Conservation Resource Alliance
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Joint Effort Improves Northern Michigan Wildlife Habitat

March 17, 2008

This is an invitation to reporters to cover a wildlife habitat improvement project being coordinated by the Conservation Resource Alliance’s Wild Link Program. The project will take place on Wednesday March 12th, 2008 at 10:30am at The Maple River Farm, 1689 Pleasantview Rd., Pellston, MI.

CRA initiated the Wild Link program to preserve and enhance wildlife corridors and water quality in northwest Michigan. Corridors are continuous strips of land which provide food, water, migration routes, cover and breeding habitat for numerous wildlife species. Wild Link works directly with private landowners who own land along corridors. Since 2004, Wild Link has worked on 30 properties to manage 6150 acres of northwest Michigan wildlife habitat.

This implementation project will improve young forest habitat (also know as early successional habitat) to benefit American woodcock, ruffed grouse, and numerous other species. CRA is coordinating the cutting of approximately 5 acres of trees and brush which will aid in the regeneration of thick young forests important to woodcock and grouse survival. CRA is partnering with Trees Inc. and Wolverine Power Cooperative on this project.

Young forest habitat is being lost due to the decrease in clear cutting and large scale disturbance, such as fire, which rejuvenate stands of aspen and alder and provide the dense cover needed by many species of wildlife. “During the past 30 years, woodcock numbers have seen a steady decline. Since 1968, the number of singing males in spring has declined an average of 1.3 percent per year. Since 1985, the loss is even greater, an average of 2.8 percent per year… Most experts agree that habitat loss and degradation are key reasons for the decline” (Sargent, M.S. and Carter, K.S., ed. 1999. Managing Michigan Wildlife: A Landowners Guide. Michigan United Conservation Clubs, East Lansing, MI. 297pp).

In an effort to combat this trend, CRA and the private landowner have implemented a rotational cutting plan on portions of the property. This plan will lead to the regeneration of approximately 15 acres of young forests every 7 years. This work will positively impact many young forest dependent species including the ruffed grouse population of the Maple River Watershed and the migratory American woodcock. This habitat restoration project is a joint effort between a private landowner, a non-profit group, a private company and a utility cooperative. Trees Inc. is also assisting with the project and will be doing the cutting with machinery usually used to clear power lines. Partial funding for the project is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program.

If interested in covering this project, please contact Eric Ellis, Wild Link program manager and Biologist, at the above contact information. The Maple River Farm is approximately 1100 acres in size, and with the current snow depths, the use of a snowmobile and snowshoes will be required for site access. Photos from the event will be available by contacting Eric.

Established in 1968, CRA is a private, non-profit organization that coordinates sensible stewardship of the land throughout northwest Michigan. CRA has coordinated restoration projects for over 30 years throughout northwest Michigan. For more information visit CRA’s web site at www.rivercare.org.


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