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Monitoring Michigan's Migrating Monarch Butterflies

By CASEY WARNER
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

close-up of monarch butterfly on leaf18AUG17-In a quiet, out-of-the-way corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, down a narrow, winding, one-lane road, lies a unique spot whose significance you might not guess from its secluded surroundings.
Peninsula Point lighthouse, at the end of the Stonington Peninsula in Delta County, offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan, a scenic place to enjoy a walk along the beach or a picnic, and excellent bird watching, with more than 200 species of birds recorded there.
Then there’s the maritime history – the lighthouse, which was built in 1865 and once guided ships carrying iron ore and other products, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
But what Peninsula Point is most known – and visited – for is its connection to the monarch butterfly.
“Just as the Peninsula Point lighthouse guided ships on Lake Michigan, the Stonington Peninsula guides monarch butterflies as they begin their 1,900-mile migration south to their wintering grounds in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico,” reads a sign that greets visitors. “In the fall, thousands of monarchs can be seen here, waiting for favorable conditions before they cross Lake Michigan.”
While the chance to catch the majestic sight of multitudes of monarchs boosts tourism by drawing flocks of visitors to the area, the site is even more important for its contribution to monarch butterfly research and conservation.

map of Peninsula Point location in Delta County“Peninsula Point is one of only a very few places in North America where monarchs can be viewed migrating in great numbers,” says the sign at the lighthouse, part of Hiawatha National Forest and owned by the U.S. Forest Service. “Because it is so unique, the Forest Service, together with Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County and many volunteers, have been conducting research since 1994, making it the oldest data set on the monarch in North America.”
Run exclusively by volunteers, the Monarch Research Project at Peninsula Point includes migration census monitoring, during which volunteers also tag butterflies as part of the national Monarch Watch Program. An annual monarch migration census is conducted in only one other location in the U.S., Cape May, New Jersey.
Monarch research at Peninsula Point also includes participation in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, coordinated by the University of Minnesota. The protocol developed at Peninsula Point, one of the project’s first sites, has been used at other locations across North America.
“The Monarch Project on the Stonington Peninsula began in 1994, when a Forest Service volunteer noticed that there were a lot of monarch butterflies passing through Peninsula Point during later August and the month of September,” said Sue Jamison, who coordinates the work of the volunteers who collect data on monarch larva and eggs at Peninsula Point for the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

monarch butterflies congregate in cedar tree“Each year we try to have volunteers check daily during those weeks to look for increased numbers of monarchs congregating at the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula.”
The project is currently without a volunteer coordinator for the fall migration census and tagging – according to Janet Ekstrum, Forest Service wildlife biologist for Hiawatha National Forest, Rapid River Ranger District – and may not have the capacity to do regularly scheduled migration monitoring this year.
In previous years, as many as 21 monarchs tagged at Peninsula Point have been recovered in El Rosario, Mexico, almost 2,000 miles from the Stonington Peninsula.
Monarchs are unique in that they are the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration, similar to birds, because they can’t survive cold winters in northern climates.
“Using environmental cues, the monarchs know when it is time to travel south for the winter,” according to the U.S. Forest Service website. “Monarchs use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel long distances. Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home.”
The eastern population of North America’s monarchs goes south to the same 11 to 12 mountain areas in Mexico from October to late March.

father and son check for monarch larva and eggs on milkweed plants“Monarchs traveling south congregate on peninsulas. The shape of the peninsula funnels the migrating butterflies,” says the Forest Service website. “At its tip, the monarchs find the shortest distance across open water. They congregate along the shore to wait for a gentle breeze to help them across.”
Wind also plays a role in the volunteers’ monitoring efforts.
“We check the winds, as monarchs do not like to fly over water so they will leave with a north wind to fly over to Door County, Wisconsin,” said Jamison. “Peninsula Point is the southernmost point for monarchs in our area to fly over Lake Michigan.”
The Monarch Research Project at Peninsula Point, which depends on financial support from local organizations like Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County and the work of volunteers, collects data that is sent to various universities and has resulted in several research publications.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Janet Ekstrum at jekstrum@fs.fed.us or 906-474-6442, ext. 140.
“It’s a neat thing to do if you’re retired and all you do is golf,” said Rosie Spindler, who has volunteered to monitor larva at Peninsula Point for the past five years. She became interested in monarch conservation after a trip to visit butterfly preserves in Mexico where monarchs winter.

Watch a video about monarch butterfly migration and monitoring at Peninsula Point.

For those who don’t live in the central U.P., there are other opportunities for citizen scientists to get involved in studying monarchs – learn more at the Monarch Joint Venture website. Michigan residents also can help inform conservation decisions in the state by reporting monarch sightings at the Journey North web page.

monarch butterfly on milkweed with Lake Michigan in backgroundThe eastern population of monarch butterflies has declined by 80 percent over the last 20 years due mainly to habitat loss.
And this year’s measurement of the eastern monarch winter population in Mexico showed a 27 percent decrease compared to last year, likely due to an extreme winter storm.
Efforts to restore and maintain monarch habitat can help monarchs rebound and reverse the population decline.
“Because of the tremendous migration they make, monarchs need a variety of habitats,” said Dan Kennedy, endangered species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “In the summer, they lay their eggs on milkweed because that’s the only plant their caterpillars will eat.
“Monarchs also need habitat to winter in, not to mention habitat where they can stop and refuel along the way. They are very active insects and require a wide variety of flowering plants to provide the food they need to survive and make their long journey.”

Grasslands, vitally important to many species, including monarchs and other pollinators, have become increasingly rare.
“Making sure pollinators have habitat that supports milkweed and other native, flowering plants is important to preserving these key species,” said Kennedy.
Through several habitat enhancement projects, the DNR – along with many partners, organizations and volunteers – is working to increase habitat for monarchs and other pollinators in Michigan.
“Because of the critical role these insects play in the ecosystem, as well as people’s lives, it is up to us to help keep these pollinator populations abundant and healthy,” Kennedy said.
For example, in southern Michigan, the DNR is working to restore and enhance grassland and pollinator habitat at the Shiawassee River State Game Area in Saginaw County and in Barry County’s Barry State Game Area.
In addition to the DNR’s efforts, many other organizations are supporting projects to improve pollinator habitat in Michigan. In June, TransCanada partnered with the Save Our Monarchs Foundation and many volunteers to plant 6,000 native wildflowers around TransCanada’s Woolfolk Gas Plant in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Currently, 4,000 acres already are being utilized as pollinator habitat. As part of their Pollinator Pathway Initiative, the organizations will continue their plan to seed an additional 7,000 acres across other TransCanada rights-of-way with native wildflowers this fall.
"Our existing assets align remarkably well with the monarch migratory route between Mexico and Canada,” said Brad Stermer, environmental specialist, operations and engineering for TransCanada. "Through our environmental partnership with Save Our Monarchs we have an opportunity to play a larger role in directly supporting pollinator health over the long term."
Even for those who don’t have a large amount of land, there are ways to create habitat that helps pollinators. More information about creating habitat for monarchs and other pollinators is available on the Monarch Joint Venture page.
Other helpful resources include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's steps for building a pollinator garden and the Michigan State University Extension’s Pollinators & Pollination page, which also offers information on gardening for pollinators.

Find out more about what ways to help pollinators in Michigan by visiting mi.gov/wildlife and clicking on the Monarchs in Michigan box.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles at www.michigan.gov/dnrstories.

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Gov. Snyder Helps Celebrate Opening of New Trail in Menominee Co.

Gov. Rick Snyder gets ready to lead a group of off-road vehicles down the new Hermansville to Escanaba multi-use trail in Menominee County Wednesday.17AUG17-Gov. Rick Snyder took an off-road vehicle ride today along the new Escanaba to Hermansville multi-use trail, celebrating one more milestone in deepening Michigan’s brand as The Trails State.
The trail was developed through a unique and innovative partnership between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and American Transmission Co.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Thomas St. Onge Veterans Museum in Hermansville, Gov. Snyder rode the roughly 25-mile ORV route east into Delta County to the Great Lakes Sports and Recreation Club in Escanaba.
"This new outdoor recreation opportunity is a great example of government, businesses and the community working together," Gov. Snyder said. "Because of the public-private collaboration, residents and visitors alike will enjoy this trail for decades to come and celebrate the best of Pure Michigan.”
Development of the trail began in 2007 when the state acquired the inactive railroad corridor from Wisconsin Central.
This acquisition of the corridor was a collaborative effort between the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s Parks and Recreation Division and the Michigan Department of Transportation, with grant funding provided by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Gov. Rick Snyder is ready to cut a ribbon Wednesday in Hermansville in Menominee County.The $550,000 land purchase was transacted under the State Transportation Preservation Act, which preserves future transportation interest, while allowing for interim trail use.
From 2009 through 2011, the DNR engaged in a public comment process to determine the best possible uses for the railroad corridor. Overwhelmingly, the public wanted the corridor open for multiple uses, ranging from hiking, biking and off-road vehicle use to snowmobiling and horseback riding.
“In 2013, the American Transmission Co. approached the DNR about the possibility of placing its electric transmission line next to the rail-trail,” said Ron Yesney, DNR Upper Peninsula trails coordinator. “In return, the company offered to fund construction and maintenance of the recreational trail, including three bridge upgrades.”
The resulting $3.5 million project has produced a premier multi-use trail corridor, helping to connect communities in the U.P., and important additional electric transmission into the region.
“This was a winning project all the way around,” said Tom Finco, vice president of external affairs for American Transmission Co. “By co-locating our transmission line within an established corridor, we minimized the environmental impact of the project and were able to provide state residents with a multi-purpose trail. This new recreational asset also should help attract tourists to an easily accessible part of the Upper Peninsula.”

