation Clubs to provide assistance and coordination for the event.

“Thanks to the many volunteers, and those that did all the legwork ahead of time,” said MUCC Vice President George Lindquist. “Nice job to all, and on a holiday weekend, no less.”

On public land near Arnold, Michigan, 18 volunteers from U.P. Whitetails and MUCC planted 140 oak trees – not just oak seedlings, but 10-foot red and burr oak trees to ensure better survival and a faster timeline for acorn production. In just two hours, this group was able to provide additional, valuable food sources for the future, in an area where countless wildlife will benefit.

Cheboygan work day
Cheboygan Work Day on Lee Grande Ranch GEMS

Left to right are Eric Ellis, Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society regional wildlife biologist and grant writer;
Jim Gillespie, RGS member; Perry Smeltzer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist;
Erik Thorp, RGS member; and Dennis Gepfrey, Camille Gepfrey and Tim Pifher,
members of the Safari Club International Flint Chapter.

Below the bridge in Cheboygan County, volunteers worked on public land at the Lee Grande GEMS (Grouse Enhanced Management Sites). The Ruffed Grouse Society and the American Woodcock Society also received a DNR Wildlife Habitat Grant to purchase and plant trees for projects like this. Additional partners from the Flint Chapter of Safari Club International and the Natural Resources Conservation Service district office in Alpena also assisted on this project. 

Thirty crabapple trees were planted, with protective fencing placed around them to allow the trees to establish without being browsed by wildlife. Hard mast, like acorns or nuts, is a great food source, although soft mast like crabapples can retain their fruit longer and, in some cases, through the winter on the stem. Keeping the fruits available for wildlife in northern Michigan, when the snow gets deep, is something that benefits ruffed grouse and wild turkeys.

Current Wildlife Habitat Grant cycle: Apply by July 10

The application period currently is open for the Wildlife Habitat Grant program's third straight year. The grant program provides funding to local, state, federal and tribal units of government, for-profit and nonprofit groups, and individuals to assist the DNR Wildlife Division with developing or improving wildlife habitat for game species. Proposal applications still can be submitted, but are due by close of business July 10.

Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants for more information.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection,
management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and
future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.


Mission Statement

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America's foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

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