U.P. organizations get DNR deer habitat improvement grants

Six Upper Peninsula conservation organizations will receive Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative (DHIPI) grants from the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division in 2013, DNR officials announced today.

The projects, totaling $50,000 of DHIPI grant money, will improve deer habitat in Alger, Dickinson, Iron, Mackinac, Menominee and Ontonagon counties.

The DHIPI grant program is designed to attract and support proposals from non-government organizations interested in improving white-tailed deer habitat in the Upper Peninsula. The competitive grant program, funded by the state’s Deer Range Improvement Fund (DRIP), requires the projects be located on non-state-owned land, including private property and Commercial Forest Act-enrolled land.

The following organizations will receive 2013 DHIPI grants:

  • The Dickinson Conservation District will receive $7,700 to plant crab apple and oak trees on 40 parcels of privately owned land in Dickinson, Iron and Menominee counties to improve hard and soft mast availability.
  • U.P. Whitetails, in partnership with The Forestland Group LLC., will receive $9,500 to plant conifers 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 400 acres in Alger County will receive 8-foot-tall saplings in a concerted effort to establish acorn-producing oak groves and enhance historic winter deer range.
  • Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County will receive $7,500 to partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to enhance wildlife openings on 10 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 disabled hunters using the group’s specially outfitted accessibility hunting trailer. 
  • The Ontonagon chapter of Whitetails Unlimited will receive $7,850 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.
  • Straits Area Sportsmen’s Club will receive $9,200 to plant 20 large red oak trees (each at least 15 feet tall) on U.S. Forest Service land in Mackinac County. These unique plantings are designed to introduce acorn-bearing trees onto the landscape where hard mast is deficient, and the advanced size of the trees means they can produce acorns within a few years and are above the deer browse line.
  • The Alger and Schoolcraft County chapters of U.P. Whitetails and the Alger County Fish and Game Alliance will receive $8,250 in partnership to enhance a 50-acre wildlife opening on private land. This area is immediately adjacent to the Petrel deer wintering complex and will benefit deer in the spring and fall as they move to winter habitat.

“All of these projects are prime examples of how communities of sportsmen can partner with the DNR to enhance deer habitat in their local area,” said DNR wildlife biologist Bill Scullon, who oversees the DHIPI program. “Not only are there the direct habitat benefits of the projects, but the partnerships that develop can provide the basis for many more community-based conservation efforts.”

“Habitat improvement projects like these give us the ability to test novel mechanisms, evaluate what works, and incorporate those successful efforts into the future planning for the broader landscape,” according to Natural Resources Commissioner John Madigan of Munising.

The six grant recipients were also congratulated by Natural Resources Commission Chairman J.R. Richardson of Ontonagon. “These habitat improvement projects bring real value back to the resource, and I have to thank the sporting groups and community partners for their dedication and involvement,” Richardson said.

For more information about the Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative 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.

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 to $2.8 million in funding annually. This restricted funding is for the enhancement, maintenance, and acquisition of deer habitat statewide.