SHINGLETON — While recent increases in Michigan’s license fees may make hunting a little more expensive, the money is helping to make positive improvements to state forests, including those in the Upper Peninsula.

The expanded revenue has helped the Department of Natural Resource’s Shingleton Management Unit to expedite and enhance its plans to help improve wildlife diversity in the central U.P. in 2014.

“As a result of the license fee package, we now have $300,000 in our annual budget this year that goes directly to habitat work,” said Kevin Swanson, a wildlife biologist with the DNR’s Wildlife Division. “We’ve done a lot of work in the past, but we’ve really ramped up this program as a result of that license fee package.”

One of the unit’s major undertakings has been to replace beech tree stands decimated by disease with red oak and other mast-bearing trees and shrubs. Over the last few years, the unit has planted around 17,000 saplings across Alger and Schoolcraft counties to help improve the diet of local wildlife in the long term.

“That provides a lot of lipids and proteins for a wide range of wildlife species, so it’s really important to try to replace some of that as we lose it and expand it in other areas,” Swanson added.

The Shingleton unit is also working to create and enhance forest openings in which deer can spend their summers foraging.