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Updated 09/17/20



Midyear Update on Confirmed Cougar Reports

Cougar 1

17SEP20-No matter what you call them – pumas, panthers, mountain lions or cougars – these mysterious mammals, and suspected sightings of them, get people talking. The DNR wants residents to know the department is listening and keeping a careful eye on where cougars reportedly are turning up.

This year, the DNR has six confirmed reports of cougars in Michigan, all in the Upper Peninsula: one each in Chippewa, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft counties and three in Delta County. In February, DNR Wildlife Division staff confirmed two of those reports after finding cougar tracks while conducting the U.P. winter wolf track survey. Four additional sightings were confirmed after residents submitted trail camera photos of cougars.

a cougar picture from a trail camera in MichiganThe confirmed reports are rare. Since 2008 there have been 55 confirmed reports of cougars in Michigan and all but one have been in the Upper Peninsula. It’s also important to note that the reports could be multiple sightings of the same animal.  

Though originally native to Michigan, cougars were driven from the state’s landscape due to several factors, including habitat loss, around the early 1900s. Despite the occasional reported sightings, wildlife experts say there’s no evidence of a breeding population in the state.

"DNA analysis of two cougars poached in the U.P., for example, showed the animals likely dispersed from their established populations in South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska," said Cody Norton, large carnivore specialist with the DNR.

In Michigan, cougars are an endangered species and protected by law. To learn more about the recent confirmed sightings or to submit a cougar report, visit

Questions? Contact Cody Norton at 906-202-3023.


West Nile Virus Survey in Ruffed Grouse Continues to Show Strong Survival Rates

side view of a ruffed grouse in the grass09SEP20-Second-year results from the multistate West Nile virus in ruffed grouse study show similar results to the previous year, that while the virus is present in the Great Lakes region, grouse exposed to the virus can survive.

In coordination with Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin natural resource departments, ruffed grouse hunters provided more than 700 samples for virus exposure and infection analysis. Blood samples were analyzed for antibodies that would indicate if the bird had been exposed to WNV. Heart tissue was tested for the presence of the virus.

  • During the 2019 season, Michigan hunters submitted 281 samples from four study areas in the Upper and northern Lower peninsulas. Of these, 20 (7%) tested positive for exposure, with antibodies to West Nile virus confirmed in seven (2%) birds and likely in 13 (5%). One juvenile male from Iron County tested positive for the presence of viral material in its heart. Polymerase Chain Reaction results for 35 samples are still pending. These results could impact the percentage of birds positive for the presence of viral material in their hearts. When final results are available, they can be found on the WNV FAQ sheet.
  • In Wisconsin, 37 (20%) of the 188 samples were positive for antibodies consistent with virus exposure, with exposure being confirmed in 17 (9%) and likely in 20 (11%). The virus was not found in heart tissue from any of the Wisconsin samples.
  • In Minnesota, 39 (12.3%) of the 317 samples were positive for antibodies consistent with exposure. Exposure was detected in three (0.9%) and likely in 36 (11.4%). The virus was not found in heart tissue from any of the Minnesota samples.

A study from Pennsylvania suggested that birds produced in areas of high-quality habitat are better equipped to survive stressors like West Nile virus. An accessible overview of the Pennsylvania study is available in this Young Forest Project article from November 2016.

“Forested areas with different stages of succession provide optimal habitat and health for grouse,” said Al Stewart, upland game bird specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Birds that live in high-quality habitats are likely to have stronger immune responses to diseases and other pressures. Creating and maintaining these areas are crucial to the success of our grouse population.”

Hunters who provided email contact information with their 2019 samples will be notified of their results this fall.

“We appreciate all of the time and effort made by the state’s grouse hunters to provide samples for this study,” said Julie Melotti, a laboratory technician with the Michigan DNR’s Wildlife Disease Lab. “We would not have been able to achieve this level of sampling without their help.”

Due to current budgetary limitations, funding for the continuation of this study through 2020 is under consideration. Further information on WNV in ruffed grouse can be found on the Michigan DNR’s WNV and Ruffed Grouse FAQ sheet.


Help update DNR public land strategy

scenic wooded pond at Crisp Point02SEP20-The DNR is responsible for nearly 4.6 million acres of public lands owned by Michigan residents. When these lands – state parks, trails, game and wildlife areas, forests and other resources – are well managed, they contribute significantly to the health of Michigan’s residents, environment and economy.

As part the process of updating our public land strategy – which provides a framework for the conservation and management of DNR-managed public lands to ensure their best use for the benefit of our state’s residents, visitors and natural resources – we want to hear what you think about Michigan’s public lands.  

Right now, there’s an easy, yet meaningful way to get involved, and it will take just a few minutes. Visit and use the interactive map to drop a pin on the location of the public lands you value most.

When you drop your pin, you will be invited to complete a three-question survey telling us why public lands matter to you. The results of the survey will assist in the development of the updated strategy.

You also can share your input via email at


Get Michigan Duck Stamps & Prints, Contribute to Conservation

2020 Michigan duck stamp image02SEP20-2020 collector-edition Michigan duck stamps and prints, which help ensure continued conservation of wetlands and waterfowl habitat, are now available for purchase.

The 2020 Michigan duck stamp, painted by Christopher Smith, features a flock of Canada geese coming into a decoy spread.

The Michigan Duck Hunters Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waterfowl and wetland conservation, coordinates the Michigan waterfowl stamp program in partnership with the DNR. Proceeds from stamp sales will be used to fund MDHA projects, with 10% used to match DNR funding for purchasing, restoring and enhancing wetlands.

Purchasing the stamps is voluntary and does not replace the state waterfowl hunting license.

Order duck stamps and prints.


Off-Duty Conservation Officer Rescues Swimmer from Lake Superior

Zitnik-Mark18AUG20-Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Mark Zitnik insists he was just doing his job, though the off-duty officer recently risked his own life to save a swimmer from strong Lake Superior currents.

Zitnik and his family were enjoying a Saturday afternoon (July 25) boating on Munising Bay in Alger County. As their boat navigated around a sandbar, off Sand Point Beach, Zitnik heard someone yell, “Help!”

Zitnik instantly jumped into “search and rescue” mode, asking everyone on the boat to be quiet. He then heard another cry for help and saw people onshore pointing toward two swimmers struggling in the water. They were about 200 yards from Zitnik.