Gov. Rick Snyder, talks with trails group representatives while looking at a map of the central Upper Peninsula Wednesday.One of the biggest benefits of this partnership is that it allows the DNR to save program dollars, which can now be used in other areas in need of recreational improvements.
“This type of partnership venture could potentially be duplicated elsewhere across Michigan where the need to develop recreational opportunities and energy infrastructure intersect,” said Stacy Haughey, DNR Upper Peninsula coordinator.
Local off-road vehicle riders and clubs have supported the trail development, providing another cooperative boost to the project. The Normenco Sportsman’s Club of northern Menominee County and the Sportsmen’s Off-Road Vehicle Association of Delta County will be the trail sponsors, coordinating maintenance of the trail.
Yesney said the joint effort in Menominee and Delta counties on this cooperative rail-trail development has been a success.
“It demonstrates an efficient way to achieve multiple goals and meet objectives, with significant improvements in recreation and electric infrastructure gained for the Upper Peninsula for decades to come,” Yesney said.

For more information on Michigan trails, visit www.michigan.gov/dnrtrails.

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Michigan Educators Register for K–12th Grade Wildlife Programs

16AUG17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers free educational opportunities to help educators looking for a fun way to integrate the state's unique flora and fauna into their curriculum, while still meeting required educational standards.
To date, over 5,000 ninth- through 12th-grade students have been exposed to natural resources in the classroom with Elk University – Educating Tomorrow’s Wildlife Managers. Elk University is designed to fit into teachers’ busy semester while meeting educational standards and touching on Michigan history, forest management, elk biology, wildlife disease and social considerations for wildlife management. Through YouTube lessons and activities, students will learn how the DNR manages and maintains a healthy elk herd for current and future generations.
A Year in the Life of a Michigan Black Bear, beginning its fourth year, is available to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade educators. Throughout the school year students will learn about the life cycle of the Michigan black bear, general black bear biology and behavior, and how the DNR manages and maintains a healthy black bear population. Additionally, over the school year, classrooms will get to “follow” a bear through its seasonal movements by using actual data points from a radio-collared Michigan black bear. 
New last year, the Go Wild for Michigan’s Wildlife program is open to kindergarten through fifth-grade educators. Through this program, teachers can share the wonders of Michigan’s wild inhabitants with young learners to build appreciation for these unique species and the places they call home. Materials include lesson plans, wildlife posters for the classroom and sets of “Go Wild for Michigan’s Wildlife” critter cards for students. Sets of the critter cards for students are limited and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. An electronic copy of the critter cards will be provided to all registered educators.

Educators are asked to register for these classroom programs by September 30th.

To register, visit mi.gov/dnrteachers and click on “Wildlife Education and Outreach,” then select the program(s) you are interested in.

Explore additional DNR education and outreach opportunities and resources at mi.gov/dnreducation.

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Wild Game Processors Now Need Free Permit from DNR

14AUG17-At its June meeting, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission signed an order requiring anyone who receives compensation for processing wild game to be registered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The new requirement was brought forward as part of a larger set of deer management regulations related to hunting licenses, chronic wasting disease response measures, urban conflict and other issues. The commercial game processor registration requirement is effective immediately.
“This free permit is to determine how many game processors are in the state of Michigan and where they are located,” said Casey Reitz, DNR wildlife permit specialist.

“As we work to manage white-tailed deer diseases in Michigan, we need to be able to contact processors who might be able to assist us in processing donated deer," she said. "In addition, we would like to provide this information to hunters so they can have their deer processed relatively close to home. Right now, we do not have those capabilities.
“If you receive compensation for processing game, you are now required to be registered with the DNR. It is a quick and easy process of filling out an online form and then printing off your permit.”
Commercial wild game processors should register immediately so they are legal for the fall hunting season. The form to register is located at www.michigan.gov/wildlifepermits, and anyone who is unable to fill out the online form should call 517-284-9453 for assistance.

Food safety requirements and licensing are regulated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the DNR. MDARD and USDA conduct inspections associated with those regulations.

Wild game processors who have questions related to being licensed or food safety requirements can visit www.michigan.gov/meatprocessing or call at 800-292-3939.

More information can also be found at:

bullet Wild Game Processing at Retail Food Establishments Variance
bullet Venison Processing - Processing Guide and Sanitation Requirements for Retail Food Establishments  
bullet Wild Game Sausage Processing Requirements  

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DNR Offers Waterfowl Hunting Clinics in Bay City and Cadillac

waterfowl hunter using duck call with black lab14AUG17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will offer introductory waterfowl hunting clinics in Bay City August 26th and Cadillac September 2nd as part of its Outdoor Skills Academy.
This “A to Z” class will cover everything new waterfowl hunters need to know to get started, including how to find a location, scouting, calling and gear. Instructors will demonstrate how to set up a waterfowl hunting site and decoys, calling and other techniques. All students will leave with firsthand experience that will increase their chances of success this upcoming waterfowl season.

Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, Bay City
3582 State Park Drive (inside Bay City State Recreation Area)
Saturday, Aug. 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $60, which includes a Daggs Custom Calls duck call and lunch

Instructors include Joe Duncan of Daggs Custom Calls and DNR staff members. Participation is limited to 18. For more information, contact Valerie Blaschka at 989-667-0717 or blaschkav@michigan.gov.

Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center, Cadillac
6087 E. M-115 (inside Mitchell State Park)
Saturday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $35, which includes a Daggs Custom Calls duck call and lunch

Instructors include Kenny Daggs and Joe Duncan of Daggs Custom Calls; Matt “Master Blaster” Peterson of Flight Control Guide Service; and Michigan DNR Outdoor Skills Academy pro-staff. Participation is limited to 30. For more information, contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321 or shawe@michigan.gov.

Registration is required for both classes. Register online at the Michigan eStore.

A Recreation Passport is required for entry into both Bay City State Recreation Area and Mitchell State Park.

The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy offers in-depth, expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of outdoor activities at locations around the state. Learn more about the Outdoor Skills Academy at michigan.gov/outdoorskills.

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Understanding the Importance of Streamside and Lakeshore Habitat

Riparian areas have numerous values for people and wildlife

By JOHN PEPIN-Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Vegetation growing alongside streams, like the East Branch of the Eagle River in Keweenaw County shown here, provides several benefits.11AUG17-The thousands of rivers, lakes and streams in Michigan are beautiful, special places, not only to a wide range of people, including anglers, boaters and campers, but numerous plant and animal species.
Those areas between the water and the uplands are called riparian areas or riparian zones. A riparian management zone is “an area designated and consciously managed to protect functions and values of riparian areas.”
Within a watershed — the area drained by a river or stream system — the lands next to streams and rivers are particularly important to the health of those waterways.
“Because of the unique conditions adjacent to lakes, streams and open-water wetlands, riparian areas harbor a high diversity of plants and wildlife,” Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists said in a report on “Riparian Zone Management and Trout Streams: 21st Century and Beyond.” “Life is simply richer along rivers and streams.
“Riparian areas are ecologically and socially significant in their effects on water quality and quantity, as well as aesthetics, habitat, bank stability, timber production, and their contribution to overall biodiversity.”
Plant habitat along rivers and streams is called riparian vegetation. The plants that grow there have an affinity for water.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff shock the Rock River in Alger County surveying fish populations.“Vegetative cover refers to overhanging or submerged tree limbs, shrubs and other plants growing along the shore of the waterbody,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website states. “Rivers, streams and lakes can be buffered from the effects of human disturbance in the watershed by varied, multi-layered vegetation in the land corridor that surrounds them.
“Healthy, intact vegetative cover in these riparian areas can help reduce nutrient and sediment runoff from the surrounding landscape, prevent bank erosion and provide shade to reduce water temperature. Vegetative cover can also provide leaf litter and large wood (such as branches and logs) to serve as food, shelter and habitat for aquatic organisms.”
In Michigan, large woody debris from mature trees growing along streambanks controls how streams look and function.
“Large woody debris provides cover for salmonids (trout and salmon), habitat and food for aquatic invertebrates, adds nutrients, traps smaller debris, provides feeding and resting sites for a wide variety of wildlife, and has other beneficial effects,” the DNR fisheries biologists said.
“When leaves, twigs, sticks and even entire trees fall into streams, they provide both food and shelter for aquatic insects, and habitat for reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals and birds.”

