Ruffed Grouse Society Announces 2015 Michigan Drummer Fund Projects

Ten Young Forest Habitat Projects Are Targeted for Funding in 2015

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Coraopolis, PA -( Ten projects benefiting young forest habitat in Michigan have been selected by the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) and the American Woodcock Society (AWS) to receive $41,407 during 2015 through its Michigan Drummer Fund, a program that maintains and restores habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other young forest species.

On January 31, 2015, the Michigan RGS Habitat Council met to review and score 13 proposals submitted for habitat projects from resource management agencies. This year, the Habitat Council had $41,407 in Drummer Funds to apply towards a total requested amount of $73,822.

A total of eight projects are fully funded with two receiving partial funding (projects listed below). An estimated 319 acres of wildlife habitat will be impacted by these projects. Sources of additional funds to cover the remaining requests are being sought. After matching partner funds are included, nearly $193,393 in young forest habitat restoration and enhancement will be conducted in Michigan in 2015 through this program.

“The Michigan Habitat Council is comprised of representatives from RGS chapters, the regional director and the regional wildlife biologist. Chapters raise the money for the Drummer Fund and then play the primary role in deciding how it is distributed. This system ensures that the projects funded best represent what RGS chapters and members in Michigan want to see accomplished on-the-ground,” said Eric Ellis, RGS and AWS regional wildlife biologist and grant writer.

Funding for the Drummer Fund program largely comes from RGS chapters in Michigan who raise money through banquets and other special events. A total of 19 chapters contributed to the Michigan Drummer Fund in 2014.

“With the hard work and dedication of our chapters in Michigan, the Ruffed Grouse Society will continue to be a leader in creating young forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife in 2015 and beyond. The ability of our organization to impact grouse and woodcock to this level is a testament to the time, talent and resources of our chapters, members and volunteers who understand the importance of creating healthy forests, supporting abundant wildlife and preserving our sporting traditions for future generations,” said RGS and AWS President & CEO John Eichinger.

The 2015 Michigan Drummer Fund projects selected for funding are listed below:

  1. Allegan State Game Area Habitat Improvement Project – The Allegan Conservation District will manage this project in coordination with the MDNR. Project activities include the strip clearcutting of 17 acres of tag alder, planting native trees and shrubs, removal of 23 acres of invasive tree species harming native habitat and the cutting of 9 acres of non-commercial aspen. The Drummer Funds applied will be used as matching funds for a 2015 MDNR Wildlife Habitat Grant application.
  2. LeGrande Grouse Enhanced Management Systems Phase III – This project in Cheboygan County will restore and maintain 28 openings totaling approximately 80 acres. The area has a large amount of managed aspen, but needs opening restoration to provide habitat diversity to optimize conditions for ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and other young forest species. These openings were mowed and brushed out in 2013 with the use of RGS funds and planted to buckwheat and white clover in 2014. This final year of funding will cover the liming and planting of the RGS clover mix. The openings are scattered in areas immediately adjacent to the LeGrande GEMS site.
  3. Mosinee Grade Grouse Complex – This project will further enhance public land owned and managed by Gogebic County for timber products and young forest habitat. Activities funded in 2015 include the planting of fruit bearing trees and shrubs, creation of 3 small wildlife openings, the creation of new grouse hunter walking trails and the seeding of trails with a clover mix.
  4. Ralph GEMS Trails – Drummer Funds will be used to soil test, disk, fertilize and seed with the RGS clover mix roughly 16 acres (of an eventual 68 acres/17 miles) of walking trails within the Ralph GEMS site in Dickinson County with a goal of improved hunter access, grouse forage and grouse chick feeding areas.
  5. Burgess Lake Alder Improvement – This project will take place on state forest property near Big Rapids in Mecosta County. Funding will pay for the mowing of four acres of tag alder to improve stem regeneration and density for grouse and woodcock adjacent to a scheduled 43 acre commercial aspen harvest.
  6. Roger Moore Pigeon River Country Project – Before his passing in 2014, Mr. Roger Moore served on the RGS Habitat Council from its inception and was a champion for ruffed grouse, their habitat and conservation in Michigan for many decades. In his memory, the Flint RGS Chapter (soon to be known as the Keith Davis/Roger Moore Chapter) and the MDNR are partnering on a long-term project that in 2015 will plant 12 acres and 2.2 miles of trails (3 acres) for a total of 15 acres in the Pigeon River Country to buckwheat and white clover. This is the first year of a four year project to restore these openings and establish a hunter walking trail in Roger’s honor. In 2016 and 2017 this same area will be planted with annuals with the goal of improving the soil. In 2018, the project area will be limed, planted to RGS mix and hard and soft mast trees will be planted along the trails and around the edge of the openings. This area has a high concentration of aspen that is of the same age class. It is anticipated that a large amount of this aspen will be cut in the next 10-year period to break up the age classes.
  7. Grayling Forest Management Unit Openings – This project will result in the planting of full size native shrubs (e.g. gray dogwood, nannyberry serviceberry, hawthorn, crabapple and apple) that will provide soft mast food sources for ruffed grouse and a variety of other wildlife. These shrubs will be planted along the edges of 19 managed state forest wildlife openings in Crawford and Oscoda Counties. These openings total 81 acres and are designated to be managed primarily for ruffed grouse. This project will also include the planting of six of these wildlife openings (12 acres total) to buckwheat and then RGS clover mix.
  8. Grayling Forest Management Unit Lost Lake Aspen – This project will result in the rejuvenation of approximately 20 acres of non-commercial aspen on state forest land in Crawford County. To stagger age classes, an additional adjacent 20 acres will be cut in 5 years (Phase 2). This project will prevent a large healthy aspen stand from reverting to species that are less desirable for young forest dependent wildlife.
  9. Slagle Creek Noncommercial Aspen Clear Cut – The Cadillac-Manistee Ranger District of the Huron-Manistee National Forests will non-commercially cut 10 acres of mature aspen during the dormant season of 2015 to promote regeneration of a young aspen forest. This aspen stand is too wet and inaccessible to be commercially harvested. This project will benefit ruffed grouse, American woodcock, golden-winged warblers and other young forest wildlife species and is located on USFS land in Wexford County.
  10. St. Ignace District Early Successional Habitat Maintenance – This project was chosen for funding by the winner of the RGS 2014 Get-A-Member Campaign, Stuart Derrow an RGS member from Indiana. Work will take place at three separate locations totaling 22 acres on the Hiawatha National Forest near Rudyard and will involve non-commercial maintenance of small blocks of early successional (aspen/opening) habitat. The treatments will be a combination of mechanical and hand-cutting (chainsaws/brush saws). This project is expected to maintain age class diversity in a larger aspen/conifer complex and will be beneficial to woodcock and ruffed grouse.

Grant funds were also obtained to support some of the projects, primarily from the MDNR Wildlife Habitat Grant Program.

About The Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society

Established in 1961, The Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS/AWS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

Information on RGS/AWS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found at: