Dickinson deer habitat project focuses on pine trees

KINGSFORD — With the aid of a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant, the Dickinson Conservation District conducted a project with private landowners to improve winter deer cover.

It involved scarification to promote the natural regeneration of pine trees, said Bryan Reitter, the district’s private lands forester in Dickinson and Menominee counties.

“Scarification as site prep has been practiced for a long time to promote natural regeneration,” Reitter said. “But, most of the time it involves the use of large equipment covering large stands and is not practiced regularly on privately owned land.”

Through a DNR Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Grant, the district implemented scarification of small stands on privately owned land to improve deer wintering cover by naturally regenerating pine.

“Properties chosen to participate had to be within or in close proximity to a deer wintering complex identified by the DNR and have residual pine trees present,” Reitter said. “The scarification work was done with a small dozer and rock rake, which allowed the operator to be precise with the dozer while navigating between residual seed trees.”

Also, the smaller equipment was less expensive to move from site to site, allowing work on multiple properties.

In total, 51 acres was scarified to promote the natural regeneration of pine species across six privately owned properties. A supplemental planting of conifers occurred on each site, which got each landowner involved with the project.

“Their hard work made up about half of the almost $8,000 recorded as match for the grant,” Reitter said. “A big thank you to the landowners that participated, MDNR and everyone else who contributed to the project.”

For more information on forestry assistance or other conservation programs, contact Reitter at 906-774-1550. ext. 100.