DNR grants $65,000 to U.P. for deer habitat improvement

MARQUETTE – A total of nearly $65,000 has been awarded in deer habitat improvement grants to nine Upper Peninsula conservation organizations by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.

DNR officials said the grant program is designed to attract and support proposals from non-government organizations and citizen groups interested in improving white-tailed deer habitat in the U.P.

“These groups recognize the importance of habitat improvement projects and partnering with the department to accomplish mutual wildlife goals,” said Michigan Natural Resources Commissioner J.R. Richardson of Ontonagon. “I look forward to seeing the results of their hard work.”

DNR officials said the Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative grants are funded by the state’s Deer Range Improvement Fund. Projects are required to be located on land not managed by the state, including private property and land enrolled under the Commercial Forest Act.

Created by legislation in 1971, the DRIP fund is supported by a $1.50 allocation from each deer license sold (except for senior licenses), which equals $2.2 million to $2.8 million in annual funding. This restricted funding is for the enhancement, maintenance and acquisition of deer habitat statewide.

The projects funded this year will be located in Marquette, Alger, Dickinson, Chippewa, Iron, Mackinac, Menominee and Ontonagon counties.

DNR officials provided a list of grant recipients and descriptions of the projects being funded:

– The Marquette County Conservation District will receive $6,410 to plant crabapple and oak trees on more than 35 parcels of privately owned land in Marquette County.

– The Alger County Chapter of U.P. Whitetails will receive $1,600 to partner with a private landowner to plant 1,000 red oak seedlings in an area heavily affected by beech bark disease.

– The Grand Marias Sportsmen’s Club and the Alger Conservation District will receive $4,800 to plant oak, crabapples, hemlocks and wildlife shrubs on nine private land parcels in northeast Alger County to improve summer range conditions and forage diversity.

– U.P. Whitetails, in partnership with The Forestland Group LLC, will receive $10,000 to plant 15,000 mesic conifers in Alger County winter deer range and advanced oak saplings on Heartwood Forestland Fund IV property where hard mast-producing beech trees have been lost due to beech bark disease. Approximately 150 acres in Alger County will receive 1,500 8-foot-tall saplings in a concerted effort to establish acorn-producing oak groves and enhance summer deer range.

– The Dickinson Conservation District will receive $9,250 to plant crabapples and oak trees on more than 40 parcels of privately owned land in Dickinson, Iron and Menominee counties, improving the availability of hard and soft mast food sources.

– Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County will receive $7,500 to partner with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service to enhance wildlife openings on 12 sites with native prairie and cool season plantings. This project partners deer habitat improvement with Wildlife Unlimited’s youth hunter recruitment program. It also provides new opportunities for hunters with disabilities, using the group’s specially outfitted accessibility hunting trailer.

– The Ontonagon chapter of Whitetails Unlimited will receive $7,710 to create a 10-acre wildlife opening project adjacent to a deer wintering complex. This project is intended to provide nutritious wildlife forage to deer during the snow-free months, especially the critical weeks in the spring and fall as deer migrate to and from winter habitat.

– The Drummond Island Sportsmen’s Club and Stoney Creek Timber LLC will receive $10,000 to transplant 50 2.5-inch diameter red oak and crabapple trees to private lands directly adjacent to public lands on Drummond Island in Chippewa County. The project is designed to introduce acorn and soft mast-bearing trees where mast food sources are deficient. The advanced size of the trees means they can be productive mast producers within a few years and are above the deer browse line, which is important since they are being planted in an active deer wintering complex.

– A landowner on Drummond Island in Chippewa County will receive $7,500 to plant advanced-size oak saplings and 750 wildlife shrubs on a large, private land holding adjacent to public lands. The project is designed to improve forage availability within a deer wintering complex.

For more information about the initiative grant program or the DRIP Fund, contact Bill Scullon at 906-563-9247. More information about deer management in Michigan can be found online at www.michigan.gov/deer.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.