DNR announces $100,000 in UP deer habitat improvement grants

Twelve projects across the Upper Peninsula, including three in Iron County, will benefit from Michigan’s Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative. (Michigan Department of Natural Resources photo)

MARQUETTE – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded a total of $100,000 in deer habitat improvement grant funding to 12 entities for projects in the Upper Peninsula.

The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative is a competitive grant program designed to enhance deer habitat on non-state lands in the Upper Peninsula.

“These grants will produce positive impacts on 844 acres in Menominee, Marquette, Alger, Gogebic, Iron, Baraga, Ontonagon, Gogebic, Schoolcraft, and Mackinac counties,” said Bill Scullon, DNR field operations manager and administrator for the grant initiative. “The planned match for the 12 grants is valued in excess of $123,930 — well in excess of the required 25% — further expanding the impact of the projects.”

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 tangible deer habitat improvements, building long-term partnerships between the DNR and outside organizations and showcasing the project benefits to the public.

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.

Now in its 13th 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 year’s crop of projects, we will have made available $750,000 to U.P. partners for 95 projects to improve deer habitat. The value in partner match over the years has exceeded half a million dollars,” Scullon said. “The reach of the program has been to hundreds of landowners, over several thousand acres, involving all of the U.P.’s 15 counties.”

Availability of the grants was announced in January, with a March 13 deadline to apply. There was a total of 16 applicants in this year’s grant cycle. Awardees were notified by April 1.

For more information on the grant program, contact Bill Scullon at 906-250-6781 or scullonh@michigan.gov.

Iron County projects include:

Iron-Baraga Conservation District

The Iron-Baraga Conservation District has been awarded $13,500 to partner with multiple landowners in Iron and Baraga counties. Specific participating landowners/parcels will be determined through a selection process and identified at later date.

The intent is to enhance deer wintering habitat across KBIC tribal and private lands in Iron and Baraga counties. The grant will provide seedlings and trees to landowners at a significantly reduced cost. This grant proposal would allow landowners to immediately implement habitat improvements. IBCD plans to have five planting project types in which landowners can buy shares or allotments of seedlings. The proposal will utilize the planting of fruit trees, wildlife bushes and oaks as sources of hard and soft mast. Additionally, a wide variety of conifer species will be utilized to create cover habitat.

Eligible landowners need to have 20 acres minimum and are preferred to be located within a deer wintering complex. Landowners can mix and purchase more than one share. The first planting type is with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community on tribal lands planting a wide variety of hardwoods, mast species, and conifers on 31 acres in a stand previously harvested for spruce budworm die-back.

The second type will be in partnership with Iron and Baraga school districts. Students will assist in plantings utilizing conifers, fruit bearing trees, and wildlife shrubs on school forest lands.

The remaining planting types are available to the eligible private landowners. The third type will involve a small-scale hard mast planting option with up to 10 shares available for private landowners to purchase. Each share they will receive 50 oak saplings and tree protectors.

The fourth planting type will provide 50 wildlife shrubs seedlings as browse habitat. Up to 10 shares will be available to landowners.

The fifth type is a wildlife fruit tree planting with up to 20 landowners shares available for purchase, each share will receive 10 apple trees with protectors.

IBCD proposes a match of $12,606.00 (48%) for a total project valued at $26,106.00.

Ruffed Grouse Society/Lyme Timber Company, Gold Mine GEMS Hunter Walking Trails Improvement.

The Ruffed Grouse Society has been awarded a grant of $7,800 for a hunter walking habitat enhancement project in Iron County on property owned by Lyme Great Lakes Timberlands.

This project will include the maintenance and restoration of existing logging roads and hunter walking trails in Iron County. There are two management units within this project: The first is the Gold Mine GEMS, which includes 890 acres of huntable land and 2.5 miles of restored skid trails which now function as hunter walking trails. Proposed work at the Gold Mine GEMS will include the restoration of 2.5 miles of hunter walking trails within 540 acres.

The second management unit is the Bates-Amasa complex in Iron County, where a mile of hunter walking trail will be re-established among 156 acres.

There are two 1-acre openings. The two wildlife openings will also be restored.

Each of the proposed trails and openings have not been maintained for several years. Both trail restoration projects will include utilizing a brush hog or skid loader with a forest mulching head used to manipulate suckering aspen and other encroaching woody vegetation that is taking root along the trail. Each trail and wildlife openings will then undergo site prep, fertilization and reseeding of trails to rye. The wildlife opening restoration will require site preparation, herbicide will be applied followed by site prep/tilling, then fertilization and cultivation to rye in summer.

In August/September the trails and wildlife openings will then be seeded again to a buckwheat and red clover mix. A secondary seeding in one year will not only jump-start nutrient loading and hasten the restoration of these areas while creating a great opportunity to seed to clover. These actions are intended to provide a high-quality food source for wildlife. This work will be completed by a local contractor, contracts will be overseen by RGS as fiduciary and Lyme staff will also assist in project oversight and management.

RGS proposes a match of $4,780 (61%) and a total project valued at $12,581.

Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County

WUIC has been approved $2,900 for a project to perform maintenance actions on wildlife openings used in WUIC’s mentored youth hunting program in Iron County totaling 32 acres.

The intent of this project with the WUIC is to perform maintenance operations on a series of private and wildlife openings originally established through previous DHIPI grants. These openings are used a focal location’s for WUIC’s youth and veterans mentored hunting program.

The openings need a variety of maintenance operations ranging from reworking, tilling, and replanting older wildlife plantings to clover and grass mixes, and addressing additional previous habitat enhancements through replacing dead and damaged planted soft mast fruit trees and protective fencings.

WUIC is proposing a match of $5,800 (66%) and a total project valued at $8,700.


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