A muskrat drags a cattail reed over a log. Mink, otters, muskrats and beavers can be found feeding and denning along river shorelines.Woody debris can slow down fast-flowing water, create deep holes and provide cover for fish and other wildlife to hide in.
At Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, in Alger County, rangers said the streams there are home to more than 170 groups of aquatic macroinvertebrates, those organisms that that live underwater, do not have a backbone and can be seen with the naked eye.
“These include larval and/or adult water bugs, water beetles, caddisflies, stoneflies, dragonflies/damselflies, mayflies, fish flies/alderflies, true flies, riffle beetles, aquatic earthworms, scuds, leeches, snails and limpets, and crayfish,” the park’s website said. “The presence of caddisfly, stonefly and May fly larvae indicate that streams here are of high quality and are in good ecological health.”
According to the EPA, vegetative cover along lakes and streams varies naturally among the various ecological regions in the United States.
“The amount and complexity of vegetative cover for a given stream, river or lake is used as a measure of the integrity of the waterbody’s physical habitat,” the EPA said.
The DNR fisheries biologists said the agency and its partners spend many thousands of dollars each year to introduce additional large woody debris into our river systems, debris that has been lost artificially over time due to a variety of circumstances.

Kayakers enjoy a float down the Two-Hearted River in northern Luce County, three years after the Duck Lake Fire ravaged the riparian vegetation. “Not only are shorelines and rivers important for recreation, several species of wildlife depend on shorelines for their livelihood,” said Holly Vaughn, a DNR wildlife communications coordinator.
Ninety percent of all wildlife species use riparian areas for some aspect of their existence during their life cycles.
“Riparian obligate species are those that require riparian habitats for all or part of their livelihood and these include snapping turtles, wood ducks, river otters, et cetera,” the DNR biologists said.
Tree frogs, wood turtles, salamanders, and many other reptiles and amphibians, use the water for laying eggs and breeding each spring. Ospreys, eagles and herons are among the bird species that rely on streams, lakes and rivers for food and nest in large trees nearby.
The endangered piping plover nests and feeds on the sandy and rocky beaches of Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior. Terns and gulls nest on rocky shoals and island shorelines. Ducks, geese and swans nest on coastal marshes.
“Mink, otters, muskrats and beavers can be found feeding and denning along river shorelines,” Vaughn said. “A handful of unique tree species also grow on the banks of Michigan’s rivers. Paw-paw, blue beech or musclewood, and sycamore trees thrive in the wet, periodically flooded soils along rivers.”

River Partners, a California organization whose mission is to create wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment, said intact rivers and riparian areas attract more than wildlife.
“People hike, boat, fish, hunt, and explore these areas, bringing tourism dollars into the local economy,” the group’s website states. “Healthy riparian areas improve water quality, reduce erosion, attract beneficial insects, and enhance a variety of recreational opportunities.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service detailed several benefits of riparian areas on its website:

bullet Riparian areas help control non-point source pollution by holding and using nutrients and reducing sediment.
bullet Riparian areas are often important for the recreation and scenic values. However, because riparian areas are relatively small and occur in conjunction with watercourses, they are vulnerable to severe alteration and damages caused by people.
bullet Riparian areas supply food, cover, and water for a large diversity of animals and serve as migration routes and stopping points between habitats for a variety of wildlife.
bullet Trees and grasses in riparian areas stabilize stream banks and reduce floodwater velocity, resulting in reduced downstream flood peaks.
bullet Alluvial aquifers help maintain the base flow in many rivers in humid areas because of high water tables. In drier climates, streams lose water that can help build up the water table deep beneath the stream.

Brook trout are a Michigan gamefish species that thrives in cold, clean water.It’s no secret Michigan is home to tremendous water resources. The state has 3,288 miles of freshwater shoreline — second only to Alaska — and an extensive network of rivers, providing the people of Michigan with great recreation opportunities.

These habitats are vital for fish and wildlife and for people as well. Michigan’s lakes and rivers provide clean, sparkling drinking water for many Michigan cities and towns. They are also vital routes for industry. Shipping is an important part of Michigan’s economy.

Whether you’re a salmon angler, an agate hunter, a homeowner, a boater, camper, city planner, birdwatcher, hunter, or just like to enjoy the beauty of the scenery around lakes, rivers and streams, understanding the importance of riparian areas, and woody vegetation situated around lakes, can help us all more deeply appreciate the Great Lakes State and its tremendous water resources.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles at www.michigan.gov/dnrstories.

 

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Up to $90,000 in Grants Available for Forestry Projects Statewide  

11AUG17-Grant applications now are being accepted for the 2017-18 Urban and Community Forestry Program, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced today.
Up to $90,000 is available for projects statewide. Depending on the project type, applicants may request grants up to $20,000. All grants require a one-to-one match of funds, which can be cash contributions or in-kind services but cannot include federal funds.

Local units of government, nonprofit organizations, schools and tribal governments are eligible and encouraged to apply for the grants, which can be used for a variety of projects including:

bulletUrban forest management and planning activities.
bulletTree planting on public property.
bulletUrban forestry and arborist training and education events and materials.
bulletArbor Day celebrations and materials.

“Assistance provided through this grant program will help communities and partners interested in creating and supporting long-term and sustained urban and community forestry projects and programs at the local level,” said Kevin Sayers, Urban and Community Forestry Program coordinator.
Grant applications must be postmarked by Sept. 22, 2017. Projects that are awarded funding must be completed by Sept. 1, 2018. All projects must be performed on public land or land that is open to the public.
The grants are funded through the U.S. Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry Program.

For a grant application or more information, visit the DNR website www.michigan.gov/ucf, contact Kevin Sayers at 517-284-5898 or sayersk@michigan.gov, or write to DNR Forest Resources Division, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.

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Porcupine Mountains Music Festival -Musical Smorgasbord of Talent

Volunteers welcome music fans to the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in Ontonagon County.10AUG17-Three days packed full of music and fun are scheduled for the 13th annual Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in Ontonagon County.
The festival will be staged Aug. 25th – 27th at the winter recreation area (ski hill) at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, located just west of Silver City.
This event is presented by the Friends of The Porkies, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, which represents all users of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
The festival is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. The festival made state history in 2005 by becoming the first music festival to be held in a Michigan state park.
Staffed by a handful of year-round volunteers and over 120 volunteers throughout the three-day event, the festival places the focus on a wide variety of musical styles such as bluegrass, folk, rock, blues, zydeco, country and more.
The event will be held rain or shine.

Headlining the festival this year are:

Friday, Aug. 25 – The Steel Wheels
Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, The Steel Wheels are familiar with the traditions of folk music and how a string band is supposed to sound, and they’ve been drawing on those steadfast traditions for more than a decade. The Steel Wheels’ style weaves through Americana and bluegrass music, folk and old–time music, and the acoustic poetry of the finest singer-songwriters. This will mark their second time headlining in the Porkies after wowing the audience in 2014.

Saturday, Aug. 26 – David Bromberg Quintet
For Americana godfather David Bromberg, it all began with the blues. His incredible journey spans five-and-a-half decades, and includes – but is not limited to – adventures with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, and music and life lessons from seminal blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, who claimed the young Bromberg as a son. A musician’s musician, Bromberg’s mastery of stringed instruments is legendary, leading Dr. John to declare him an American icon. This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from The Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Crane Group.

Sunday, Aug. 27 – Laney Jones and the Spirits
The enthusiastic and uplifting performance by Laney Jones and the Spirits at last year’s festival was not lost on organizers who have welcomed them back for encore performances, including the festival’s closing set. Laney has amassed honors in esteemed competitions, like the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the NewSong Contest. She has performed on PBS alongside Alison Krauss and received positive press from publications like “No Depression” and “Rolling Stone (“10 New Artists you Need to Know” February 2016). Her music has also been licensed for clients, such as Pixar, Dreamworks and ABC.

Special guests throughout the three-day event include Jalan Crossland, The Accidentals, and Charlie Parr; along with Cale Tyson, Ana Egge & the Sentimentals, The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, Kind Country, K Jones & the Benzie Playboys, The Lucky Dutch, Dave Boutette & Kristi Davis, Paul “Mayo” Mayasich, The Go Rounds, Not Quite Canada, Dede & the Dreamers, The Harmaleighs and Yvonne Blake.
Offering a more laid-back feel is the festival’s acoustic Busking Barn, where amateurs and professionals take the stage and daily jam sessions are held. The festival also offers children’s activities and performer workshops. This year’s workshops include: Saturday, Aug. 26 – Louisiana Dance (Waltz/2-Step) with K Jones and the Benzie Playboys to be held at the Folk School/Old Carpenter Shop; and a Q & A session with legendary performer David Bromberg; Sunday, Aug. 27 – “A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Folk/Blues Guitar,” with Charlie Parr.
Tickets are $90 for a three-day pass, $35 for a single-day pass. Seniors over 60 and teens ages 13-17 receive $5 off regular prices. Tickets for children ages 7-12 are $10 for either a three-day pass or a single day pass. Children 6 and under receive free admission when accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a popular tourist attraction, with a breathtaking 60,000 acres of natural beauty located in Ontonagon and Gogebic counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Ontonagon County is Michigan’s largest by acreage, and is one of the least-densely populated counties in the state; laid back and picturesque, with wondrous natural surroundings. There are more than 40 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, named one of the cleanest beaches in America. The thousands of acres of state and federal land, a community lighthouse, an area rich in mining history and Native American history are all a part of the legacy of the area.
Ontonagon County also boasts Michigan's and the Midwest's largest span of virgin hardwood maple/hemlock forest located within the boundaries of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
For more information regarding the 13th Annual Porcupine Mountains Music Festival, visit www.porkiesfestival.org or call 1-906-231-1589.
For campers with questions on reservations at any of Michigan’s state parks, contact the DNR’s parks call center at 1-800-447-2757 or 1-800-44PARKS.

