Providing Leadership and Technical Guidance
Many private citizens have land they would like to devote to wildlife. These range from individuals with a few acres to people with substantial acreage. Through our Private Wetlands Program, we have helped hundreds of people restore their land.
Often, we work with farmers. Some land is just too wet to be economically competitive in crop production. A farmer can spend decades and thousands of dollars putting in drainage, planting, using agricultural chemicals, and every year the same patch of land will have stunted crops or none at all. We help farmers turn a liability into a gain for wildlife.
The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy has worked with numerous businesses in industries ranging from forest products to utilities. Through the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy's "Rights-Of-Way for Wildlife" Program, the Conservancy collaborated with Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company to create wildlife habitat on otherwise "unused" land. The utilities provided the land, the Foundation provided technical assistance, and, along with local sponsors, bought seed and marshaled volunteers to carry out the work of creating appropriate habitat along hundreds of acres of right-of-way.
The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy worked with Mead Corporation and Menasha Corporation on many private properties in Northern Michigan to provide forest wildlife habitat.
Nature Centers such as Woldumar near Lansing and The Fowler Center in Lapeer County meet an important community need by providing information about the environment and outdoor recreation opportunities for children. But these non-profits have very limited resources to conduct their programs, so there is little left to restore diverse kinds of habitat on their property.
The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, in 1997, cooperated with 13 non-profit nature centers to create a wetland and/or a prairie at each. Now, tens of thousands of children and adults across the state will have the opportunity to experience those habitats and learn about the birds, animals and plants they shelter.
Sometimes, it takes private initiative to accomplish a project. That was the case with the Lake Orion dam, in Oakland County. Water spilling over the dam was so warm that it degraded the fishery of Paint Creek. The Department of Natural Resources suggested a bottom-draw pipe from a 45 foot depth in the lake to the river, so that cold water from the bottom of the lake would flow under the dam instead of warm water over the top. They couldn't carry out the project, but the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy did -- restoring 10 miles of brown trout fishery to Paint Creek.
Why Help Private Landowners?
Seventy-nine percent of Michigan is privately owned. In the Lower Peninsula, the figure rises to 90 percent. Landowners who restore habitat are providing a service for all Michigan citizens who like to enjoy wildlife, interact with wildlife, and participate in wildlife-based recreation. The birds and animals sheltered on private lands don't belong to the landowners. They fly and roam at will, to provide enjoyment for everyone.
By providing assistance to private landowners, the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy is helping wildlife in a cost-effective way.
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"We enjoy many hours watching and counting the families of ducks and geese on the wetland the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy restored on our property. We also see blue herons, green herons and coots along with other wildlife."--
Bob and Lottie Eddy