The swimmers had been wading in shallow water covering a sandbar, but they ended up in deep water with a strong current.
Accelerating the boat to reach the swimmers, Zitnik dove from the moving vessel once he was 10-15 yards from the swimmer who appeared be having the most trouble.
Displaying normal signs of an active drowning, the swimmer attempted to climb on top of Zitnik saying, “I can’t swim. Save me. Help me.”
Zitnik used a water rescue hold he learned during his 
Michigan Conservation Officer Academy water training to secure the man. With his chest against the swimmer’s back, Zitnik wrapped his arm around the man’s chest. This caused the swimmer to begin to panic even more, resisting the rescue attempt.
Zitnik identified himself as a conservation officer and rescue swimmer in an attempt to calm the man. After a brief struggle, Zitnik swam the man back to the boat.
Meanwhile, boaters from a passing vessel assisted the second swimmer, who was able to help himself onto that boat.
Once the swimmer Zitnik saved caught his breath, he told the conservation officer that he was a Type 1 diabetic. He continued to thank Zitnik, saying, “You saved my life, man.” The swimmer was offered snacks to help balance his glucose levels, but he declined, insisting that he was OK and felt better.
Both swimmers were transported safely back to shore where they reunited with their family and friends.
“A conservation officer is never truly off-duty,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “Officer Mark Zitnik is a prime example of the training and dedication that all conservation officers commit to. Without hesitating, he risked his life while with his own family to save these two men.”
Zitnik patrols Alger County and has been with the DNR Law Enforcement Division since January 2015.
“It was meant to be. Zitnik was in the right place at the right time,” Hagler said.
There have been several drownings and near-drownings in Michigan this summer.
“If you don’t know the water you’re swimming in, ask locals about the conditions before you leave shore and always wear a life jacket or flotation device while boating, kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding,” Hagler advised.

Refer to the DNR website for more tips on boating and Great Lakes beach safety.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at


Tracking Fish Movements with Acoustic Telemetry

By KAITLEN LANG - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A map of the 2019 acoustic receiver array is shown. Each dot represents the location of one receiver. 18AUG20-If you’ve ever been fishing, you know fish can be hard to locate. Many anglers have marked a high-quality fishing spot with a GPS coordinate, only to return the next day to find that all the fish have left. Fish movements can be influenced by many factors, including location of desirable habitat, water temperature and the seasons.
In addition to helping anglers target their catch, understanding fish movement can help develop more effective strategies for managing fish populations. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources employs a multitude of tools to study these movements.
One method involves marking fish by clipping off a portion of one fin on fish reared in DNR hatcheries, like salmon or trout. This fin clip indicates that an internal coded-wire tag has been inserted into the fish’s head. This tag is microscopic and contains information that DNR staff can read with a microscope.

Brad Utrup, technician at the Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station in Macomb County, holds an acoustically tagged muskellunge. When anglers catch a marked fish, they are encouraged to report information about the catch online or in person at DNR customer service centers. In some cases the DNR will reward anglers for submitting information about the catch.

This mark-and-recapture method helps generate data based on how far the fish moved from where it was last observed. The drawbacks to this method are that researchers don’t know how or when the fish traveled between two points and it is dependent on catching the fish multiple times – a challenging task in a body of water the size of the Great Lakes.

To gain greater insight into fish movement, researchers have been turning to acoustic telemetry.

Acoustic telemetry is the process of using sound and distance to determine approximate movements of animals. It has two main components: a transmitter and a receiver. Each transmitter emits a unique series of sound pulses that can be detected on a stationary receiver. The receiver decodes this unique sound and logs the transmitter number, date and time of the detection.
Researchers can surgically implant a transmitter in the fish’s body cavity and release the fish into a body of water where receivers have been deployed. As the fish swims, movements can be tracked from receiver to receiver, showing the amount of time a fish spends in one area. Some tags also have environmental sensors that provide clues on the fish’s depth, swim speed and water temperature.
Researchers at the Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station use acoustic telemetry to study muskellunge movements in the St. Clair-Detroit River system to better understand spawning areas for habitat restoration and conservation.

A close-up view of transmitters used to track fish is shown.“The ability of acoustic telemetry to provide fine-scale data across all seasons and across huge areas is a game changer, especially for species like muskellunge that are commonly low density,” Dr. Jan-Michael Hessenauer, a DNR fisheries research biologist, said.
Since 2016, more than 130 muskellunge have been tagged with transmitters.

One unique aspect of this project is involving muskellunge angling groups in the tagging process.

“Members of these groups have participated in special fishing events where they have collected fish for tagging and contributed funds to purchase tags and other equipment needed to sustain the project,” Hessenauer said.

Acoustic telemetry can yield surprising results. According to Hessenauer, one male muskellunge “has made two separate trips to the Buffalo area on the east side of Lake Erie, each time returning to the Detroit River where he was initially tagged, but it is important to stress that he’s the only fish that has moved at that scale.”
The Detroit River to the Buffalo area is roughly 500 miles roundtrip, so a muskellunge making this trip twice would have to swim about 1,000 miles.
Acoustic telemetry can have different applications for DNR staff involved in native and invasive species management. Staffers at the DNR’s Waterford Fish Station in Oakland County collaborate with researchers at Michigan State University to track movements of grass carp in Lake Erie. Grass carp are an invasive species the DNR and regional partners are working to eradicate from the Great Lakes. The primary goal of their field work is to remove as many grass carp as possible.

A boat loaded with acoustic receivers that will be deployed in Lake Erie in Monroe County. Tagging a small number of fish with acoustic transmitters and releasing them back into Lake Erie has helped locate grass carp across the vast expanse of the lake and its tributaries.
“Having seasonal movement information for these fish helps response crews better target high-use areas for control efforts,” said John Buszkiewicz, a grass carp biologist at the Waterford Fish Station.
One noteworthy application of this technology is the “real-time rapid response” project. When a tagged grass carp comes into a specific area, a real-time receiver sends out an email alerting the response crews. A team can mobilize quickly by deploying gear to capture any other grass carp in the area. This technology has revealed specific timing of spawning activity and shown seasonality of grass carp movements, which has helped improve capture rates. Telemetry continues to be a major component of grass carp eradication efforts in Lake Erie.

One special aspect of acoustic telemetry research in the Great Lakes region is that data downloaded from receivers is published on GLATOS – the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System. It’s a great example of researchers working together to share equipment and information to advance knowledge of fish movement patterns.
“GLATOS provides fishery managers with information concerning fish movement and behavior that traditional fishery assessments were unable to,” said Dr. Chris Vandergoot, GLATOS director.

Dr. Jan-Michael Hessenauer, biologist at the Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station, surgically implants an acoustic receiver in a muskellunge.

Information observed for individual fish is used to better understand how populations interact with the environment over both the short and long term.
“Data sharing is imperative … because without it, individual projects wouldn’t be successful,” Vandergoot said. “Since fish don’t recognize state or international boundaries, individual researchers are able to follow their fish even if they leave their study area.”
The next time you plan a fishing trip on the Great Lakes, consider exploring information on fish movement through
GLATOS or at It may make you a wiser, less frustrated angler.  
If you believe you have caught a tagged fish, consider taking the time to report it to the DNR. Visible tags can be reported online through the
DNR’s Eyes in the Field reporting system. For adipose fin-clipped fish with coded-wire tags, heads can be submitted at a local drop-off station.