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Subscribe now.

For more information, visit the DNR’s webpage at: www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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For First Responders, Emergency Medical Training is Crucial

First aid button10AUG17-If there's a medical emergency on the water, in the woods or on the street, don't be surprised if a Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer is first on the scene. As explained in this brief video, conservation officers are not emergency medical technicians (EMTs), but often serve as first responders due to their extensive training, statewide coverage area and fleet of specialized vehicles that enables them to access remote areas.
Recruits in the DNR Conservation Officer Recruit School spent their third week learning basic lifesaving skills, from applying tourniquets to administering CPR. A conservation officer may be confronted with medical issues that include minor cuts, gunshot wounds, broken bones and heart attacks. Keeping a cool head in such stressful situations and knowing how to stabilize a patient are just some of the tremendous responsibilities shouldered by those who wear the green and gray uniform of a Michigan conservation officer.
Fortunately, recruits receive the best training.The DNR’s first aid and trauma program exceeds standards set by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), and its ranks are filled with officers who have actual lifesaving experience.

Overcoming barriers

Watchful eye.HartsigMonday morning set the tone for the week’s lessons. Cpl. Pat McManus, lead first-aid instructor for the DNR Law Enforcement Division, lectured eager recruits on the first-responder role of a conservation officer. In addition to explaining medical issues such as blood-borne pathogens and legal issues such as Michigan’s “Good Samaritan” law, McManus prepared recruits to handle the stress that inevitably comes with responding to medical incidents.
“Conservation officers must deal with situations that might prevent them from taking proper care of the victim,” McManus said. “Their ability to assess the scene, whether it’s a busy highway or a hostile incident in which safety threats remain, is key to successfully rendering the type of aid that is needed. Immediately identifying these factors and managing their own stress levels will help conservation officers overcome such obstacles and treat the victim. The first step is to eliminate any barriers that prevent us from saving lives.”
That’s where the three Cs – check, call, care – come in, according to McManus. Recruits learned to check out the scene and assess the situation, call for assistance, and then care for the victim.
It’s also important for conservation officers to properly support medical personnel once they arrive at the scene. Recruits learned about basic anatomy and the physiology of the human body. They also were taught basic medical terminology that will help them understand instructions from EMTs.

Every minute matters

Learning basics.1Tuesday’s training guided recruits through real-world scenarios. They gained valuable experience by practicing infant, child and adult CPR on mannequins. The session also introduced recruits to the automated external defibrillator (AED), a lifesaving device issued to all Michigan conservation officers.
Some scenarios purposely were designed to be stressful for recruits, catching them off-guard to simulate real-life situations. “You never know when you will be called upon to respond,” McManus said. “Accidents and medical emergencies happen around the clock. It’s our job to be ready.”
The next day, recruits were familiarized with some of the basic lifesaving tools carried by all conservation officers, such as tourniquets, blood-clotting agents and chest seals. The tools are used to treat major bleeding emergencies suffered by officers or their patients. 
The importance of these devices was driven home by Conservation Officer Patrick Hartsig, a former paramedic and a recent recipient of the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Lifesaving Award. “These can save your life or the life of your patient,” Hartsig told recruits. “Quickly stopping bleeding will help prevent shock and loss of life. You must know how to apply them to yourself if you’re injured, not just to your patient. How do you expect to save others if you can’t save yourself?”

Common scenarios

Dealing with trauma.Thursday’s emphasis was on head, neck and back injuries, as well as the right way to bandage and sling broken, sprained or bruised bones and joints. These are skills frequently used during a conservation officer’s career because responding to motor vehicle or ORV accidents is common.
Once it was dark outside, instructors threw recruits a curveball by putting them through a training scenario involving a victim who was shot in the chest. The patient suffered major blood loss and was struggling to breathe. Recruits made use of their DNR-issued first-aid kits and were tested to see if they recognized the need for a chest seal to help the patient breathe and prevent a collapsed lung.

It all comes together

Recruits wrapped up the week with a comprehensive written exam that tested their knowledge of all the information and techniques learned since Monday. These skills will not be allowed to deteriorate. All Michigan conservation officers attend refresher courses on first aid and CPR every year.
With Week 3 in the books, recruits began feeling a little surer of themselves. There are more challenges to come, and mistakes still will be made, but self-confidence throughout the class began building gradually. Can they carry that momentum into Week 4?

Subscribe to the weekly conservation officer academy blog, which also will be posted on the Michigan DNR Facebook page. View previous blogs from Recruit School #8.

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New Exhibit Explores Mystery Behind Copper Country’s 1844 Epidemic

re-creation of a 1800s hospital ward for sick soldiers at Fort Wilkins09AUG17-A new exhibit at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park in Copper Harbor takes visitors into the actual hospital ward where sick soldiers were cared for during a mysterious epidemic there more than 150 years ago. The "Ward Room" exhibit, which opened recently in the park's former U.S. Army post hospital, also looks at the health care methods of that time.
Over the winter of 1844-45, an unknown disease with flu-like symptoms hit the garrison at Fort Wilkins. According to the fort doctor at the time, at least 13 cases were reported, and one soldier eventually died from the disease.
“We were excited to have the opportunity to create a new exhibit focusing on the stories of the epidemic," said Fort Wilkins site historian Barry James. "It allowed us to open a space that the public has never had access to before, the hospital ward where those sickened by the epidemic were treated."
Visitors stepping into the ward room will find patient beds, tables and medical instruments that re-create the original hospital environment. They will meet Charles Isaacs, the fort doctor who worked diligently to heal the infected patients.
“Dr. Isaacs ordered blood-letting and cupping, and prescribed doses of mercury and opium for the sick soldiers,” said James. "It may seem shocking from today’s perspective, but all of these were common treatments of the period.

“Dr. Isaacs recorded everything. He eventually published his findings in the New York Journal of Medicine. We've used a portion of his original research in the new exhibit’s storyline."
Fort Wilkins was built in 1844, during the Keweenaw Copper Rush. In the 1840s, soldiers served to keep law and order in the recently opened copper district. Federal troops occupied the fort from 1844 to 1846, and again after the Civil War, from 1867 to 1870.
As part of its ongoing interpretation of the military post, the Michigan History Center, in cooperation with the Keweenaw National Historical Park Heritage Grant Program, funded the Ward Room exhibit. The Fort Wilkins Natural History Association provided additional support.
Fort Wilkins is a nationally accredited museum located one mile east of Copper Harbor on U.S. 41, in Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. The fort is open daily from May 15 through Oct. 16, 8:30 a.m. to dusk, and admission to the site and exhibition are free. A Recreation Passport is required for park entry. For more information, call 906-475-7857 or visit www.michigan.gov/ftwilkins.

The Michigan History Center is part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its museum and archival programs foster curiosity, enjoyment, and inspiration rooted in Michigan’s stories. It includes the Michigan History Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan.  Learn more at www.michigan.gov/michiganhistory.

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DNR ‘Eyes in the Field’ App for Reporting Fish and Wildlife Sightings

09AUG17-The Department of Natural Resources invites Michigan residents to contribute to conservation efforts by reporting their fish and wildlife observations with the new Eyes in the Field application. Available at michigan.gov/eyesinthefield, the application replaces 15 separate observation forms the DNR had been using to gather important information about the state’s fish and wildlife populations.

“Observation is a key part of managing Michigan’s diverse natural resources, and we rely on the public as additional eyes in the field to help in our monitoring efforts,” said Tom Weston, the DNR’s chief technology officer. “This new application is a one-stop shop where citizen scientists can report what they observe while spending time outdoors.”
Eyes in the Field includes forms for reporting observations of diseased wildlife, tagged fish, mammals such as cougars and feral swine, fish such as sturgeon, birds such as wild turkeys, and reptiles and amphibians such as eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. Additional observation forms will be added in the future.
The application is mobile-friendly, so it will work well on any device – smartphone, tablet or desktop computer – and is compliant with federal Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines.  
To report their data, users select an observation location point on a map and submit other details, including habitat type and appearance of the animal, depending on the type of observation. Observers also can submit photos, videos and audio files through the application.
It's important to note that Eyes in the Field does not replace the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline (800-292-7800). The RAP hotline – now accepting text messages, which may include photos, in addition to telephone calls – is a toll-free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week number that enables the public to report violations of fish and game laws, as well as other natural resource-related laws. The DNR also offers a web-based RAP form, which is available via a link from Eyes in the Field.

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August is Tree Check Month

Check trees for signs of the invasive Asian longhorned beetle

09AUG17-The U.S Department of Agriculture has declared August as national Tree Check Month – time to be on the lookout for invasive, destructive pests threatening Michigan’s urban and forest landscapes. 
The Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources are asking people to take just 10 minutes this month to check trees around homes for Asian long-horned beetle or any signs of the damage it causes.

Asian longhorned beetleWhat do they look like?

Adult Asian long-horned beetles are distinctively large, ranging from three-quarters of an inch to 1 1/2 inches in length, not including their long antennae. The beetles are shiny black, with random white blotches or spots, and their antennae have alternating black and white segments. They have six legs that can be black or partly blue, with blue coloration sometimes extending to their feet.

