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Strong partnerships help rare ecosystem type in southeast Michigan

Original article published June 16th, 2014 on Michigan DNR website:  http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153–330868–,00.html

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). This MOU will continue and expand habitat work to preserve lakeplain oak opening prairies in southeast Michigan through 2024.

TNC has been assisting with habitat work at Petersburg State Game Area by securing funds, providing field staff and conducting habitat improvement projects for the past several years. The new MOU expands this habitat work to additional state game areas, including Brownstown, Pointe Mouillee and Erie. This project benefits habitat for numerous wildlife, invertebrate and plant species, including the Karner blue butterfly – an endangered species that relies on disturbances or management of the lakeplain oak openings habitat.

Lakeplain oak opening prairies are oak-dominated savanna communities in which there is less than 50-percent tree canopy coverage. Historically, lakeplain oak openings were very abundant. Today, very few examples of this ecosystem type exist.

The signing of this MOU furthers the Green Ribbon Initiative (GRI), a partnership of conservation groups working together for many years to protect the natural beauty and biological diversity of the Oak Openings Region. While the GRI was originally formed in northwest Ohio in 2000, the partnership was recently broadened to include partners from the Oak Openings Region of southeast Michigan.

To learn more about the GRI and the Oak Openings Region and for a full list of project partners, visit http://oakopenings.org.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.