The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded a total of $100,000 in deer habitat improvement grant funding to a dozen groups for projects in the Upper Peninsula.
“I think we have a good crop of projects this year, and some new partnership and project opportunities,” said Bill Scullon, DNR wildlife field operations manager and administrator for the grant initiative. “These projects will allow us to continue making deer habitat improvements on private lands, which is an important component of our Upper Peninsula deer management strategy.”
Scullon said the total amount of grant funding available is $100,000. The maximum amount of individual grants is $15,000, and the minimum is $2,000.
The Iron-Baraga Conservation District was awarded $15,000 to focus on habitat improvement within deer wintering areas by planting a total of 525 oaks, 3,850 white pines, 1,550 wildlife shrubs, 255 apples, and provide 780 tree protectors to participating landowners.
Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Conservation District received $10,900 as well for habitat improvements in developing a project on hard and soft mast plantings such as red oaks and apple trees in rural and camp settings
The Straits Area Sportsmen’s Club has been approved for $15,000 to partner with the U.S. Forest Service’s Hiawatha National Forest to brush approximately 30 acres of small opening habitats on Forest Service lands in Mackinac County. The brushing will remove encroaching woody vegetation so natural grasses and forbs can thrive. Plans also include planting multiple 8- to 10-foot-tall red oaks with protective fencing.
The Marquette County Conservation District has been awarded a $9,500 to improve winter habitat in U.P. critical deer wintering areas. Professional tree planting crews will plant a variety of native conifer species, including hemlock, white pine and white spruce to address thermal cover needs.
The DNR has provided a grant of $11,200 to U.P. Whitetails and Shawn Cannon Forestry to enhance summer and spring break conditions for deer. The project will include three different sites totaling 14.8 acres in Delta and Schoolcraft Counties. Two project sites will be bulldozed with a rack, then disc, seeded, and fertilized. The third project site will only need disking, seeding and fertilizing. The project will be implemented/seeded with a wildlife mixture consisting of oats, white ladino clover, red clover, alfalfa and chicory.
Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County has received $4,595 for their project which will maintain 10 food plots and hunter walking trails totaling 21.9 acres. The plots and trails were established with previous Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative grants and as part of the DNR’s Gold Mine Grouse Enhanced Management Site.
The Gogebic Conservation District has been approved for $2,585 towards their project to maintain forest openings and walking trails within the Devils Creek-Chaney Lake deer wintering areas.
The DNR has awarded $6,800 to the Alger Conservation District. They plan to pursue a planting strategy which will help establish summer, fall, and winter forage through strategically placed wildlife openings and escape cover as well as improved winter habitat on approximately 20 acres of land open to the public.
Schoolcraft Conservation District received $10,566 for work on seven projects sites on Weyerhaeuser Commercial Forest Act lands to establish small wildlife food plots totaling about 8.09 acres.
Whitetails Unlimited of Ontonagon County was approved for $6,915 to refresh and plant a 10-acre portion of a fallowed agriculture field owned by a private landowner.
The DNR has awarded a $3,300 grant to the Keweenaw Land Trust to improve habitat within
the recently established Abbaye Peninsula Grouse Enhanced Management Site.
The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative is a competitive grant program designed to enhance deer habitat on non-state lands in the Upper Peninsula.
A 25 percent match is required for the projects, which allows the DNR to reach beyond the original grant investment to accomplish more important habitat work. The total match for this year’s projects was $62,123.
Groups eligible for these grants include organizations with a formal mission to promote wildlife conservation and/or hunting, such as sportsmen’s clubs, conservation districts, land conservancies, industrial landowners with more than 10,000 acres, or private land affiliations where two or more unrelated persons jointly own 400 or more acres.
Primary goals for each of the projects include producing practical deer habitat improvements, building long-term partnerships between the DNR and outside organizations, and showcasing the project benefits to the public.
Now in its 11th year, the initiative is supported by the state’s Deer Range Improvement Program, which is funded by a portion of deer hunting license revenue.
“With this latest round of grant awards, we have funded 95 projects over the past decade,” Scullon said. “The total match dollars generated by those projects exceeds half a million dollars.”