Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Team Effort Leads to Improved Michigan Elk Country

Pigeon River Country State Forest
There is strength in numbers and elk and elk habitat are the big winners in Michigan because of it. Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently teamed up with the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC) to help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) form a volunteer force of 45 strong who planted about 800 native trees in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

“This particular project is our second one with MUCC. It’s very exciting to partner up with them. It’s a great time to be out here,” said Dan Johnson, RMEF Michigan state chair.

“This is a great partnership. We worked with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in the past. They supported our initiative to support hunting rights in Michigan from out-of-state anti-hunters and they do a ton of work here for elk in the Pigeon River country, for public land throughout Michigan and habitat throughout the state,” said Drew YoungeDyke, MUCC field manager.

The goal of the project was to establish native plants that will benefit wildlife before any invasive species have an opportunity to encroach in the area and help establish a border between private and public lands. The trees included serviceberry, ninebark, white oak and red oak, which will provide food and cover for elk, deer, grouse and other wildlife. 

Volunteers not only rolled up their sleeves and worked together side-by-side to improve habitat but they also shared a meal and talked about why they work for wildlife as members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“I’ve been involved with RMEF for 27 years. It’s a great organization. It does a lot of things for wildlife and does a lot of things for hunters,” said Scott Wheeldon of the RMEF Saginaw Chapter.

“I got involved about 15 years ago. We get out here in the Pigeon and we plant and tear fence down. It’s a great project. We have a great time and we’ll be back again,” said Mark Sommerman, Traverse Bay Chapter co-chair.

“We do the same thing in the fall. In September, we have a rendezvous and we get together to pick a project with the DNR. We get a group of volunteers together and we get that done,” added Johnson.

As another volunteer explained, “This is what sportsmen do—get out and do stuff for wildlife.”

Spoken like a true team member.

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