NMU Student Represents BHA on Collaborative Project to Improve Grouse Habitat

This summer, Northern Michigan University student Michael, participated in the Collegiate Program's first stipend-based stewardship project opportunity. Stipends were offered to students to complete stewardship projects on their local public lands and waters. This is the result of Michael's project as he represented BHA on a collaborative project to improve grouse habitat in the Upper Peninsula. 

At the end of August, I had the opportunity to participate in an exciting multi-organization stewardship project right in the heart of the Garden Peninsula in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula. 

This collaborative effort brought together several organizations, including Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Northern Michigan University, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and The Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society. Representing Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the project that I was involved with aimed to restore habitat on state land under the supervision of the Michigan United Conservation Corps (MUCC) and the DNR Wildlife Division based out of the Cusino/Shingleton DNR office.

Our overall objective for this project was to rejuvenate forest openings on state land by introducing a combination of mast-producing trees and shrubs. These carefully chosen plants would serve as a vital food source for migrating white-tailed deer as well as various upland game birds that call this area home. Heather Shaw, former Michigan BHA board member, and current DNR Wildlife Biologist at the Cusino/Shingleton DNR Office states that “These openings are particularly important for the brood rearing habitat for of upland game birds including grouse and turkeys, as they provide dense cover and abundant protein-rich food sources as insect abundance offers a protein-rich food source for developing chicks”. She also states that “The Garden Peninsula is very important to migrating white-tailed deer, which use the Garden deer wintering complex yard to survive harsh U.P. winters while hunkering down in the thick cedar stands along the lakeshore. The openings that we planted the hard and soft mast trees and shrubs around are also critical for deer breaking out of the winter deer yards in spring in search of protein-rich food sources found in the forbs and legumes as well as the soft mast and acorns that were just planted”. 

The restoration and conservation of this public land holds great significance, not only for the local wildlife but also for the broader ecosystem and its long-term health. My participation in this stewardship project was a fulfilling experience, as it allowed me to contribute to the preservation and enhancement of the Garden Peninsula's unique environment. I’m grateful to have been able to volunteer my time to improve this forest ecosystem, knowing that it will benefit local wildlife as well as future generations of hunters who will get to enjoy it.

Red Oak (Quercus rubra) Installing a tree guard for a freshly planted Mountain Ash tree Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)


About Michael Foley