Good things are about to happen for the Michigan deer population.
The deer herd of Michigan's Upper Peninsula has been in a state of decline for several years. Depending on who you ask, there are several reasons. The reintroduction, with virtually no management, of the wolf population. Over-hunting of bucks and not allowing for doe tags. General mismanagement. All this is about to change.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded $100,000 to fund eleven projects across 13 counties. All with the goal to improve deer habitat through the Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative. The Habitat Improvement Initiative is a competitive grant program that focuses on improving the quality of habitat on land not managed by the state of Michigan.
The projects have been approved for organizations in Iron, Gogebic, Dickinson. Schoolcraft, Menominee, Iron, Ontonagon, Chippewa, Luce, Mackinac, Baraga, Marquette, and Delat counties. With the grants going to the following recipients:
- U.P. Whitetails Inc. - $6,829
- Ontonagon County Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited - $8,000
- Dickinson Conservation District - $12,000
- Gogebic Conservation District - $5,811
- Camp Debby LLC - $10,000
- Sustainable Resources/Forest Park School District - $5,360
- Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Conservation District - $10,000
- Iron-Baraga Conservation District - $13,000
- Marquette Country Conservation District - $13,000
- The Forestland Group and U.P. Whitetails Inc. - $10,000
- Schoolcraft Conservation District - $6,000
The grant proposals were scored and reviewed by a committee based on specific criteria. Production of tangible deer habitat enhancement benefits, proposal logistical feasibility, public accessibility, partner cost share and participation in the project, and the inclusion of a communications strategy. With this years grants going to projects to enhancing spring wildlife openings and forage, planting large oak saplings and other soft mast trees for high - calorie fall food, and creating hunter and walking trails.
The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative has awarded $450,000 on 60 grant projects since its creation in 2008. Projects have been completed in every Upper Peninsula County involving individual private land owners. All of the funds for the initiative come straight from hunters; $1.50 from every license sold in Michigan is allocated for habitat improvement programs.