Collaborative science makes Michigan’s world-class fisheries even more exceptional.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at


Michigan Wolf Surveys Show Stable, Healthy Population

Recent winter survey results point to a minimum estimated Upper Peninsula population of nearly 700 wolves

trail cam wolf photo17AUG20-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said today that the state’s wolf population has remained relatively stable over the past nine years, with the most recent survey completed this past winter. DNR Wildlife Division staff who participated in this latest survey estimate there was a minimum of 695 wolves found among 143 packs across the Upper Peninsula. Pack size has remained stable and averages just under five wolves.
Dan Kennedy, acting chief of the Wildlife Division, said the DNR has surveyed wolves since 1989 when they began naturally recolonizing the U.P.
“The survey is important because it helps us monitor wolf distribution and abundance, answer research questions and evaluate progress toward state and federal recovery goals,” Kennedy said. “Our survey results continue to demonstrate that Michigan’s wolf population has recovered.”

The survey was conducted from December through March, before wolves had produced pups, when the population is at its lowest point in the annual cycle.

Bedded wolves“Once survey units have been identified for a given year, surveyors drive roads and trails in trucks and on snowmobiles looking for wolf tracks,” said Dean Beyer, a DNR wildlife research biologist who organizes the sampling and generates the wolf population estimate for the biennial survey. “Once they find wolf tracks, surveyors follow the tracks as long as is practical to determine the number of individual wolves that made the tracks.”

The wolf survey is completed by DNR Wildlife Division and U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services staff who search specific survey areas for wolf tracks and other signs of wolf activity, such as territorial marking or indications of breeding.

“Surveyors try to locate adjacent packs on the same day, to ensure they are not double-counting the same wolves,” said Beyer. State and federal wildlife staff also trap wolves in the spring and outfit them with GPS collars to help determine pack boundaries. This helps determine which tracks belong to each pack during the winter survey.

In 2019-2020, approximately 62% of the Upper Peninsula was surveyed.

After wolves returned naturally to the U.P. through immigration from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario in the 1980s, the population rebounded remarkably over time. The pronounced long-term increase in wolf abundance is evident, despite human cause-specific mortality, such as poaching and vehicle collisions.
Over the past decade, Michigan’s minimum estimate has hovered between 600 and 700 wolves, which is indicative of a stabilizing population.
“Given the relatively consistent abundance estimates since 2011, it appears the wolf population has likely reached the carrying capacity of the Upper Peninsula,” said Cody Norton, a wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s bear, wolf and cougar program in Marquette.
Since the winter of 1993-94, combined wolf numbers in Michigan and Wisconsin have surpassed 100 wolves, meeting one of the federally established goals for delisting wolves in the Great Lakes states. In 2004, Michigan achieved its recovery goal of a minimum sustainable population of 200 wolves for five consecutive years, and wolves were removed from the state list of threatened and endangered species in 2009.

Wolves in Michigan remain a federally protected species and may be killed legally only in defense of human life.

More information about Michigan’s wolf population can be found at


ORV Route Reopened Between Hancock and Dollar Bay in Houghton County

17AUG20-A state-managed off-road vehicle route between the Portage Lift Bridge and Dollar Bay in Houghton County has been re-opened after work was completed to create an interim bypass trail route.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced the re-opening today after a county health advisory was lifted for the ORV trail Friday.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services removed an advisory put in place earlier this year alerting the public to hazardous materials located along a section of the trail at the Julio scrap yard properties.

Once the remaining contamination is mitigated, the DNR will cap the trail with gravel and adjust the interim route back onto DNR-managed lands. Until that time, the public can once again safely recreate using the rerouted trail.  
“We thank the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Julio family, who recognized the importance of the trail to the local community and worked very hard to accomplish the needed work to open this trail,” said Jeff Kakuk, a trails specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division. “There were definitely some difficulties in maintaining forward progress during this health emergency and it was only through the dedication of all involved that the trail is now able to reopen.”

For the latest on trail and other closures of DNR facilities, visit, and to learn more about Michigan’s recreational trails visit


High water impacts continue across Michigan

By JOHN PEPIN - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Boaters docking at the Lime Island Recreation Area in the eastern Upper Peninsula in 2019.14AUG20-From the Porcupine Mountains to Lime Island and Harrisville to Tawas and Van Buren state parks, record or near-record Great Lakes water levels have produced powerful impacts forcing the closure of numerous facilities.
These impacts include flooding, extensive erosion and destruction or damage to countless shoreline features, ranging from homes to harbors.
Along with the closure of campsites, trails, roads, boating access sites and recreation areas, high water levels have also created numerous hazards for boaters, swimmers and even wildlife.
“Over the past few years, the rising Great Lakes have posed significant challenges to maintaining our recreation facilities across the state,” said Ron Olson, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division. “In turn, these challenges have increased costs to our already strapped infrastructure improvements budget, even before the additional impacts from the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Among the noted closures affecting DNR-managed facilities are more than 20 boating access sites, campsites at Harrisville, Leelanau, Muskegon and Young state parks and submerged electrical conduits at Mackinac Island State Harbor.

A breakwater on the Great Lakes is shown with a flooded rock barrier.Lime Island Recreation Area, in the eastern Upper Peninsula, is closed for the season because of submerged docks, as is the Hammond Bay State Harbor on Lake Huron.
Olson said Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee has had acute shoreline damage, forcing relocation of a historic shelter, which is in danger of falling into Lake Michigan. The storm water drainage system is also being redesigned to help protect the eroding bank. The cost for those activities tops $3 million.

Records and reasons

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, except for Lake Ontario, the remaining four Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair each have logged monthly mean high water records at some point this year. Lake Ontario last hit a record high in September 2019.


Annual water levels, fueled by snowmelt and rainfall, rise in the spring to midsummer, when there is increased sunshine, warmth and evaporation and then start to decline into fall where they remain throughout the winter as snow accumulates.

A flooded and storm-damaged Shiras Park is shown in Marquette after an October 2017 storm on Lake Superior.Depending on rainfall dynamics, the waters of all five of the Great Lakes are projected to subside below record levels by the end of the year. Preliminary estimates show precipitation in the Great Lakes Basin was slightly below average in June.
“The primary drivers of water level fluctuations are changing weather patterns and resulting fluctuations in water supply,” said Chris Warren, a professional engineer with the Army Corps’ Detroit District.
The Great Lakes Basin includes 14,000 miles of shoreline along eight states and two Canadian provinces, with 200,000 square miles of land and 95,000 square miles of water. The basin covers a total of 2,212 miles from eastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Atlantic Ocean.
After more than a decade of low Great Lakes water levels, including record lows, the trend toward higher water began in 2013, marked by a record rise and record highs, Warren said.

Through December 2019, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, the preceding 12-, 24-, 48- and 60-month periods were the wettest on the Great Lakes in more than 120 years.

A springtime 2020 photo shows severely cracked pavement along Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette.“We’re seeing some of the highest water levels in recorded history on the Great Lakes,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of the Army Corps’ Watershed Hydrology Branch. “And that’s the result of very wet weather experienced over the last several years.”

