For the fourth year, the Department of Natural Resources is holding a lottery for landowners to obtain a free survey and report of the plants and animals on their property.
The work is performed by employees in the agency’s Natural Heritage Conservation program.
The reports provide landowners information about rare species found in the area, invasive species to be on the lookout for and general information about the soils, geology and hydrogeology in the area.
One hundred landowners will be selected in a lottery; applications are being accepted through Jan. 31.
The program has proven popular with the public. In 2015 the DNR received 750 applications; last year it got 1,000.
To create the reports, the DNR reviews databases containing information about the rare plants and animals found through field surveys of public lands or nongovernmental organization lands. If a landowner prefers, the review also can include a site visit by a DNR employee.
The work normally would cost landowners about $300, but a private donation to the Natural Heritage Conservation program is covering the cost of the searches for the 100 Landowner Conservation Reports.
While I may not spend as much time as I wish I could in the grouse woods of Northern Michigan; I try to make the most of my trips when I am able to head North. This fall I had several 4:00am wake up calls, attended multiple grouse camps, and spent time with several great guys that I am lucky to call my friends and family.
The news isn’t particularly good for West Virginia’s upland bird hunters.
Their favorite target, the ruffed grouse, is especially scarce this year. Their next favorite, the woodcock, has been in gradual decline for several years. While there are areas where both species are relatively abundant, statewide a hunter’s chance to bag a brace or two is pretty poor.
Keith Krantz, a biologist with the state Division of Natural Resources, said nesting success for grouse was poor last spring.
“That’s what’s driving this year’s poor outlook,” he said. “Observations of grouse broods were 6.7 percent less than in 2015, and 17.6 percent less than the five-year running average.”
Krantz said grouse were most abundant in the mountain counties.
“That area of the state continued to lead the state in observations, but the level we saw this year declined from last year,” he added. “The number of broods this year was roughly equivalent to the 2012-13 season.”
The southern and western counties had even fewer broods.
“If you’re in those parts of the state, you’re in for a tough year,” Krantz said.