The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and several partnering groups recently opened the first Grouse Enhanced Management Site (GEMS) developed on private land in Michigan – the “Gold Mine” GEMS in Iron County.
Representatives of the DNR, Plum Creek, Wildlife Unlimited, the Ruffed Grouse Society and the Wildlife Management Institute spoke during the Sept. 24 ribbon-cutting and kiosk-unveiling ceremony, which was held at the new GEMS, located on Plum Creek property, a few miles northwest of Iron River.
“Advancing conservation and maintaining the hunting heritage of the Upper Peninsula are not the sole responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources; rather, it takes the involvement of the entire community,” said Terry Minzey, DNR U.P. regional wildlife supervisor. “This GEMS is a shining example of community, in which private industry, local sportsmen, national conservationists and the DNR have formed a partnership with the goal of sustaining local economics, practicing conservation and preserving our hunting heritage."
The Gold Mine GEMS area is more than 550 acres with roughly 3 miles of hunter walking trails.
Since 2014, the DNR and various partners have worked together to develop and maintain 10 GEMS in the Upper Peninsula and four in the Lower Peninsula. These intensively managed, accessible, walk-in areas provide hunters outstanding places to find grouse and American woodcock.
The Gold Mine GEMS project was made possible through a DNR Wildlife Habitat Grant in partnership with Plum Creek, Wildlife Unlimited and the Wildlife Management Institute.
Wildlife Habitat Grants provide funding to local, state, federal and tribal units of government, profit or nonprofit groups and individuals to assist the DNR Wildlife Division with developing or improving wildlife habitat for game species. Hunting license dollars help to build the available pool of grant funds.
Most GEMS are located in remote areas and vary in size from several hundred to several thousand acres. An intensive timber harvest schedule helps to provide great wildlife habitat, and old logging roads are converted to walking trails that offer minimal terrain challenges and provide comfort to hunters who may not be familiar with the area.
Information kiosks are located at all GEMS where hunters can find out where to park and access walking trails, learn about timber management, grouse and woodcock habitat, and discover great discounts from local businesses.
Directions to the “Gold Mine” Grouse Enhanced Management Site
Head west on U.S. 2 from Iron River. Turn right onto Gibbs City Road. Continue north on Gibbs City Road for 9.2 miles to a T-intersection at Ponozzo Road. Stay to the left on Gibbs City Road for another 0.4 miles to U.S. Forest Service Road 3470, which is also known as the Gold Mine Road. Turn left onto Gold Mine Road and go 1.7 miles to the “Gold Mine” GEMS kiosk and parking lot area, which is on the left.
For more information on the DNR’s Grouse Enhanced Management Sites, visit the DNR website atwww.michigan.gov/hunting.
/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Suggested captions follow.
GEMS Sign: Signs point the way down Gold Mine Road to the new Grouse Enhanced Management Site on Plum Creek property in Iron County.
Partners: Partners involved in development of the new Gold Mine Grouse Enhanced Management Site northwest of Iron River pose near the information kiosk at the site during an opening ceremony, Sept. 24.
Top row (from left): Jeff Joseph, resource supervisor, Plum Creek; Pat Ruble, regional director, Wildlife Management Institute; Marc Miller, Michigan Department of Natural Resources regional initiatives deputy; Rick Commenator, president, Iron County Wildlife Unlimited; Amber Oja, resources forester, Plum Creek; Larry Pifke, Iron County Wildlife Unlimited. Bottom row (from left): Terry Minzey, DNR Upper Peninsula regional wildlife coordinator; Meadow Kouffeld-Hansen, regional biologist, Ruffed Grouse Society; and DNR upland game bird specialist Al Stewart.
Hunters: Roger Zanon and Jan Gibson, both from Iron River, Michigan, walk with their dog, Lexi, through one of the trails at the new Gold Mine Grouse Enhanced Management Site, which is located in Iron County.
Trail: A section of the nearly 3 miles of trails at the Gold Mine GEMS.
Kiosk: The information kiosk at the new Grouse Enhanced Management Site in Iron County, the first GEMS to be developed on private property. The more than 550 acres of land is owned by Plum Creek.
Unveiling: Project partners unveil the new kiosk at the Grouse Enhanced Management site in Iron County, northwest of Iron River.