Widespread effects

The Michigan Sea Grant website said “even shallow, slow-moving floodwaters can become a major hazard.
“In addition to damaging homes, businesses, power lines, agricultural fields, roadways and other infrastructure, extreme storms and floods can also wash high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients into rivers and streams, where they can lead to harmful algae blooms, give invasive fish and plant species new routes for moving from one water body to another, create damp environments that encourage the growth of mildew, mold, harmful bacteria and mosquito larvae, tempt people to swim, drive, fish, wade or boat in potentially hazardous waters. Fast-moving currents, underwater obstructions and waterborne contaminants can all threaten the health and safety of people who take risks in floodwaters,” the website states.

Michigan DNR conservation officers have offered important tips for boaters given the high-water conditions prevailing on many waterways across the state.
“Some of our officers have witnessed vessels attempt to take a shortcut through channels marked by a buoy. Buoys and markers are in place to communicate a change in water levels that could pose a risk to boaters, including obstacles under the surface of the water or shallow water that has recently become impassable,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Each conservation officer is assigned to patrol specific areas of the state, so they are familiar with the fluctuating water levels. We recommend researching the area you’ll be navigating and remaining vigilant to all markers and buoys.”
Higher waters can cause fast-flowing currents, deeper and colder water, unpredictable conditions and more debris floating under the water’s surface, especially on rivers. The law requires that all vessels, including kayaks and canoes, be equipped with a personal flotation device for each person on board.

Task force formed

After a Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit in February, convened by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, several governmental agencies created the Michigan High Water Action Team to facilitate collaboration and resource sharing in response to public health and safety challenges posed by the state’s historic high water levels.
Members of the team include the Michigan departments of natural resources, state police, health and human services, insurance and financial services, and environment, great lakes and energy, in addition to groups representing local and federal officials.
"High water levels affect every corner of the state, from Great Lakes shorelines to inland lakes to rivers and canals," said Liesl Clark, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy director. "There is no short-term end in sight, which means homeowners and communities will feel the impacts for quite some time. The Michigan High Water Action Team will make sure we continue to have robust discussions at all levels of government to help all Michiganders."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, said its personnel are “committed to ensuring public safety while providing technical expertise and assistance during this time of high water around the Great Lakes.”
“During response operations, our Emergency Management Office, conducts emergency operations to save lives and protect improved properties,” the Army Corps states on its website. “In the event of natural disasters, such as flooding, emergency permit procedures can be activated to expedite permits to reduce further damage and protect life and property.”

High water at South Haven overflows a pier.The Army Corps has authority to provide technical and planning assistance for floodplain management planning. The Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office forecasts and monitors water levels of the Great Lakes and the conditions that lead to water level fluctuations.
The Army Corps maintains a
webpage on Great Lakes high water. More information is available at and a high water webpage maintained by the DNR.

Additional concerns

Beyond the Great Lakes, problems with high water levels also have been persistent on inland waters, including lakes and streams.

Inland water levels vary from place to place given winter snowfall, the water content of that snow and rainfall amounts. Precipitation also has raised groundwater levels.

“All of this means water has less places to go, and frequency and magnitude of flooding events can increase,” said the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s webpage on high water.
Various watercraft controls and other restrictions have been put in place to protect people and property.
In addition to numerous hazards that may be encountered by boaters given high water levels, swimmers and waders can underestimate the strength and power of lake currents leading to dangerous and tragic circumstances.
There have been more than 50 drowning incidents reported on the Great Lakes this year, most from Lake Michigan.

The U.S. Coast Guard finds an overturned boat in July. Two boaters were rescued. Piers and river mouths are places where high water and rip currents can pose serious risks. It’s best to swim at designated beaches, where you can keep an eye on the beach flag warning system and easily monitor swim conditions.
Olson said beyond high water levels, boaters and swimmers disregarding red flag warnings and swimming in restricted areas, like off breakwaters and within navigational channels, also have produced dangerous circumstances.
DNR conservation officers and other police and emergency personnel have responded to several incidents of boaters or swimmers in trouble.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported its busiest Independence Day weekend in the last five years, responding to more than 100 search-and-rescue calls and saving or assisting more than 300 people throughout the region.

Despite those successful efforts, two lives were lost on the lakes during the July 3-5 holiday weekend.
Coast Guard officials said then the guard was approximately 200 search-and-rescue cases ahead of 2019’s pace and about 60 cases over the five-year average.
High activity has since continued to be reported. For the last weekend in July, the Coast Guard said crews throughout the Great Lakes were involved in 81 cases, saved 56 lives and assisted 264 people.

The DNR maintains a webpage with Great Lakes beach safety tips.

Impacts to wildlife

High water also can produce negative circumstances for wildlife.
DNR wildlife biologists say many wildlife species are adaptable and can relocate when high water threatens their habitat. However, some ground-nesting birds like eastern meadowlarks, wild turkeys, mallards and piping plovers can experience nest failures when flooding occurs, which can mean the loss of young birds.
Wakes generated by watercraft also can have harmful impacts for wildlife. To help alleviate flooding, wake restrictions are in place to protect shoreline habitat for fish and animals.
With continued dangers to people, property and wildlife posed by high water levels across Michigan, the DNR is urging anyone venturing out on the water – from anglers and boaters to swimmers, waders and beachcombers – to remain alert and aware of potential hazards to help prevent accidents and help keep everyone enjoying the state’s wonderful water resources safe.

For more information on high water, including links to beach and boating safety tips, local boating restrictions and facility closures, visit

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at


Help Our Forests, Gain Student Volunteer Hours

Two young women moving a black garbage bag, after cleaning up a dump site in a Michigan forest 14AUG20-Volunteer hours help a student’s resume stand out from the crowd and show a commitment to community. Even though it's been a challenge to earn those hours this year due to COVID-19 event cancellations, there is a way to enjoy Michigan’s outdoors and build those hours.  

The DNR’s Adopt-a-Forest program has an ambitious goal of cleaning up 100 trash sites in 100 days (June 15 through Sept. 22) and is making steady progress with about 20% of the challenge completed. There are hundreds of forest sites in need of help. Some are small, with just a few tires or old pop cans, while others are more expansive and contain appliances or construction debris. 

“This challenge is a great way to give back and care for the places we love,” said program coordinator Conor Haenni. “During a time when many events have been canceled, it’s an opportunity for Scouts, honor society members and students working to boost their college applications to enjoy the outdoors and get some volunteer hours.”

Minors should have a responsible adult present when working on a cleanup and wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and gloves. In order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, everyone should follow the guidance of health experts and practice proper social distancing of at least 6 feet and wear face coverings. 

How to join in:

  • Visit to find a forest that needs help, learn about cleanup safety and sign the volunteer waiver.
  • Gather your crew, get started and do some good!
  • When you’re done, report the site as clean and spread the word on social media with #trashtag and #100in100 forest cleanup challenge to inspire others.

Each cleanup gets us closer to our goal of cleaner, more beautiful forests. Contact Conor Haenni at 989-429-5542 with questions and for assistance in organizing a cleanup.


