By MATTHEW HALL
Capital News Service
LANSING – State workers and environmental groups will use a federal grant to help get the Kirtland’s warbler off the list of endangered species. The $171,000 grant will go toward a range of activities in Northeast Michigan, including the planting of two million jack pine seedlings, which are the only habitat the bird can nest in. “The Kirtland’s warbler is probably North America’s rarest songbird, and we’re really fortunate here in Northeast Michigan to have the type of forest system that this rare species depends upon,” said Abigail Ertel, the Kirtland’s warbler coordinator at Huron Pines, a Gaylord-based nonprofit conservation group that received the grant. The money is just the latest development in the nearly 40-year-long effort to bring the bird back from the brink of extinction, she said. Michigan’s northern forests contain about 98 percent of the species’ population during breeding season, according to Daniel Kennedy, an endangered species coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.