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New program aims to boost grasslands in state game areas

Last week, representatives of the DNR, Pheasants Forever and several other groups gathered at Maple River State Game Area (which stretches through Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties) to launch the Adopt-A-Game-Area program and dedicate a kiosk recognizing sponsors of the game area.

This new program encourages individuals and organizations to sponsor grassland habitat projects on the state-managed lands they use and value. Maple River is the first to be sponsored.

“Grasslands give important benefits to both wildlife and people. In addition to providing habitat and food resources for many wildlife species, grasslands also improve water and air quality,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “Plus, grassland areas are simply stunning to view in mid- to late summer when the prairie wildflowers are in full bloom.”

Stewart said that grassland pollinators, like bees and monarch butterflies, help to pollinate crops that keep the country fed. “Without grasslands, we’d be in real trouble,” he said. Throughout Michigan, grasslands are being converted to agriculture and development and now are one of the rarest habitat types in the world.

The new Adopt-a-Game-Area program is a partnership between the DNR, Pheasants Forever and the Hal and Jean Glassen Foundation. Expanded support of this program, through sponsorships, will provide valuable nesting, brood-rearing, foraging and winter habitat for a wide range of wildlife including deer, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, cottontail rabbits, songbirds and pollinators.

Several game areas currently are accepting sponsorships, including Adams Township, Allegan, Cornish, Dr. Gordon Guyer-August Creek, Gratiot-Saginaw, Maple River, Nayanquing Point, Pinconning Township, Petersburg, Port Huron, Rose Lake, Sharonville, Shiawassee River, St. Clair Flats, St. John’s Marsh, Verona and the Thumb Mini-game areas.

There are three sponsorship levels: gold (over $25,000), silver (over $5,000) or bronze (over $500) for tax-deductible donations.

Learn more about the program and support for these public lands at michigan.gov/pheasant. Questions? Contact Ben Beaman, the program’s administrator, at bbeaman@pheasantsforever.org.