Watch '60-Second Snakes' for Tips on Identifying Michigan's Snakes

Massasauga rattlesnake14AUG20-While you’re enjoying the outdoors, don’t be surprised to spot one of Michigan’s resident snakes. They can be found in just about every habitat type: forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands and cities.
Snakes play an important role in ecosystem health by keeping rodent numbers in check and, in turn, feeding larger predators like hawks and owls.
Michigan is home to 18 different species of snakes, 17 of which are harmless to humans. While most snakes here aren’t dangerous, there is one venomous species found in the state – the 
eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a threatened species that is rarely encountered.
As the name implies, the Massasauga rattlesnake has a segmented rattle on its tail. Keep in mind that other snakes in Michigan (those without segmented rattles) also will buzz or vibrate their tails if approached.

If you do see a snake, it's best to leave it alone and give it the opportunity to slither away – you likely won't see that snake again. 
Learn tips and features to look for to identify Michigan snake species with the DNR's
"60-Second Snakes" video series or by visiting
You can help monitor reptile and amphibian populations in Michigan by reporting your sightings of snakes, turtles, lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads to our Herp Atlas database. Visit to get started. 

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453. If you have photos of a snake and would like identification assistance, please email your pictures to


Love Michigan’s Waters? Become a "MI Paddle Steward"

Kayaker14AUG20-In this era of social distancing, many people are discovering, or rediscovering, the pleasure of time on the water. Paddle sports are a great way to explore the beauty of Michigan’s lakes and rivers, and now they also can be an opportunity to protect these precious resources.
With support from the 
Michigan Invasive Species Grant ProgramMichigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension have developed MI Paddle Stewards, a self-paced, online program for paddlers to learn how to identify, report and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. 
The course consists of six short sessions that include information on using the 
Midwest Invasive Species Information Network mobile app to identify and report invasive species from anywhere with a mobile phone, as well as tips on recognizing “watch list” species, those that pose the greatest threat to Michigan’s waters. 

Most importantly, canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle board users will learn how to effectively clean their watercraft and gear to ensure invasive species don’t travel with them on their next adventure.  

Anyone interested can register for the program at under the Educational Programs tab. A $20 registration fee will earn participants a certificate, bucket hat, towel, waterproof phone case, dry bag and more upon course completion. Participants can take the course for free if they choose not to receive these items. All six sessions must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.

For questions and more information about the MI Paddle Stewards online course, contact MSU Extension educator Mary Bohling at


Natural Resources Commission Approves 2020 Deer Hunting Regulations

White-tailed buck in a Michigan forest

14AUG20-The Michigan Natural Resources Commission yesterday approved a new package of deer regulations at the commission’s regular monthly meeting, which was conducted in an online and conference call format due to COVID-19 public health and safety concerns.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer program experts say the regulations, which will be in effect for the 2020 deer hunting season, will provide additional opportunities and cost savings for hunters and offer flexibility in how hunters pursue deer. The DNR uses existing and projected data to gauge the impact of proposed regulations. The data shows that the projected changes will not have a significant negative effect on the deer herd or the quality of deer hunting.
“These recommendations are aimed at making it easier for hunters of all ages and experience levels to enjoy a Michigan outdoor tradition, while at the same time facing the present and future challenges of managing the state’s abundant deer population,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer, elk and moose program leader.

Approved deer regulations for 2020 include:


  • Liberty and Independence hunt qualifications now include deaf people.
  • Mentored youths (age 9 and younger), junior license holders (age 10-16) and apprentice license holders are exempt from antler point restrictions in all seasons, in all deer management units (DMUs) and under all licenses, which includes both the regular and restricted tags on the deer combo license.
  • The statewide limit for private-land antlerless license purchase is 10 per hunter. This limit offers maximum opportunity for those who wish to manage abundant deer on their property.
  • Hunters with disabilities may use single-bite and multibite baits during the Liberty and Independence hunts. Hunters participating in the Liberty and Independence hunts may begin baiting five days before both hunts.

Upper Peninsula

  • Upper Peninsula archers in select DMUs may pursue antlerless deer with their deer/deer combo license. The following DMUs continue to be closed to antlerless harvest during the archery seasons: 027, 031, 036, 042, 066, 127 and 131. Additional DMUs may be open or closed based on the snowfall totals from the prior winter, pending DNR analysis. Please see the 2020 Hunting Digest for complete regulations when it becomes available in August.
  • Antler point restrictions have been removed on the deer license in parts of DMU 122, including areas outside the core chronic wasting disease surveillance area.

Lower Peninsula

  • In addition to the archery season, antlerless deer may be taken on the deer/deer combo license during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons in all Lower Peninsula DMUs.
  • Early and late antlerless seasons will be open in all Lower Peninsula mainland DMUs.
  • Antlerless deer may be taken on a deer/deer combo license during both the early and late antlerless seasons in the Lower Peninsula.
  • Antlerless quotas will change in select DMUs.
  • The muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula will be shortened to 10 days and the late antlerless firearm season will begin the Monday after the muzzleloader season concludes in the Lower Peninsula. Muzzleloaders can be used on public lands in Zone 3 during the late antlerless firearm season to take any deer with a valid tag.
  • All legal firearms may be used during the muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula.
  • Carcass movement restrictions will be scaled to areas most affected by chronic wasting disease. This aligns movement restrictions to areas with the highest risk of CWD is being observed.
  • The expanded archery season through Jan. 31 will continue for one more year in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. It previously expired Jan. 31, 2020.

The 2020 Hunting Digest will have further information regarding these regulations. The digest is in the process of being finalized now that regulations are set. Watch for the current digest in August at

Learn more about deer management and hunting at


ICYMI: Getting Ready to Move a Big Piece of History

A crane lifts the second story off of a white clapboard house14AUG20-Moving to a new house is a big undertaking, but preparing to move a house rich with historical importance to a new location is something that takes precise planning, patience and a lot of help.
The Julia and Ulysses S. Grant home – a small, Greek revival house built in the 1830s on Detroit's southeast side – is getting ready for the 15-mile trek from the former Michigan State Fairgrounds to Detroit’s Eastern Market. Two decades before he would be president, the young Army officer Ulysses S. Grant, assigned to Detroit as the regimental quartermaster for the 4th Infantry, lived in the home with his wife, Julia, from April 1849 to June 1850. Project coordinators say the final move is expected to happen in early August.
In case you missed it, the Michigan History Center recently provided an
update about the move prep (including the complete separation of the second floor), with photos and time-lapse video. Follow the project at


DNR Director Requests Enbridge Pledge to Cover All Losses Related to Line 5 Dual Pipelines

Dan Eichinger asks parent company to assume obligation

10AUG20-On July 17th, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger sent a letter to Enbridge Inc., requesting that the corporation enter into a written agreement with the State of Michigan to provide financial assurances to cover all damages and losses caused to property or individuals due to operation of the Line 5 dual pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac. Eichinger requested that Enbridge Inc. enter into a written agreement with the State of Michigan to provide sufficient financial assurances to cover any loss, including a catastrophic release from the dual pipelines.

