Michigan’s sportsmen, like those elsewhere in the United States, are expected to pay licensing fees for the privilege of hunting and fishing in the Mitten State’s bountiful waters and forests. Residents, for example, must pay $76 for a license that permits harvesting fish and other animals, including the state’s plentiful deer. Non-residents pay $266 for the same privilege.
It is the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees those natural resources and collects the fees for sporting licenses. And it is same DNR that is providing grants of money, derived from those fees, to private landowners in a six-county expanse of territory in northeastern Michigan. This new program, said a DNR statement, is intended to “to enhance food and cover for deer on private land.” The Deer PLAN (Private Land Assistance Network) grant program will provide $50,000 in funds to private landowners, for example, to plant trees and otherwise improve deer habitat. Deer rely on the seeds and nuts of trees, called mast, for their survival.
DNR biologist Brian Piccolo, according to the statement, said "Fifty thousand dollars will be divided among the 12 successful applicants." He added, "Fruit- and nut-bearing tree species are very popular in this area because they provide a long-term food source for deer and many other wildlife species. On-the-ground habitat work like this will provide great wildlife benefits to the region as well."
The DNR described as “organizations” those private landowners which will provide Deer PLAN money. They are:
A landowner in Montmorency County who will receive $2,000 to plant oak and northern white cedar seedlings.
Durkee Lakes Hunt Club will receive $3,400 to plant apple trees, American chestnut, white oak, red oak, jack pine, highbush cranberry, nannyberry and hawthorn seedlings.
A landowner in Alcona County will receive $2,644 to create a 7-acre wildlife pasture where clover and apple trees will be planted.
A landowner in Crawford County will receive $4,000 to create wildlife openings totaling 16 acres.
Canada Creek Ranch will receive $2,940 to create a series of wildlife openings on 4 miles of former logging roads.
A landowner in Presque Isle County will receive $3,440 to regenerate northern white cedar through new protection methods for educational purposes.
Lost Lake Woods Association will receive $6,477 to plant oaks, apple trees, and highbush cranberry shrubs.
No Doe Hunting Club will receive $5,559 to plant oak and crabapple seedlings.
Black River Ranch will receive $10,000 to plant wildlife openings totaling 39 acres.
A landowner in Presque Isle County will receive $2,130 to create a 3-acre wildlife opening.
A landowner in Montmorency County will receive $5,559 to plant oak and crabapple seedlings.
A landowner in Alpena County will receive $2,000 to plant apple trees.
Recipients of the grants were chosen this year and will provide a 25-percent cost share. Work funded by the grants must be completed by September 30. According to the DNR statement, the recipients were “were scored competitively against other applications.” The DNR did not further identify the recipients of the funds.
Ashley Autenrieth, the biologist for the deer program, told Capitol Confidential that the money for the grants comes from the Deer Range Improvement Program (DRIP) and the Fish and Games fund. The DNR contends that 24 percent of Michigan land that is publically owned does not have enough impact on deer in the state, thus making the grants necessary. Autenrieth contends that most deer live on private land.
The Durkee Lakes Hunt Club is a membership organization that owns land near Oscoda, in Michigan’s lower peninsula. According to its website, it offers “a rare opportunity to become a member and stockholder in one of the most prestigious hunting and fishing clubs in Michigan. Durkee Lakes Hunting and Fishing Club offers 6600 acres of wild lands, 8 lakes, and over 20 miles of trout stream for the exclusive use of members and guests, with a long tradition of sportsmanship and conservation.” It offers pristine trout streams and also affords hunters the chance to shoot grouse, deer, and bear. A membership and stock in the organization can cost most than $100,000.