Where are they found?

The Asian long-horned beetle was first identified in the United States in 1996, likely transported from Asia in wood packing materials. To date, there are no known infestations of Asian long-horned beetle in Michigan. However, the beetle has been found in areas of Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Toronto, Ontario. 
“Though the beetle does not move long distances on its own, it can be transported in firewood,” said John Bedford, Pest Response Program specialist at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “When traveling, leave your firewood at home. Buy it at your destination point and burn it there.” 

Why be concerned?

Like the emerald ash borer, the Asian long-horned beetle spends most of its life cycle eating its way through the insides of trees. What makes this beetle much more dangerous is that it feeds on a wide variety of tree species. Its first choice is maple, but it also will infest birch, elm, willow, buckeye, horse chestnut and other hardwoods. Trees infested with Asian longhorned beetle must be destroyed to prevent the insect from spreading.  

Asian longhorned beetle exit holes, compared to the size of a dimeWhat should you look for?

Adult beetles are active in late summer to early fall. Female beetles chew depressions in tree trunks and branches to lay eggs. When larvae hatch, they burrow deep into the heartwood of the tree, creating large chambers in the wood. The next summer, fully formed adult beetles emerge from trees by boring perfectly round, three-eighths-inch-diameter exit holes. Sometimes a material resembling wood shavings can be seen at or below these holes or coming from cracks in an infested tree’s bark.

Look-alikes

Several native beetles and bugs often are mistaken for the Asian long-horned beetle.

bulletThe white spotted pine sawyer has a distinctive white spot below the base of its head – between its wings – and is brownish in color. 
bulletThe cottonwood borer is about the same size as the Asian long-horned beetle and also black and white – but the cottonwood borer has a pattern of single, broad black stripes down each wing, and its antennae are all dark. 
bulletThe northeastern pine sawyer reaches up to 2 inches in length, has very long antennae and is gray in color. 
bulletThe eastern eyed click beetle has distinctive eye-circles on the back of its head.  It rolls over when threatened, then clicks and makes a flipping movement to get back on its feet.

Anyone observing an Asian long-horned beetle, or a tree that appears to have been damaged by it, is asked to report it. If possible, capture the beetle in a jar, take photos, record the location, and report it as soon as possible to the USDA at www.asianlonghornedbeetle.com or contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or MDA-info@michigan.gov.

More information can be found on the Michigan Invasive Species website’s Asian longhorned beetle page.

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Have You Encountered the Red Swamp Crayfish in Michigan?

New video gives tips on identification

still image from video on identifying red swamp crayfishIn July, the Department of Natural Resources confirmed the presence of invasive red swamp crayfish in Novi and near Kalamazoo. These two locations represent the first detections of live red swamp crayfish in Michigan.

Why be concerned?

Though they are native to southern states, red swamp crayfish are considered invasive in Michigan because they compete aggressively with native crayfish species for food and habitat. They feed on plants, insects, snails, juvenile fish and other crayfish, disrupting the food chain for many aquatic species.

Of greatest concern is their habit of burrowing deep into banks, causing damage to dams, irrigation systems and shorelines.

What is being done? 

Since the initial reports, DNR staff have been setting traps in nearby lakes and ponds to remove the crayfish and determine the extent of the infestations at both locations. At the same time, staff are following up on reports from concerned citizens who believe they may have seen or found red swamp crayfish at other places across the state.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has created a new video to help people identify and report red swamp crayfish. The video is the third in the department’s MDEQ Minute series, offering 60-second views on a broad range of topics including new and potential invasive species in Michigan.

What can you do?

If you find a red swamp crayfish, photograph it and send the photo, date and location of the find to herbsts1@michigan.gov.

For more information about red swamp crayfish and other invasive species of concern in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.    

Help spread the word

bulletShare this email and video link with others: neighborhood and lake associations, friends and family, etc.  If sharing on social media, please use the tag #NotMiSpecies
bulletVisit Michigan's invasive species website and learn more about what to watch for and how to respond.
bulletBelieve that you can make a difference, and remember these easy tips

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It’s Your Year to Hunt for Grouse and Woodcock

close-up of a 2017 green hunting license08AUG17-With grouse and woodcock hunting season openers just around the corner, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that now is the time to make plans to spend some days in the woods.
“This is your year for a fall adventure,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “The 18 GEMS across the Upper and northern Lower Peninsula are waiting for you and your shotgun to flush a few birds.”
GEMS (Grouse Enhanced Management Sites) are large blocks of land, open to hunting, that have hunter walking trails winding throughout. The sites are managed to have young timber, which makes them ideal places to hunt and see wildlife due to the thick cover and great food sources provided.
“Michigan is nationally known for great ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting, but with millions of acres of public land to explore, hunters might not know how to get started,” Stewart said. “GEMS are great places to begin.”

Preseason planning is the best way for hunters to maximize their days in the field, said Stewart, who offered some tips:

bulletVisit mi.gov/gems for an interactive map, more information about individual GEMS and custom maps.
 
bulletPick out a GEMS location or two you want to visit, and use the GPS points or general directions and a county atlas to get a feel for the area.  
 
bulletPrint off the GEMS maps or save them to your phone.
 
bulletMake sure you have your hunting license. To hunt grouse and woodcock in Michigan, you need a base license. To target woodcock, you also need a free woodcock stamp. Everything can be purchased online at E-License or at one of the many license agents across the state.
 
bulletDrive to the GEMS informational parking area and get your bearings. At the kiosk, read about grouse and woodcock, timber activity and the acres of land nearby that you can hunt. Note that there are businesses (listed on the kiosk and at mi.gov/gems) that offer a great discount because they support GEMS.
 
bulletGet out and explore.
 
bulletRepeat, and take others with you.
 

GEMS locations mapMichigan’s grouse season runs Sept. 15 to Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 to Jan. 1. Woodcock are a migratory bird and have an abbreviated season, September 23rd to November Sixth. 
 

Millions of acres are open to public hunting in Michigan and there are many more locations to hunt beyond GEMS. Use mi.gov/mihunt, an interactive map application, to plan adventures anywhere across the state.
 

If you have questions or need assistance, call a DNR Customer Service Center or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at DNR-Wildlife@michigan.gov.



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Public to Shape Fayette Historic State Park Draft GM Plan Via Online

Village of Fayette08AUG17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on the development of a new general management plan to guide the future of Fayette Historic State Park. The public is invited to share their opinions and ideas for the park via an online survey available through Monday, September 11th at michigan.gov/fayette.
The 711-acre state park is located on the shores of Big Bay De Noc on the Garden Peninsula, 35 miles southwest of Manistique. The park features a historic townsite that was once a bustling iron smelting industrial community surrounding Snail Shell Harbor. More than 20 historic buildings and a visitors center provide opportunities for visitors to learn about life in a 19th-century industrial town through interpretation provided by the Michigan Historical Center. The park also is home to a modern campground, a newly renovated public harbor with 15 transient slips, boat launch, beach and five miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing that feature impressive views from the limestone cliffs that surround the harbor.
The general management plan for Fayette Historic State Park will define a long-range (10- to 20-year) planning and management strategy that will assist the DNR Parks and Recreation Division in meeting its responsibilities to 1) protect and preserve the site’s natural and cultural resources, and 2) provide access to land- and water-based public recreation and educational opportunities.

This survey is one of several opportunities for the public and stakeholders to be involved in the planning process and development of the draft general management plan. The DNR also will host a public open house in spring 2018, which will provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the draft plan.

Additional information on the DNR’s General Management Plan process is available at www.michigan.gov/parkmanagementplans.

For more information about the Fayette Historic State Park online survey or the proposed plan, contact DNR Grants Coordinator and Lands Liaison Matt Lincoln at 517-284-6111 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired) or lincolnm@michigan.gov.

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Oakland County Educator Goes from Back Injury to Biking Across Michigan and the Iron Belle Trail

07AUG17-Who says you never have to learn how to ride a bike a second time?
Sharon Crain of Waterford, Michigan, knows firsthand that is not always the case. A couple years ago Crain, 51, and an educator for more than 25 years, had a nearly debilitating back injury.
“The injury was so severe,” she said. “Being mobile is everything in life to me.”

woman and man wearing helmets, holding up their bikesAfter discovering the source of pain and going through rehabilitation, Crain found a new purpose in life. This summer, part of that purpose will be to ride hundreds of miles of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail in the Upper Peninsula and, if all goes as planned, raise $6,000 to help purchase bicycles for kids in need.
“I kind of want to pay it forward,” she said. “I ride with no pain now. I know having a healthy, strong body breeds a healthy state of mind. If we can teach kids at the youngest age that, it benefits everyone.”
Crain, who is an instructional technologist for Clarkston Community Schools, fell on April Fool’s Day three years ago and broke her wrist. She didn’t realize it right away, but also suffered a herniated disc.
“It left me where I could barely move,” she said.
Crain went through 12 weeks of therapy and three injections to alleviate the pain. Now, she walks, goes rock climbing, has entered multiple fitness challenges and, of course, rides bikes. The rides started on the back roads of Clarkston and led to longer, organized community rides across the state.