“As recent events have reminded us, we must get these pipelines that transport crude oil out of the Great Lakes as soon as possible,” said Eichinger. “In the meantime, Enbridge must provide full financial assurance to the people of Michigan that the company will meet its obligations in the event there is a spill or some other disastrous damage to the Great Lakes.”

The 1953 Easement allowing placement of the Line 5 dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac requires Enbridge Energy Company Inc., the corporate successor to Lakehead Pipe Line Company, to compensate the State of Michigan for all damages and losses caused by the operation of the pipelines, and to provide insurance, bond or surety liability coverage.

Under former Gov. Rick Snyder, Enbridge signed an agreement to fulfill that requirement, but only signed as a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. The subsidiary does not have sufficient resources to cover the costs of a spill. Additionally, in an expert report titled An Analysis of The Enbridge Financial Assurances Offered to the State of Michigan On Matters Related To The Operation of the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline At the Straits of Mackinac (Oct. 29, 2019), American Risk Management Resources Network (ARMRN) concluded that Enbridge Inc. is not subject to the indemnity language under the 1953 Easement. To address this deficiency, in his letter to Enbridge, Eichinger requested an agreement that includes the following:

  • Enbridge Inc., the parent company, agrees to assume the indemnity obligations of Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. (successor to Lakehead Pipe Line Company).
  • Enbridge Inc. agrees to a minimum of $900 million in liability insurance.
  • Enbridge Inc. names the State of Michigan as an additional insured party on the identified policies so that Michigan’s right of recovery is not derivative.
  • Enbridge Inc. will directly pledge its own assets for the remainder of the financial assurance requirements (to meet or exceed $1.878 billion, annually adjusted for inflation).

On June 25, 2020, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James S. Jamo granted Attorney General Dana Nessel’s motion for a temporary restraining order requiring Enbridge Energy to cease all transport operations of its Line 5 twin pipelines.

Read Eichinger's full letter here.


Herbicides Helpful in Managing Michigan's Forests

By KATHLEEN LAVEY - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A notice alerts the public to a herbicide treatment.07AUG20-From now through fall, people who visit or live near state forests may find signs posted that say herbicide spraying has taken place. They may occasionally find a road closed to off-road vehicle traffic or even see a helicopter flying above, trailing a mist of herbicide.
“Herbicide is an important tool for forest management, especially when preparing to plant red pine,” said Scott Throop, timber management specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The DNR’s Forest Resources Division manages more than 4 million acres of state forest land with practices that are certified as sustainable by third-party organizations.
Herbicides can be used to prepare for planting new trees or to remove invasive species.
“Safety is my number one concern after the decision is made to spray a site,” Throop said. “We spend a lot of time trying to mitigate the risk. We know that people use all of our state forest land, and we want to do our best to protect them.”
Keeping people safe starts with information to help them understand the process and the precautions being taken, said Jeff Stampfly, acting Forest Resources Division chief.
“We want to be open and informative with people about the various treatments we are using to manage the forests,” he said.

A work crew prepares a skidder for a herbicide treatment.Parcels scheduled to be sprayed this year range from a 5-acre plot in Roscommon County to a parcel of about 1,000 acres of timber land in Kalkaska County. Roughly 9,000 acres of land in about 20 counties were scheduled for herbicide treatment this year; those plans normally are made two years in advance and are available for the public to review at
To put that in perspective, if the DNR sprays all 9,000 acres, that represents only two-tenths of one percent of Michigan’s state forest land base. It is likely that workers will be able to spray only about half of that acreage this spraying season. But even though the area is small in terms of acreage, it represents a huge investment that will ensure quality timber into the 22nd century.
This year, spraying began in June at research sites in conjunction with Michigan State University researchers, who are studying hardwood regeneration. Removing competition from other plants with herbicide helps researchers evaluate various tree-growing methods equally.

Herbicide is sprayed from a skidder in Marquette County.The spraying season, from July through September, usually takes place to prepare the ground for planting red pine the following spring or, in a few cases in the Upper Peninsula, jack pine trees. Spraying later in the fall kills hardwood saplings and grass while leaving the pines unharmed as they have gone dormant for the winter.
Several different herbicide products are used, depending on the site and the desired result. In every case, Throop said the goal is to use the lightest concentration of the herbicide product possible.
“Our chemical mixes are designed to work at the low end of the concentration range,” Throop said. “We’re typically far from the high end of permitted use.”
All DNR herbicide applicators are licensed and trained in the safe use of these products, and all herbicides used by the DNR are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Herbicide sprays from a skidder.When an area is to be sprayed, signs are posted beforehand at every access point to the property, including roads and trail heads. The signs specify what is being done and give a contact number people can call if they want to talk to DNR staff about the spraying.
Nearby landowners also are notified, although sometimes it is difficult to reach owners of seasonal homes. DNR staff and contractors are careful to try to accommodate neighbors’ concerns.
“We sprayed an area in Kalkaska County where there were lots of neighbors,” Throop said. “In order to mitigate potential conflicts, we moved spraying to the middle of the week to lessen impacts in the area.”
Herbicide is usually applied from a large piece of all-terrain equipment known as a skidder or sometimes, a helicopter is used.
“One of our major concerns when spraying from a helicopter is drift,” Throop said. “If winds are such that drift becomes unacceptable, we’ll stop aerial spraying for that day.”

After an area is sprayed, signs are left in place for at least 48 hours and sometimes longer. Out of an abundance of caution, people are advised not to pick berries from sites that have been sprayed recently.
Herbicide spraying becomes obvious in subsequent days as plants begin to turn brown.
“People notice something was done, and they can call us at any time with questions,” Throop said.

To learn more about how and why the DNR manages almost 4 million acres of state forest, visit

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at


ICYMI: Asian Tiger Mosquito Found in Wayne County

Asian tiger mosquito on a person's finger04AUG20-The Asian tiger mosquito, an invasive species, was first found in Livonia, Michigan, in 2017, and then in Romulus in 2018 and, now, in Taylor in 2020 – and all sightings were in industrial areas rather than wide open spaces.

The mosquitoes are usually found in tropical and temperate areas, but as the climate warms, the species has spread into more northern regions. These day-biting mosquitoes breed in standing water and can transmit viruses to people.

While Michigan has not had any illnesses associated with this particular mosquito, it's important to take precautions anytime you're outdoors:

  • Wear an EPA-registered insect repellent.
  • Get rid of sources of standing water such as wading pools, old tires, gutters, flowerpots and buckets. This prevents mosquito eggs from hatching or larvae from developing into adults.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.

For more information about mosquito-borne viruses and mosquito surveillance in Michigan, visit


Help Find Disease-Resistant Survivor Elms

American elm neighborhood04AUG20-A century ago, elegant, vase-shaped American elms shaded neighborhoods with their lacy, arched canopies. Today, many of those trees are dead, skeletal husks – a legacy of the destructive Dutch elm disease. The fungal disease, spread by bark beetles, slowly wiped out most American elms after being introduced in the early 1900s.

