The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that the Upper Peninsula Habitat Workgroup has reconvened with new members and a renewed mission focused on improving and conserving critical U.P. winter deer habitat.
The workgroup, comprised of natural resource professionals, private landowners and sportsmen’s groups, is led by Natural Resources Commission member J.R. Richardson of Ontonagon and Jim Hammill of Crystal Falls, a wildlife management consultant who is also a retired DNR biologist.
“The group was reassembled and new members recruited to address the negative impacts of recent back-to-back severe winters on the U.P.’s deer population,” said Richardson. “With an eye on rigorous deer habitat management, our goal will be to develop deer winter range improvement strategies across all land ownerships in the U.P.”
The workgroup’s new mission is to develop comprehensive habitat strategies for identified U.P. deer yards, focusing primarily on lands not managed by the DNR. Private landowners will be offered technical assistance and other incentives to encourage support for maintenance and enhancement of winter deer habitat on their property, such as wildlife habitat and forest stewardship grants.
“The majority of winter deer habitat in the U.P., an estimated 80 percent, is managed by entities other than the DNR,” said Hammill. “The workgroup’s purpose will be to identify these landowners – whether they are paper companies, commercial forest landowners, the federal government or others – and work cooperatively with them to improve critical deer winter range through the use of professional forestry and habitat management practices.”
Members of the U.P. Habitat Workgroup are:
- J. R. Richardson, Michigan Natural Resources Commission
- Warren Suchovsky, DNR Forest Management Advisory Committee
- Bernie Hubbard, Society of American Foresters
- Jeff Joseph, Plum Creek Timber Company
- George Lindquist, Regional Vice President, Michigan United Conservation Clubs
- Randy Charles, U.S. Forest Service, Ottawa National Forest
- Terry DeBruyn, U.S. Forest Service, Hiawatha National Forest
- Terry Minzey, DNR U.P. Wildlife Supervisor
- Dennis Nezich, DNR Forest Resources Division Field Coordinator
- Tony Demboski, Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance
- Eric Steir, American Forest Management, Inc.
- Jim Hammill, Iron Range Consulting & Services, Inc.
- Matt Watkeys, Marquette County Conservation District
The workgroup’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 3; meeting time and location will be announced at a later date and posted to the DNR’s online calendar atwww.michigan.gov/dnrcalendar.