During the month of May Iroquois NWR completed its first forest improvement project which focused on replacing a non-native conifer plantation with native tree species. The first planting consisted of a 17 acre plantation that was comprised of species such as Norway spruce and Scotch pine that was replanted with 1800 native trees including hemlock, oak, hickory, black cherry, sugar maple, beech and yellow birch. An eagle scout candidate, Thomas McCarty, was also recruited to help coordinate volunteers to complete the project.
Tom worked to get donations of some planting supplies as well as food for the volunteers. Generous donations were given by the managers of Tractor Supply and Ace and included packs of gloves and various tools. Sheet pizzas from TOPS market was the food provided for the volunteers as well as soda, chips and cookies which were also purchased from TOPS market.
Work days consisted of weekends and were split between morning (8:30am -12pm) and afternoon (1pm -4:30pm) shifts and took place every weekend in the month of May with the first being Saturday the 1st and the last being Friday the 28th. Weather conditions and threats of thunderstorms caused the cancellation of work days on the afternoon shift of May 8th , all day May 2nd and 9th . Four refuge staff and 150 volunteers contributed a total of 466 hours of planting. Volunteers included children from scout groups to adults who were seeking a way to give their time to help the refuge create better wildlife habitats.