Alpena Wildcats are joining the effort to help protect and enhance eco-tourism in Alpena! Woodshop and welding students are partnering with numerous organizations to promote conservation and wildlife habitat restoration by helping to protect two local winter hibernacula for bats at Rockport State Recreation Area.
Alpena High School industrial arts teachers Ron Cadarette and John Suszek, building on previous work by Scott Mackenzie and current woodworking teacher Zach Grulke, are enthusiastic about supporting their student’s involvement in helping protect not only the bats using the hibernacula, but the public as well. Welding students designed and built custom steel gate structures to protect the hibernacula. The gates were installed and fabricated to each hibernaculum by industrial arts students in early June, 2013. These gates protect the bats habitat by safely excluding the public from accessing these dangerous tunnels while enabling the bats to come and go freely. Additionally, the gates minimize disturbance to the hibernating bats; which can increase their survival. In June of 2014, welding students returned to place a steel plate over a collapsing portion of the tunnel, which was then covered by the DNR with rocks and gravel to provide insulation. Woodworking students are helping promote conservation and wildlife habitat restoration by designing and building summer bat habitat houses that can be placed at the recreation area. This will provide further habitat for bats in the area and promote habitat conservation.
In order to better educate Alpena High School students and the local community on the importance of bats, Michelle Maust from the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) gave two live bat presentations in early April. The presentations focused on learning the truth about bats and what we can do to protect these critters. The OBC is a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources to protect bats through live animal programs, community education, collaborative partnerships and more.
If you are interested in learning more on the bat project in a broader scale please contact Jennifer Kleitch, Wildlife Biologist with the Michigan DNR at 989-785-4251 ext. 5230 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.