“I was always active, an outdoor enthusiast,” she said. “I did things, but nothing like I do today. I’m stronger. I’m more vibrant than I’ve ever been. I’m grateful.”
Originally from Bridgman, Michigan, near the Indiana border, Crain has planned for three separate weekends on the Upper Peninsula stretch of the Iron Belle Trail – the longest state-designated trail in the nation. She and riding partner Jeff Ring plan to ride about 110 miles each weekend. The ride will start in St. Ignace and end in Ironwood. They completed the first 100-mile-plus leg the weekend of July 29th - 30th.
Along the way, Crain and Ring are working with the private, nonprofit organization Oakland Family Services to find kids that currently do not have bikes. Oakland Family Services will purchase bikes from Back Alley Bikes in Detroit, a nonprofit community bike shop that provides cycling education for youths.
“Buying the used bikes from Back Alley Bikes allows us to support an additional charity while obtaining bikes at a discount compared to new bikes,” she said. “Again, this will allow us to distribute more bikes to more children. We want to get bikes into the hands of more kids.”
The Iron Belle Trail encompasses more than 2,000 miles of Michigan on hiking and biking trails, stretching from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. The 791-mile bicycle route traverses urban areas near Detroit and winds across the eastern side of Michigan to Mackinaw City and across U.S. Route 2 in the Upper Peninsula. The trail allows hikers and riders a chance to explore pristine forests, cool rivers, big cities and diverse towns. It crosses 48 counties and hundreds of municipalities around the state.
Crain said the bike ride in the U.P. is her goal this summer but there is plenty more riding in her future.
“You just never know,” she said. “Having the ability to just do daily functions and being mobile is really big for me. I don’t ever want to be in that position again.
“My injury really forced me to enjoy life – to value what’s really important. Life is about relationships and enjoying the time we have. In the blink of an eye our mobility can be taken away. The injury made me take a deep breath and change my life. … I’m looking forward to this new challenge.”

To help Crain and Ring raise money for the ride, they have created a GoFundMe page.

For more on the Iron Belle Trail or to view an interactive map of the trail, visit www.michigan.gov/ironbelle.

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Officer Recruit School-Driven to succeed

Week 2: July 23-29, 2017

Driving blog graphic04AUG17-Week 2 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Recruit School introduced recruits to the basics of precision driving. It was the most adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding training the class received to date, as this short video shows.
As fully commissioned Michigan peace officers, DNR conservation officers must have what it takes to effectively and safely use their patrol vehicles when responding to medical emergencies or crimes in progress and initiating suspect pursuits. Recruits quickly learned that operating law enforcement vehicles requires a lot of skill – and carries tremendous responsibilities.

Realities of the road

The day’s physical training had a unique twist. Recruits carried canoes filled with water bottles, which simulate the added weight of gear. Conservation officers often use canoes for patrol and getting a canoe to the water often means it must be carried over long distances and obstacles. Incorporating the canoes into the day’s physical training helps recruits build the skills needed to conduct these patrols.

DNR truck precision drivingAfter the morning routine of physical training, breakfast and inspections, recruits on Monday reported to the drive track for an introduction to precision driving. Forget the wild, over-the-top vehicle chases shown on TV crime dramas.
“Driving is extremely important because it’s what officers do more than anything else in the course of their daily duties,” Detective Elton Luce III, emergency vehicle operation instructor, told his class. “It is also one of the largest potential concerns for liability. Most officer-involved traffic crashes happen in normal, routine driving situations, not in pursuits or emergency runs. Police officers are held to a higher standard than civilian drivers, so extensive training is a must.”
Recruits were instructed on legal issues pertaining to the operation of police vehicles. They also were introduced to the Dodge Chargers they will use for their Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) evaluations. Because conservation officers drive trucks rather than cars, recruits will drive a portion of the course with DNR trucks after earning their 40-hour precision driving certification.    

Strong nerves and stomachs

Learning precision driving
Tuesday’s emergency vehicle operation session was the start of a major test for recruits. They began driving drills that demand an impressive range of knowledge, not to mention strong nerves and stomachs as some of the exercises were done at high speeds. An understanding of the physics of motion, knowing a vehicle’s capabilities and design, and being able to “read the road” are the foundations of proper emergency vehicle driving techniques.



Conservation officers will be called upon to safely operate a vehicle on all types of terrain, regardless of whether it is day or night, and in all kinds of weather conditions. Their ability to handle such situations is groomed on the academy drive track. Navigating sharp corners, learning when to accelerate and decelerate, and maneuvering between strategically placed cones were among the challenges confronting recruits.

 

Hitting the skids

Checking tire pressureOn Wednesday recruits hit the skids, but that was by design. The “skid pad” exercise required recruits to maintain control of their vehicles while hydroplaning on a watered-down surface. The class also got to open things up a bit by putting the patrol vehicles through full “hot laps,” in which recruits used all techniques learned earlier in the week to complete the course.

Night driving

After an already full day Thursday, recruits continued with their driving instruction into the evening. The goal was to help them master the necessary skills to pursue suspect vehicles at night. The class found how difficult it is to navigate the same course with little or no ambient light. The training also emphasized the use of radios. Recruits were required to use their radios to communicate with the dispatch center, a critical skill as conservation officers often work at night.

Cool down

The written final exam came Friday. Recruits were tested on all topics covered during the week. A lot was learned since they first reported to the drive track Monday. Perhaps the most important lesson is that there’s no place for recklessness behind the wheel. A conservation officer is in total control of his or her vehicle at all times, regardless of how police chases are portrayed by Hollywood.

Unlike their first few days at the academy, week 2 sped by for recruits – literally.

Subscribe to the weekly conservation officer academy blog, which also will be posted on the Michigan DNR Facebook page. View previous blogs from Recruit School #8.

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DNR Conservation Officers Seek Tips on Tuscola County Deer Poaching

Citizens asked to share any information on illegally killed bucks

03AUG17-Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are investigating the illegal killing of two male deer in Tuscola County, and ask anyone with information to report it.
Conservation officers last night (Aug. 1) found the remains of two bucks – an 8-point and a 9-point – in a ditch near the intersection of M-25 and Clark Road in Akron Township. The antlers of both bucks were still in full velvet, which is a vascular skin that bucks will begin shedding in the fall.
“Not only is this a crime, but it’s a tremendous waste of two beautiful animals,” said Lt. Jeremy Payne, District 6 supervisor for the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Any tips from the public will help significantly as we investigate this case. For example, if anyone saw flashlights being shined or deer in the back of a truck, we would like to know. Poaching is criminal and unethical, and the DNR wants to work with citizens to protect Michigan’s natural resources.”
Poaching an antlered white-tailed deer is a misdemeanor punishable by fines of $1,000, reimbursement of $1,000 per animal and $500 for each antler point on deer with antlers having between 8 and 10 points.

An individual offering information that leads to a successful conviction may be eligible for a reward through the Report All Poaching (RAP) program.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call or text the RAP line at 800-292-7800. While citizens can remain anonymous, they must provide their names if they wish to be eligible for a reward. The RAP line is a convenient, effective way for citizens to report the illegal taking of fish or game, or damage to the state's natural resources. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Michigan’s hunting season calendar provides the dates during which deer hunting is permitted.

Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace officers with authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. The current class of recruits is undergoing the third week of rigorous tranining in the DNR's 23-week Conservation Officer Academy. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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Waterfowl Hunt Applications on Sale Now Through August 28th

two male waterfowl hunters with harvested ducks and hunting dog04AUG17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that waterfowl reserved hunt applications are available now through August 28th.
To apply for reserved hunts on certain managed waterfowl areas, visit a license agent or www.mdnr-elicense.com. Applications are $5, and hunters may apply only once. Drawing results will be posted September 18th.
Reserved hunts will be held both mornings and afternoons of the opening weekend of waterfowl hunting season at Fish Point State Wildlife Area, Harsens Island and Shiawassee River State Game Area, and morning-only reserved goose hunts will be held at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.
The maximum party size is four hunters. For morning hunts and the second-day hunts, successful applicants must have appropriate licenses and stamps and be accompanied by one to three other appropriately licensed hunters. Youth have a special opportunity because the opening-day afternoon hunts are for those 16 and younger. Successful applicants for the opening-day afternoon hunts can have up to two adults 18 years of age or older with appropriate licenses accompanying.

For more information about waterfowl hunting, visit www.michigan.gov/waterfowl.

Hunters have an additional opportunity to participate in a reserved waterfowl hunt by applying for the 2018 Pure Michigan Hunt drawing. Each application is $5, and hunters may apply as many times as they like until Dec. 31, 2017. Three lucky winners will receive a hunt package that includes reserved waterfowl, elk, bear, turkey and antlerless deer licenses. For more information, visit the Pure Michigan Hunt website.

Michigan’s managed waterfowl areas offer first-class waterfowl hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. Visit the DNR website to learn more about Michigan’s Wetland Wonders.

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Governor Rick Snyder Announces Invasive Carp Challenge

02AUG17- Today Gov. Rick Snyder announced that the Invasive Carp Challenge is now accepting proposals for innovative methods to prevent invasive (or Asian) carp from entering the Great Lakes.