The American elm’s story isn’t over, however. Midwest forest health experts are working to stage a comeback, and they need your help. 

Have you noticed any large, healthy American elms in your area or when out hiking in the forest? Those “survivor elms” might be tolerant of Dutch elm disease. If you are in Michigan’s colder climate zones (zone 5 and colder), you especially are encouraged to report these trees. Currently, there are no Upper Peninsula reports and very few northern lower Michigan reports. It’s important that these zones are represented, because it helps provide a clearer picture of where disease-resistant elms may be.

Several Midwest state natural resource agencies and the U.S. Forest Service are working together to identify such locations. They plan to collect branch samples for propagation (the process of growing new trees from a variety of sources) with the goal of developing a seed orchard suitable for future reforestation efforts in northern areas.

If you come across one of these trees, record its location and diameter at 4.5 feet from the ground. Submit the observation to the survivor elm website

Eligible elms must be:

  • An American elm (not an imported species).
  • At least 24 inches in diameter.
  • Disease-free.
  • Naturally grown, not planted or treated with fungicide
  • Within 1 mile of Dutch elm disease (indicated by nearby dying/dead elms).


Michigan Duck Stamps and Prints Now Available

2020 duck stamp print

04AUG20-The 2020 Michigan duck stamp is here! This year’s design features a flock of Canada geese coming into a decoy spread. The stamp is a voluntary purchase and does not replace the state waterfowl hunting license, and proceeds from stamp sales help restore and enhance wetlands and waterfowl habitat.

In addition to the stamp, a limited edition signed and numbered print of the design is also available for purchase. The design was illustrated by Chris Smith, a wildlife artist, freelance author and hunter from Suttons Bay, Michigan, who specializes in dogs and wildlife scenes. Smith’s art also was featured for the 2005, 2014, 2016 and 2018 duck stamps.

The Michigan Duck Hunters Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waterfowl and wetland conservation, coordinates the Michigan waterfowl stamp program in partnership with the DNR. The funds raised through stamp sales will be used to fund MDHA projects, with 10% used to match DNR funding for purchasing wetlands.

For more information on the program, and how to get a stamp of your own, visit the Michigan Waterfowl Stamp Program page. 


Michigan Has Two New State-Record Fish

The new April 2020 state-record quillback carpsucker04AUG20-During the first few months of the Coronavirus emergency in Michigan, a lot of people turned to the outdoors for exercise, fresh air and a little peace of mind. For two residents, that included time on the water that led to new state-record fish!

Owen Seay of Big Rapids, Michigan, was bait casting in the Muskegon River in Mecosta County on April 28 when he caught a quillback carpsucker weighing in at 9 pounds, 15 ounces and measuring 24.75 inches. That catch (pictured above) bested the previous state record, an 8.52-pound catch on Hardy Dam Pond in Newaygo County in 2015.

Scott Heintzelman, the DNR's Central Lake Michigan Management Unit manager out of Cadillac, verified that new record.

On May 25, Garrett Rice of Athens, Michigan, caught a 33-pound bigmouth buffalo measuring more than 3 feet long while bow fishing on Lake Erie in Monroe County. Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator with the DNR Fisheries Division, verified Rice’s fish, which replaced the 32-pound record-holder caught last year on the Shiawassee River in Saginaw County.

Verification of state records usually happens quickly after a catch but has been delayed due to COVID-19 public health and safety restrictions. These two records were recorded remotely on certified scales, then frozen, and later verified in person.

State-record fish are recognized by weight only. To qualify, a fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight, and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist. See the current roster of record setters at

Questions? Contact Lynne Thoma at 517-284-5838.


Thirteen State Parks Celebrate Golden Anniversaries Twice Over

By JOHN PEPIN - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A mother and son enjoy an outing fishing at Hoeft State Park.31JUL20-Like Band-aid bandages, Baby Ruth candy bars, the National Football League and the psychiatrist Rorschack’s ink-blot test, 13 of Michigan’s 103 state parks are this year turning 100 years old.

It was 1920 – the simultaneous infancy and high-water benchmark year in development of Michigan’s state parks system – when these 13 state parks were established within portions of as many counties across the Lower Peninsula.

Counties where the parks were set up included portions of Cheboygan, Oceana, Ottawa, Alcona, Presque Isle, Otsego, Clare, Grand Traverse, Charlevoix, Wexford, Lenawee, Jackson and Washtenaw counties.

The previous year, Interlochen had become the first state park in Michigan established under the auspices of the Michigan State Parks Commission.

Campers and picnickers enjoy a day at Otsego Lake State Park in this undated historical photo.It wouldn’t be until 1922, with Brimley and Baraga, that the first mainland state parks would be created in the Upper Peninsula. A state park at Mackinac Island and Fort Michilimackinac had been created previously under another governance.

“With Michigan’s then-burgeoning population and Henry Ford’s development of affordable automobiles, it didn’t take long before motorists began looking for places to drive to for the enjoyment of leisure time and recreation,” said Ron Olson, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division. “With places available to the public for this few and far between, the state parks commission was working hard to establish new parks.”

In many cases, lands were donated to the cause – some with parks already on them – or reverted to the state after taxes became delinquent. In still other instances, some tracts of land were purchased outright for park development.

Visitors enjoy the beach at Grand Haven State Park.

In August 1920, The Times-Herald in Port Huron described the activities of the recently created state parks commission.

“There was appropriated the sum of $150,000 for the years 1920 and 1921,” the newspaper reported. “As a result of this action, the State of Michigan is rapidly acquiring a system of state parks which not only promise to be comparable in size and beauty and interest to those of any other state in the union, but will make Michigan more than ever the summer playground of the great middle west.”

By June 1921, 24 sites had been acquired and improvements begun on 17 of them. To make these sites easily accessible to tourists, most new state parks were established either on or adjacent to state trunk highways.

“One hundred years later, we want to acknowledge the contributions establishment of these early state parks had in creating a lasting legacy for Michigan,” Olson said. “From Burt Lake to Grand Haven and Silver Lake, we’ve got a lot of reasons to commemorate this milestone.”

A historical photo shows visitors at the beach at William Mitchell State Park in Wexford County.Here is a closer look at each of the 13 state parks established in 1920.

Burt Lake State Park – Home to 2,000 feet of sandy shoreline, fishing and boating, this state park is situated south of Indian River, along the southeast corner of 17,120-acre Burt Lake in Cheboygan County. The first portion of land to be set aside for the park was purchased in 1920, with more land acquired through 1939 bringing the total size of the park to 406 acres.

Charles Mears State Park – Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in Oceana County, a harbor pier, paved campsites and a fine sand swimming beach greet visitors to this 50-acre state park in Pentwater. Namesake Mears was an early settler of Pentwater who built a sawmill, and a boarding house and founded the Middlesex Brick & Title Co. His daughter would later donate land for the park.

