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      $65,000 for deer habitat improvement projects planned for Upper Michigan

      The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that nine Upper Michigan conservation organizations are set to receive grant money to improve deer habitat.

      According to the DNR, the Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative will provide nearly $65,000 in grant money to improve deer habitat in Alger, Chippewa, Dickinson, Iron, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee and Ontonagon counties.

      "In a deliberate effort to increase participation in the DHIPI grant program, we expanded the eligibility requirements in 2014 and we received an excellent crop of proposals, said DNR wildlife biologist Bill Scullon. "We increased the available grant funding from $50,000 to $65,000 allowing us to fund all of the qualified projects and grow the program."

      The following organizations will receive DHIPI grants in 2014:

      â?¢ The Dickinson Conservation District will receive $9,250 to plant crabapples and oak trees on more than 40 parcels of privately owned land in Dickinson, Iron and Menominee counties, improving the availability of hard and soft mast food sources.

      â?¢ U.P. Whitetails, in partnership with The Forestland Group LLC, will receive $10,000 to plant 15,000 mesic conifers in historic Alger County winter deer range and advanced oak saplings on Heartwood Forestland Fund IV property where hard mast-producing beech trees have been lost due to beech bark disease. Approximately 150 acres in Alger County will receive 1,500 8-foot-tall saplings in a concerted effort to establish acorn-producing oak groves and enhance summer deer range.

      â?¢ Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County will receive $7,500 to partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to enhance wildlife openings on 12 sites with native prairie and cool season plantings. This project partners deer habitat improvement with Wildlife Unlimitedâ??s youth hunter recruitment program. It also provides new opportunities for hunters with disabilities, using the groupâ??s specially outfitted accessibility hunting trailer.

      â?¢ Marquette County Conservation District will receive $6,410 to plant crabapples and oak trees on more than 35 parcels of privately owned land in Marquette County.

      â?¢ The Ontonagon chapter of Whitetails Unlimited will receive $7,710 to create a 10-acre wildlife opening project adjacent to a deer wintering complex. This project is intended to provide nutritious wildlife forage to deer during the snow-free months, especially the critical weeks in the spring and fall as deer migrate to and from winter habitat.

      â?¢ Grand Marias Sportsmenâ??s Club and the Alger Conservation District will receive $4,800 to plant oak, crabapples, hemlocks and wildlife shrubs on nine private land parcels in northeast Alger County to improve summer range conditions and forage diversity.

      â?¢ Drummond Island Sportsmenâ??s Club and Stoney Creek Timber LLC will receive $10,000 to transplant 50 large (2.5-inch diameter) red oak and crabapple trees to private lands directly adjacent to public lands on Drummond Island in Chippewa County. The project is designed to introduce acorn and soft mast-bearing trees where mast food sources are deficient. The advanced size of the trees means they can be productive mast producers within a few years and are above the deer browse line, which is important since they are being planted in an active deer wintering complex.

      â?¢ A landowner on Drummond Island in Chippewa County will receive $7,500 to plant advanced-size oak saplings and 750 wildlife shrubs on a large, private land holding adjacent to public lands. The project is designed to improve forage availability within a deer wintering complex.

      â?¢ The Alger County Chapter of UP Whitetails will receive $1,600 to partner with a private landowner to plant 1,000 red oak seedlings in an area heavily affected by beech bark disease.