State DNR has $100K to fund deer habitat improvement projects

Photo provided by Mary Miilu Wagner Deer gather in the yard of Greenland Township Treasurer Mary Miilu Wagner.

BARAGA — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a total of $100,000 in deer habitat improvement funds available in the Upper Peninsula.

The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative is a competitive grant program designed to enhance deer habitat on non-state lands in the U.P.

Michigan groups eligible for these grants include organizations with a formal mission to promote wildlife conservation, hunting, or both.  Sportsmen’s clubs, conservation districts, land conservancies, industrial landowners with more than 10,000 acres, or private land affiliations where two or more unrelated persons jointly own 400 or more acres are all eligible to apply by the March 1 deadline.

“There are three primary goals applicants should strive to meet,” said Bill Scullon, DNR field operations manager and administrator for the grant initiative. “The projects should produce tangible deer habitat improvements, build long-term partnerships between the DNR and outside organizations and identify ways to showcase the benefits to the public.”

Now in its ninth year, the initiative is supported by the state’s Deer Range Improvement Program, which is funded by a portion of deer hunting license revenue.

“To date, a total of $447,000 in grant funds has been used to partner on 60 projects all across the U.P.,” Scullon said. “These projects have involved hundreds of private landowners and have positively impacted thousands of acres of habitat.”

The maximum amount of individual grants is $15,000 and the minimum is $2,000.

Previous projects funded under the initiative include planting of red oak, conifers and wildlife orchards; rehabilitation of historic wildlife openings; native prairie restoration; and scarification for conifer regeneration. Some past grant recipients have also facilitated youth-hunting opportunities on improved private lands.

“These projects are prime examples of how partner organizations can work with the DNR to enhance deer habitat, which is especially important in helping our recovering deer herd,” Scullon said.

In the U.P., all of the deer population is situated on about 30 percent of the region’s landscape during the winter months.

Roughly 80 percent of the deer wintering habitat in the U.P. is owned or managed by entities other than the DNR.

The complete grant application package is available on the DNR website at

For more information or questions regarding eligibility, please contact Bill Scullon at 563-9247 or