The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Grants continue to facilitate deer habitat work


November 5, 2019


LANSING — Among the nearly $1 million in wildlife habitat grants the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced last week is funding for deer habitat work in the Upper Peninsula. A portion of those funds will go towards ongoing efforts to improve deer habitat in the western and central U.P.

A total of $996,900 in funding will be split between 11 conservation organizations, governmental units, landowners and non-profits around the state, according to the DNR's announcement. The money will be spent on projects that will be completed by Sept. 30, 2021.

One of the projects that successfully applied for a grant was a partnership between The Sustainable Resources Institute and Safari Club International's foundation.

The partnership received $138,600 for work in Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft counties.

“What we're focusing on is deer winter range, because we know that it has been pretty severely depleted over the years, and our goal is to refurbish it,” said Jim Hammill — a retired DNR employee and consultant for the project. “And a lot of that depletion has happened on private lands, so we're hoping to make it better on private lands primarily.”

The effort in Ontonagon County will focus on “break out areas.”

“So that deer have high-quality forage as soon as they break out of the (deer) yard in the spring time,” Hamill said, adding the work largely consists of planting herbaceous growth, such as clover or chicory.

Deer often winter in areas with less snow known as deer yards before moving into these break out areas with fresh food sources at the beginning of spring, Hammill explained.

The $138,600 will pay for projects starting next spring and running over the next three years, he said, with next year's work also funded by grants received two years ago.

He said there is also hope the project will expand its work in Ontonagon and Gogebic counties in the next year or so to work in the local deer yards themselves.

“We hope that as the years go on here, we're able to be successful at getting grants like this … and we would expand our work to the entire Upper Peninsula and focus on deer yards,” Hammill said.

The Copper Country Chapter of the American Woodcock Society, which was awarded a $16,400 grant, was among the 10 other organizations to receive funding.

“I am excited to see revenue from our hunting and fishing licenses being spent here in the U.P. to bolster our game population,” State Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock, said in a statement. “Like many of my fellow Yoopers, I spend a lot of money on licenses to hunt and fish in our beautiful peninsula. It is great to see the money come full circle.”

Markkanen represents the 110th District, which includes Gogebic, Ontonagon, Keweenaw and Baraga counties.

The wildlife habitat grant program started in 2013 and is funded through a portion of the revenue generated by the hunting and fishing licenses sold in the state each year. It is administered through the DNR's wildlife division and its grants management section.

“The program's main objective is to enhance and improve the quality and quantity of game species habitat in support of the DNR wildlife division's strategic plan,” a department spokesperson said in the announcement.


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