Maple River State Game Area
Goal: The DNR Wildlife Division is committed to improving habitat at the Maple River State Game Area (SGA) to benefit a variety of wildlife species. Long-term goal: to improve the quality of habitat for numerous wildlife species while improving waterfowl and pheasant hunting opportunities for mid-Michigan hunters.
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Major repairs to dikes and water control structures began the summer of 2010 and for the most part wrapped up in the fall of 2011. The Wildlife Division asks partners to understand that waterfowl hunting opportunities at Maple River SGA may be limited while habitat and waterfowl management plans are initiated; however, the long-term goal is to increase waterfowl abundance and improve hunting opportunities.
Benefits: This work revitalizes the wetland, increasing its productivity. Wildlife will benefit from the refurbished habitat, and waterfowl numbers are expected to increase.
In unit B, the pump station will be replaced in 2013.
- The two new pumping stations in units B and D are being funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant awarded to Ducks Unlimited (DU). DU is handling the engineering of the pump stations and will be overseeing construction. Several water control structures will also be removed or upgraded. The goal is to bring the Maple River SGA wetland unit infrastructure (dikes, water control structures and pump stations) to annual maintenance mode by 2014 (a five-year plan). Demolition and replacement of the old pumping station will begin later in 2013 after the Unit C and D pumping station is complete.
In unit D, a new pump station will be constructed in 2013. Units C and D are now designated as a seasonal refuge for waterfowl (Sept. 1 – Dec. 1). This creates a safe-zone for waterfowl during hunting season and has been shown to increase the likelihood of more birds remaining at Maple River SGA during fall migration.
- Dike work, much like in Unit A, was done in Unit C. This work is now completed.
- The two new pumping stations in units B and D are being funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant awarded to Ducks Unlimited (DU). DU is handling the engineering of the pump stations and will be overseeing construction. Several water control structures will also be removed or upgraded. The goal is to bring the Maple River SGA wetland unit infrastructure (dikes, water control structures and pump stations) to annual maintenance mode by 2014 (a five-year plan).
- In an attempt to hold more ducks at Maple River SGA throughout the hunting season, units C and D were designated as season refuge (Sept. 1 - Dec. 1) beginning in 2010.
- Construction of a new pumping station that will allow for better water control in Units D & C began the week of July 15, 2013.
- In order to complete this construction, water drawdowns will occur in Unit B and may also occur in Unit C. These drawdowns are temporary and both units are planned to be flooded as soon as construction allows.
- In August 2013, repair work on the Unit D spillway will commence to repair the damage caused by this spring's flood.
- By duck season 2011, the numbers of ducks utilizing the refuge had already increased and the ducks were remaining longer.
- Hunters have adapted to the refuge and there has not been a noticeable drop in use of the area after the opening weekend. In fact there has been more consistent use of the area throughout the duck season.
- The refuge concept will be re-evaluated every three years.
- In 2012, the interior terracing dikes were removed and the unit was prepared for farming to begin in 2013.
- In August 2013, the Wildlife Division will oversee work to improve water control in Units X and Y.
In unit F, work will be conducted on the Blair Road dike.
- In Unit F, the dike and spillway were in need of major repairs. This work was completed in the fall of 2012. The goal is to be able to fully flood Unit F for waterfowl hunting beginning in 2013.
- Dike repair are planned for August 2013.
- Upland Grasslands Management
- Upland grasslands management has already begun. Wildlife Division staffers mowed multiple fields in February and March 2010 to set back encroaching shrubs and improve nesting cover. Wildlife Division personnel are evaluating opportunities to create better drainage and improve the agriculture program as well.
- Other improvements to the Game Area will include upgrading the wetland hunting/photography blind on the north side of Unit B, adding new signs along highway 127 and in several parking lots, improving the Unit B parking lot, and improving the boat access ramps.
- Future plans and discussions for the wetland units at Maple River will involve adjusting annual flooding and de-watering plans, draw-down schedules, invasive species control, farming plans, evaluating the refuge and hunter use, and ensuring there are annual dike and water control structure inspections and repairs.
- If hunter overcrowding becomes an issue, the Wildlife Division will need to investigate implementing some form of managed waterfowl and deer hunting within the impoundments for a portion or all of the waterfowl season. Increased demand for hunting may also lead to expanding opportunity by diking, farming and flooding a portion of Unit E.