MUCC convention in Big Rapids this weekend

BIG RAPIDS — The Michigan United Conservation Clubs comes to Big Rapids on Friday through Sunday for its annual state convention.

The convention, which will be at the Holiday Inn, features leadership training on Friday.

The MUCC was founded in 1937 and is the largest statewide conservation organization in Michigan with its stated mission “to unite citizens to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.”

“To my knowledge, this is the second time our annual MUCC convention has gone to Big Rapids,” Amy Trotter, MUCC’s deputy director, said, “We move it around the state annually. It’s based on who can accommodate us and how many rooms they have. We usually plan about a year in advance.”

The opening day on Friday features an On The Ground project at Haymarsh Lake State Game Area (see related story)“All of our members are volunteers usually at a local Rod & Gun Club or something like that,” Trotter said, “and we can give them the opportunity to improve upon or learn new skills that may be necessary for them to be effective in their local groups.”

Leadership training takes up the rest of the day. Convention registration is 7-9 a.m. On Saturday, activities include the annual report from executive director Dan Eichinger and addresses from notable speakers, including DNR director Bill Moritz.

“This is the culmination of our grass roots policy studying process,” Trotter said. “Our members from all over the state have talked about issues on improving upon or changing policy here in Michigan as it relates to conservation issues. They come up with ideas and draft it in the form of a resolution. It goes through a process at the regional level, then it’s approved at the local levels and come to the statewide convention where our delegates will vote on it and choose to approve or oppose. It’s essentially a conservation Congress.

“It then gives the staff marching orders on what we should be working on during the coming year with Lansing and the various departments.”

Voting for officers begins later in the day on Saturday.

“We have quite a diversity of issues we’ll be talking about this year,” Trotter said. “We’ll be talking about urban deer management in Michigan, youth hunter supervision, increased penalties for harassment of anglers, hunters and trappers. We have a lot of bear resolutions this year related to bear hunting. There’s always quite a diversity.

“We’ve seen a lot of success from the resolutions that passed last year. From our convention last year in June, we’ve already had 14 laws passed and signed by the governor, as well as a number of wildlife and conservation orders that were right in line with our resolutions.”

Among those actions the MUCC passed last year and have been carried out were aggressively cracking down on poaching in Michigan.

“We raised the fines and restitutions,” Trotter said.

Final business activities take place on Sunday morning.

Trotter anticipates around 150 voting delegates coming from all over the state.