MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — State natural resources officials are combining revenue from an increase in hunting fees and the work of employees and volunteers across the Upper Peninsula to plant tens of thousands of trees that can improve the habitat for wildlife.
Staffers from the Wildlife Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources "were able to greatly ramp up tree and shrub planting efforts for the first time in years" because of an increase in the price of hunting licenses, the department said in a statement Friday. It said the key features include an $11 fee that funds "improvement of habitat and hunting opportunities."
"Our current planting projects are a legacy that we can leave for the next generation, but doing so couldn't happen without the support of Michigan's hunters," said department wildlife technician Bill Rollo. He said about 22,000 trees and shrubs are taking root across the Upper Peninsula this summer.
An important way to support wildlife like deer, bears, ruffed grouse, turkeys and songbirds is the promotion of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, the Department of Natural Resources said.
An example of how planted habitat can aid wildlife can be found on state forest land in southern Marquette County. That's where in 1983, department staff planted Siberian crabapple trees. Today, a grove of about 500 mature crabapple trees feeds a range or mammals and birds.
"While planning for this year's planting activities, I visited the Siberian crabapple stand after hearing about it from a DNR forester," said Rollo. "Seeing the success of these crabapples gave me an inspiring, tangible example of what we are accomplishing not just in the short term but in the long run."
In May and June, volunteers from the Ruffed Grouse Society and the On-the-Ground program — a partnership between the state and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs — planted about 150 trees and shrubs. They included a dozen plum trees, serviceberries and dogwood shrubs along a hunter walking trail in Marquette County, 85 red oaks in Alger County, and 50 oaks in Schoolcraft County.
"In coming years, we will continue to aggressively pursue opportunities to improve wildlife habitat using both license revenue and partnership opportunities with the many organizations that are interested in contributing time and energy to wildlife and habitat management in the U.P.," said Craig Albright, the Wildlife Division's Upper Peninsula field operations manager.