Youth Conservation Council uses grant to protect wildlife

In its second year, the Alger County 4-H Youth Conservation Council received a $1,000 grant from Dow Chemical Company through the Michigan 4-H Foundation to build and place artificial platforms for loons.

September 18, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- In its second year, the Alger County 4-H Youth Conservation Council received a $1,000 grant from Dow Chemical Company through the Michigan 4-H Foundation to build and place artificial platforms (ANPs) for loons in the Au Train basin and three other Alger County lakes.  The seven members of the 4-H YCC chose this project because it was hands-on and a great opportunity to use the resources they were provided.

The youth compiled a research report, built the platforms and placed the platforms in the lakes. 

In their research, they learned that humans pose the greatest threat to these. Humans can also take action to protect and restore loon nesting habitat, and the Alger County 4-H Youth Conservation Council did exactly this.  Thei''r service project represents a creative Revolution of Responsibility project to protect these rare animals.

Damon McCormick, from Common Coast in Hancock, suggested to the group that they place the ANPs in Alger County lakes to provide additional nesting areas for the loons.  McCormick also shared information on the acidity levels of the lakes to determine the best possible placements and provided directions on how to build nesting areas. 

With some help from adults, members created the platforms with materials such as PVC pipes, foam insulation, PVC cement, snow fencing, nylon cords and garden stakes. They also created chick ramps to enable loon chicks to climb aboard the platforms.   

Youth said that the most difficult part in constructing the artificial nesting platforms was using the spray foam and PVC cement, and the most rewarding part was seeing the finished products. 

To date, three platforms have been placed in the Au Train basin and one in Town Lake.  Two other assembled ANPs are designated for Lost Lake and Little Round Lake.  Although placement occurred too late for this year’s nesting season, the loons that frequent these water bodies will become familiar with the platforms and perhaps choose to nest on them in future years.

The council noted that their efforts would have been impossible without the help and support from Dow Chemical and the Michigan 4-H Foundation for the grant, the aid of Tim Trombley in helping prepare the materials for the platforms, and assistance from Gary Kivel and Branson Richard in placing the platforms.

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