“Invasive carp pose a serious and growing threat to the economy and ecology of our Great Lakes,” Snyder said. “The Invasive Carp Challenge will tap into the creativity and expertise of the entrepreneurial community to find the best ways to protect Michigan’s most prized natural resource.”

On June 22nd, an eight-pound silver carp was captured beyond the electric barrier, just nine miles from Lake Michigan. Michigan continues to seek to work cooperatively with other states and Canadian provinces to keep silver and bighead carp – two species of invasive carp – from entering the Great Lakes.

The Invasive Carp Challenge is designed to tap into the creative minds of people around the world to join the government and research community in enhancing existing research and tools while developing new, innovative solutions. The challenge will accept solutions in any phase of development, from concept to design to field-tested models, specifically aimed at preventing invasive carp movement into the Great Lakes. 
Written proposals will be accepted online through InnoCentive’s Challenge Center through Oct. 31, 2017. One or more solutions will share up to $700,000 in cash awards provided by the State of Michigan. Once registered, solvers can see a detailed description of the challenge, review existing deterrent technologies for invasive carp and submit their proposed solutions.

Learn more about the Invasive Carp Challenge by visiting: www.michigan.gov/carpchallenge.

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Appeals Court Maintains Federal Protections for Wolves

Rejects Premature Effort to Remove Federal Protections for Wolves

01AUG17-Washington D.C. — The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that vacated a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The ruling maintains federal protections for wolves and blocks the states from asserting control and opening up sport hunting and commercial trapping seasons targeting the animals.

The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of wildlife protection groups, including Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live, and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, brought the lawsuit against the USFWS’s premature December 2011 delisting decision. The agency’s decision, which was overturned by the D.C. District Court in 2014, threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining current wolf populations to a small pockets of their former range.  State officials in the Great Lakes region have expressed their intention to engage in reckless killing programs that would threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.
 

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said, “A federal appeals court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed. Congress should respect the ruling relating to the management of wolves in the Great Lakes and allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to re-examine the broader conservation questions raised by the courts.”
In its ruling, the court chided the USFWS for taking a piecemeal approach to wolf recovery and “call[ing] it quits” too early.  The court noted that “…when a species is already listed, the Service cannot review a single segment with blinders on, ignoring the continuing [imperilment] status of the species’ remnant.”
Following federal delisting, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan rushed to institute trophy hunting and commercial trapping programs for wolves – exposing them to non-selective killing for the first time in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps, producing a body count of about 1,500 wolves over two hunting seasons. 
The Michigan legislature also passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. However, in response to a referendum campaign launched by The HSUS and other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, voters in Michigan soundly rejected sport hunting of wolves in a 2014 election in two separate referendums.
The States of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and trophy hunting groups participated in the rulemaking process and also in this extensive the litigation in the courts, but they are now seeking assistance from Congress to legislatively remove wolves from the endangered species list.  Wildlife conservation decisions should not be left to the whims of politicians, and the federal courts are quite clear on what’s required of the agency in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act.  The court’s ruling requires that the USFWS re-engage stakeholders in a regulatory process that gives full effect to the purposes of the Endangered Species Act and addresses wolf recovery in a robust and depoliticized process.
The plaintiffs in the Great Lakes lawsuit were represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section. 

Great Lakes Wolves – ESA Listing Timeline

March 9, 1978 – Gray wolf listed as endangered throughout lower 48 states, except in Minnesota, where it was listed as threatened

August 10, 1983 – Original § 4(d) rule for Minnesota (48 Fed. Reg. 36,256)

December 12, 1985 – Revised § 4(d) rule for Minnesota, allowing only “designated employees” or agents of MN DNR to take or kill depredating wolves without a permit, and requiring that all such taking be done in a humane manner (50 Fed. Reg. 50,792)

April 1, 2003 – FWS publishes a final rule downlisting wolves from endangered to threatened in Eastern and Western DPSs and retaining endangered status for wolves in Southwestern DPS, and publishes a final § 4(d) rule allowing lethal depredation control activities in these regions

January 31, 2005 – Federal District Court in Oregon vacates April 1, 2003 downlisting rule (holding that FWS downlisted vast areas without correctly applying the ESA listing factors, in violation of the ESA and the FWS’s own DPS Policy)

August 19, 2005 – Federal District Court in Vermont vacates April 1, 2003 downlisting rule (holding that the rule does not comply with the ESA, the FWS’s own DPS Policy, or the notice and comment provisions of the APA)

April 1, 2005 – FWS issues § 10(a)(1)(A) permits to Wisconsin and Michigan to conduct lethal depredation control activities (the permits were vacated by the Federal District Court in Washington, DC based on violation of APA notice and comment requirements on September 13, 2005, but the states applied again and the permits were granted again on April 24, 2006)

August 9, 2006 – Federal District Court in Washington, DC enjoins Wisconsin § 10(a)(1)(A) permit; FWS revokes Michigan permit shortly thereafter (481 F. Supp. 2d 53)

February 8, 2007 – FWS publishes a final rule delisting wolves in Great Lakes DPS

September 29, 2008 – Federal District Court in Washington, DC vacates February 8, 2007 delisting rule (holding that FWS failed to explain how its decision to create a DPS in order to remove all ESA protections from that population comports with the policy objectives of the ESA)

April 2, 2009 – FWS publishes a final rule delisting wolves in Great Lakes DPS

July 2, 2009 – Federal District Court in Washington, DC issues order incorporating settlement agreement pursuant to which the FWS must withdraw the April 2, 2009 delisting rule (the FWS agreed that it had violated APA notice and comment requirements in issuing the April 2, 2009 rule)

December 28, 2011 – FWS publishes a final rule delisting wolves in Great Lakes DPS

December 19, 2014 – Federal District Court in Washington, DC vacates December 28, 2011 delisting rule (holding: DPS designation can only be used to increase protections; FWS was not simply revising an existing listing; FWS impermissibly failed to address historical range loss; and FWS failed to adequately consider the threats of disease, threats of human-caused mortality, and the insufficiency of state regulatory measures).

August 1, 2017 – Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit affirms judgment vacating the December 28, 2011 final rule (holding that FWS fatally failed to reasonably analyze or consider the impacts of partial delisting to the remaining portion of the species, and the impacts of historical range loss).

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DNR Accepting Pre-proposals for Aquatic Habitat Improvement Grants

31JUL17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced it is seeking pre-proposals for the next round of funding for the Aquatic Habitat Grant Program. This program is focused on funding projects that either protect intact aquatic habitat or rehabilitate degraded aquatic habitat.
There is $1.25 million available for this year’s program. Funded projects will emphasize the rehabilitation of degraded aquatic resources; development of self-sustaining aquatic communities that provide for continuing recreation opportunities and natural resource-based economies; and development of strong relationships, partnerships and new expertise with respect to aquatic habitat protection and recovery. Projects can address issues on rivers, lakes or the Great Lakes.
Funding is available to local, state, federal and tribal governments and nonprofit groups, for single- and multiple-year projects through an open competitive process. Minimum grant amounts will be set at $25,000 with the maximum amount being the amount of funds available for the grant cycle. Smaller projects within the same watershed addressing similar issues and system processes can be bundled into a single grant proposal package in order to reach minimum grant amount requirements, if necessary.
All applicants must complete and submit a three-page pre-proposal for review by the DNR’s Fisheries Division. Pre-proposals must be emailed no later than August 28th. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their pre-proposal by September 29th and, if successful, will be invited to submit a full application. An invitation to submit a full application does not guarantee project funding.

This grant program is funded by revenues from fishing and hunting license fees. The detailed program handbook (including timeline) and pre-proposal guidelines and forms are available at michigan.gov/dnr-grants.

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Showcasing the DNR: Studying Michigan’s Massasauga Rattlesnakes

By BOB GWIZDZ
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A massasauga rattlesnake held in the hands of a researcher.28JUL17-If any creatures ever needed better public relations, it would be snakes.
They have been vilified since the earliest of Bible tales, and their overall reputation hasn’t improved markedly since.
But there are plenty of people who have more respect for snakes – especially those species not well-regarded.
In fact, Michigan has become an important laboratory for the study and preservation of one of them, the eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous viper that inhabits the state.
Massasauga rattlesnakes were listed as a federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2016 and are thereby protected animals.
By rattlesnake standards, Massasauga rattlers are small, averaging about 2 feet long as adults, reaching a maximum of about 30 inches.
The term “massasauga” means “great river mouth” in the Ojibwe language and was likely given to these snakes because of the places the pit vipers are found.
They inhabit wetlands and feed upon small mammals such as mice and voles, frogs, and other snakes. They are ambush predators, remaining motionless and striking when they detect prey through heat, sound, motion or odor. They inject venom that destroys tissue and incapacitates the prey.

Eastern Massauagas range from southern Ontario to Missouri and from central New York to eastern Iowa. There are a couple of subspecies found in the American southwest and into Mexico.
“Massasaugas are rare in Michigan, though more common than in most other parts of their range,” said Tom Goniea, a fisheries biologist and herptile expert with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “There are records of their existence in every county of the Lower Peninsula.

Check out a cool DNR video on Massasauga rattlesnakes at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PFnXe_e02w

Tom Goniea, a fisheries biologist and herptile expert with the Michigan DNR, holds a massasauga rattlesnake with a snake stick.“They’ve never been found on the mainland of the Upper Peninsula, though they have been found on Bois Blanc Island, which is in Mackinac County,” Goniea said. “Like all reptiles and amphibians, they were once more widespread and numerous throughout the state than they are today.”
Habitat destruction and persecution have led to their decline.
“They’re really rare; very few people will ever encounter these animals in the wild,” Goniea said. “They’re pretty docile, not a particularly aggressive animal. In my 14 years as herptile specialist with the DNR Fisheries Division, I’ve averaged being notified of less than one bite a year.”
Rattlesnake bites, while rare in Michigan, can and do occur. Many bites are the result of people handling them, though people walking though tall grass in rattlesnake habitat near and around wetlands without adequate footwear or long pants could potentially be bitten.
Snakebites are less likely to occur when following some basic safety precautions (find out more at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/emr/safety.cfm). Anyone who has been bitten should seek immediate medical attention.

“They can only strike about one-third to one-half their body length, which for a typical Michigan rattlesnake is 8 to 15 inches, so a person has to get really close to be in any danger,” Goniea said. “They are not going to lunge out and bite you from several feet away.”
There are no records of fatalities in Michigan since the post-World War II era that Goniea knows about.
Other snakes are often misidentified as Massasaugas.
“Probably 95 percent of the calls we get from people who are sure they have a Massasauga are verified with pictures as something else,” Goniea said.
Much of the focus of Massasauga rattlesnake study in Michigan is at the Edward Lowe Foundation property in Cass County, where a viable population of the creatures inhabits the wetlands.
Mike McCuistion, vice president of physical resources at the foundation in Cass County, said staffers have found dead rattlesnakes on the roads of the property over the years, and because “conservation is part of the foundation’s charter,” the foundation decided to investigate them.
The foundation engaged a student studying reptiles to survey the area. He found one.
Later, a graduate student's research involved studying how fire – such as controlled burns – impacted the snakes. He used the Lowe property as his control (non-burned) area, and he found a number of the rattlesnakes.
That information allowed the foundation to conduct controlled burns without affecting the snakes.

Massasauga rattlesnakes are found in wetland areas in Michigan.“We know where the snakes are and we know where the hibernacula (hibernation locations) are,” McCuistion said. “We can burn when the snakes are hibernating.”
The presence of the rattlesnakes inspired the foundation to get involved with the snake’s Species Survival Plan. The plan, largely a function of zoos and aquariums, is sort of an insurance policy for species – should they ever disappear.
Zoos that have Massasauga rattlesnakes have been selectively breeding them for genetic diversity. These zoos would have a population of the snakes available.
The Lowe foundation agreed to host the annual meeting of the Species Survival Plan nine years ago in exchange for team’s cooperation in surveying the grounds annually for the snakes.
“The nice thing about this population is that it’s centrally located in massasauga range,” McCuistion said.
Over the course of the last seven years, the surveyors have identified more than 800 individual Massasaugas on the property, with a stable population of about 150 adults.
Specimens are collected, aged, sexed, measured, weighed and photographed. Adults are implanted with PIT (passive integrated transponder) tags and all are returned to where they were found. The tags identify the snakes individually.

Penny Felski, herptile manager at the Buffalo Zoo and a member of the Special Survival Plan team, has been on every survey at the Lowe property since they started.
“The Buffalo Zoo has been working with this species since the 1960s, but our first successful breeding was in 2012,” Felski said. “It took a while to figure out the husbandry.”The massasauga rattlesnake is Michigan’s only poisonous snake

Essentially, when potential mates are selected, the snakes are introduced in the fall and kept together until breeding has been witnessed. Young are born live the next summer. The female at the Buffalo Zoo has produced 13 offspring over the years. All are now at other zoos.
Eric Hileman, who recently earned his doctorate degree from Northern Illinois University for his work on eastern Massasaugas and is now a quantitative biologist at Trent University in Ontario, said roughly 70 percent of adult massasaugas survive annually, but only 38 percent of newborns (neonates) survive their first year.
“I think freezing over the winter is the big problem,” Hileman said. “They don’t know how to do it.”
Unlike many other rattlesnakes, Massasaugas hibernate alone, often using crayfish burrows for hibernacula.
Hileman said Massasaugas have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity, which is up to 30 percent longer than they live in the wild.
For more information on the threatened status of the Massasauga or for frequently asked questions about the listing, please visit the US Fish and Wildlife Service Massasauga information page at https://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/reptiles/eama/index.html

Identification and life history information, as well as snake safety tips, can be found at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory Massasauga rattlesnake information page http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/emr/index.cfm.

To report sightings and learn more about the Massasauga, please visit the Michigan DNR’s page on the species at http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201-32995--,00.html.

Learn more by about Michigan's snake species by watching our "60-Second Snakes" videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz5W-co6itw&index=2&list=PLAt8-P23ZJgvCQGGbnCtdUfRYbqiws-F6.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles at www.michigan.gov/dnrstories.

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Habitat Projects Benefit Pollinating Insects Throughout Michigan

monarch butterfly on pink milkweed flower27JUL17-Pollinators, such as the monarch butterfly and the rusty patched bumble bee (listed in March as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), recently have made headlines due to declining populations, primarily from habitat loss. These insects play a critical role in the ecosystem, as well as people’s lives, and human intervention is needed to help keep these pollinator populations abundant and healthy.
Grasslands, vitally important to many species including pollinators, have become increasingly rare.
“Making sure pollinators have habitat that supports milkweed and other native, flowering plants is important to preserving these key species,” said Dan Kennedy, endangered species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Through several habitat enhancement projects, the DNR – along with many partners, organizations and volunteers – is working to increase habitat for pollinators in Michigan. 
In southeastern Michigan, DNR staff is seeding wildflowers on 7.5 acres at the Shiawassee River State Game Area in Saginaw County to help restore pollinator habitat. Complementing this project, grassland habitat adjacent to this site is being enhanced for pheasants, which also will benefit pollinators. On the southwestern side of the state, in Barry County’s Barry State Game Area, there are several sites scheduled this fall for work that will help a number of grassland species, including pollinators.

In addition to the DNR’s efforts, many other organizations are supporting projects to improve pollinator habitat in Michigan. In June, TransCanada partnered with the Save Our Monarchs Foundation and many volunteers to plant 6,000 native wildflowers around TransCanada’s Woolfolk Gas Plant in Big Rapids, Michigan. As part of their Pollinator Pathway Initiative, TransCanada and the Save Our Monarchs Foundation planted 40 different native wildflowers and grasses at this habitat restoration site. Currently, 4,000 acres already are being utilized as pollinator habitat. This fall, the organizations will continue their plan to seed an additional 7,000 acres across other TransCanada rights-of-way with native wildflowers.
The DNR also offers grant funding for wildlife habitat projects. See the wide range of wildlife habitat projects happening around the state with this interactive map
Even for those who don’t have a large amount of land, there are ways to create habitat that helps pollinators. More information about creating habitat for pollinators, like the monarch, is available on the Monarch Joint Venture page. Other helpful resources include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's steps for building a pollinator garden and the Michigan State University Extension’s Pollinators & Pollination page, which also offers information on gardening for pollinators.
Additionally, citizens can help inform conservation decisions in Michigan by reporting monarch sightings at the Journey North webpage and bumble bee sightings at Bumble Bee Watch.

Find out more about what ways to help pollinators in Michigan by visiting mi.gov/wildlife and clicking on the Monarchs in Michigan box.

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DNR Sends Firefighters to BC Canada as Part of an International Crew

Fire Plane27JUL17-Firefighters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are joining international crews this week to battle wildfires raging in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. According to the British Columbia Wildfire Service, more than 930,000 acres have burned since April 1st.
Eight Michigan firefighters will join two, 20-person international teams that also include staff from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario. They’re slated to spend two weeks in British Columbia, working up to 16-hour days.
The DNR regularly cooperates with other agencies to help put out fires across North America. In addition to the Canadian wildfires, the DNR has sent two engines with six crew members to Montana, and six new crew members will rotate in this week. An interagency crew also is expected to return soon from Montana.
Additional Michigan fire resources also have been sent to fire efforts in Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada and Washington state so far this year.
Pete Glover recently came back from Arizona, where he worked as a division supervisor on two separate fires near Prescott and White River. He led crews of 100 to 150 people at a time, using various types of equipment to work fire lines that stretched up to several miles long.
Glover said the out-of-state assignments provide valuable experience for Michigan firefighters, who learn how different terrain, fuel and weather can affect the way a fire burns.

“The more you do something, the better you become at it,” he said. “It makes you more proficient when the time comes to protect your own lands and your own people.”
Steve Cameron recently worked on the Rooster Comb fire near Nevada’s Battle Mountain, which burned more than 200,000 acres of grass and brush earlier this month.
“It’s historic. Firefighters that live here and are working say they haven’t seen it like this,” Cameron said. “This year is going to be an exceptional year for fires out west, and participation is definitely needed.”
Even when the DNR has crews in other states, there are plenty of firefighters still in place to battle any fires that might break out at home.
“Of course our involvement depends on the activity here in Michigan,” Glover said.
When crews are sent on out-of-state assignments, the DNR is fully reimbursed for all costs associated with the support.

For more information about the DNR’s fire management efforts, visit www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.

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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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