Grand Haven State Park – Situated between the beauty of Lake Michigan to the west and the Grand River on the north, this 48-acre beach state park in Ottawa County offers scenic views of the lake and the Grand Haven pier and lighthouse. An initial 10 acres from the estate of Stephen Monroe was purchased by the city of Grand Haven and offered to the state for development of this park. The Battle Creek Enquirer reported the land was officially accepted by the state conservation commission in June 1921.

Harrisville State Park – This 107-acre park in Alcona County is within walking distance of the resort town of Harrisville on the sandy shores of Lake Huron. Near the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, the park has a day-use and campground area among a stand of cedar and pine trees.

Onaway State Park – Located 6 miles north of Onaway along M-211, this park in Presque Isle County is known for its rugged and picturesque landscape along the shores of Black Lake. At 158-acres, the park sports sand cobblestone beaches, unique rock outcroppings and virgin white pines. The park, located in an area once frequented by Ojibwa Indians, was acquired from Presque Isle County and private donors.

Otsego Lake State Park – This 62-acre park, home to sandy beaches with beautiful views, is found south of Gaylord in Otsego County. The park has easy access to Michigan’s signature Iron Belle Trail for biking and hiking, along with opportunities for boating and fishing. Large oak, maple and pine trees offer visitors shade on hot summer days.

P.H. Hoeft State Park – Named for lumber baron Paul H. Hoeft, who donated property toward creation of this Presque Isle County recreation destination, this 304-acre park is heavily wooded and situated along the Lake Huron shoreline. A picnic pavilion was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. There are several trails here, including beach and hardwood forest trails that stretch for 1.5 miles each, along with the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway.

Silver Lake State Park – At 2,936 acres, this is the largest of those early state parks created a century ago. Located along the Lake Michigan shore in Oceana County, Silver Lake State Park is best known for extensive sand dunes that attract off-road vehicle riders to the park’s scramble area. These are the only sand dunes open to off-road vehicle riders east of the Mississippi River. The park also features camping and swimming.

Traverse City State Park – Later renamed Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park, after the conservationist, hunter and fisherman who served on the Michigan Natural Resources Commission from 1994 to 2010, this park is located on a quarter mile of beach on Grand Traverse Bay. The 47-acre park in Grand Traverse County was initially established on 16 acres of land, with additional property added in 1921 and 1939.  

Cedar Hill State Park – This southern Michigan park situated on Wamplers Lake, 9 miles west of Clinton, was later renamed for state Sen. Walter J. Hayes after land was donated to the park honoring him. Today, the 78 acres at W.J. Hayes State Park are found within portions of Lenawee, Jackson and Washtenaw counties, in an area known as the Irish Hills, which is home to 52 lakes and rolling topography. Activities here range from geocaching and metal detecting to boating, fishing and swimming.

Wilson State Park – Located in Clare County at the north end of Budd Lake, this park offers 36 wooded acres, with fishing, paddling and opportunities for day trips, near Harrison. This location was the original site of the Wilson Brothers Sawmill and Company Store, which thrived in the late 1800s.

William Mitchell State Park – Situated between Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell, this 334-acre park in Wexford County is popular as a camping, fishing and boating destination. A historic canal runs through the park and connects the two lakes. The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center and the Mitchell Heritage Nature Trail are located within the park.

Young State Park – This 563-acre park on Lake Charlevoix is home to a popular beach and an interesting blend of gently rolling terrain, cedar swamp and lowlands. The park’s concession stand was built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

A beautiful orange-red sunset is shown from Burt Lake State Park.

In its Aug. 21, 1920 article, The Times-Herald of Port Huron said it didn’t have the space available “to even outline every important feature in connection with the state park system. That it will be of tremendous benefit goes almost without saying.”

“Great growths of virgin pine and other woods will be kept intact, so that in the years to come the children of our children and of their children and those who follow after may enjoy the secluded and inspiring wilderness of their forefathers,” the newspaper said.

“They may take canoe trips through the lakes and rivers, as the Indians did. They may use the same trails, or they may go by automobile or train to escape the driving pace of city life to the tree covered hills, the brooks, the rocky glens. There will be reforestation, too, in many places so that, a hundred years from now, thousands of acres will have been restored to their natural state.”

For more information about Michigan’s fabulous 103 state parks, visit

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at


DNR Releases Enbridge Easement Compliance Documents

31JUL20-Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger today released numerous Enbridge Inc. documents related to the company’s easement compliance for its operations in the Mackinac Straits.
In June 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tasked the DNR with undertaking a comprehensive review of Enbridge compliance with a 1953 easement for the company’s dual petroleum pipelines at the straits.
The easement outlines the terms under which Enbridge can operate the pipelines on the bottomlands of the Great Lakes.
The DNR has requested and received from Enbridge numerous documents necessary to complete this review. The documents supplied by Enbridge are now
available online for public review.

For more information on Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, visit


'These Goods Are Good for Michigan' Program Expands

These Goods Graphic

31JUL30-State park-inspired apparel, craft beer, coffee, eco-friendly insect repellent and camping gear are just a few products you can purchase (or even rent) to support Michigan's great outdoors and some small businesses, too.

The name of the program explains it all. Launched in 2017, “These Goods are Good for Michigan” highlights businesses that support Michigan state parks, trails and waterways.

Here’s how it works. The DNR partners with businesses through a revenue-sharing or donation agreement, and partners are featured on the website. Each business selects what to support, a specific place, youth nature education, accessibility and trail improvements, tree planting and other mission-based efforts and there is a minimum contribution required.

Arrive RentalArrive Outdoors, the newest to join, offers premium camping and outdoor gear like tents and cots, cookware and furniture for rent. It’s all delivered right to your door, and returns are easy, too. The company has also implemented extensive health and safety measures in light of COVID-19, and thoroughly hand-cleans and treats all rental gear with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended cleaning solutions.

“This is a really interesting option for us,” said Maia Turek, DNR resource development specialist. “Not only will we receive 10% from Arrive Outdoor rentals, but this also can help new visitors who want to try camping but maybe don’t have the gear because it’s too pricey or they don’t have the room to store it. The other cool advantage is that it gives people a chance to try gear before investing in it.”

Michigan’s state parks system is largely self-supporting, with camping, shelter and lodging reservation fees, Recreation Passport sales, gas and mineral royalty revenue and concessions making up about 96% of funding. The rest comes from general tax dollars and other fund development initiatives, such as donations, special events, public-private partnerships and programs like this.

Turek said this new rental option could help turn those interested in outdoor recreation into avid enthusiasts. A new segment of visitors would help support the state parks and recreation system by purchasing the Recreation Passport, making camping and lodging reservations or even getting involved by volunteering.

Visit for evolving partner and product updates. Plus, for several partners, clicking through from this page is how contributions are tracked. For more on this program and other opportunities, contact Maia Turek at 989-225-8573.


What Is Your Campfire Made Of?

Burn safe, burn clean graphic

31JUL20-You have a fire ring, a nearby water source, checked the weather  and now it’s time to enjoy a campfire and a night under the stars! But before you grab the matches, there’s one more thing to consider: what “ingredients” are you putting in your fire? 
“When we do fire safety talks, we focus on how important it is to keep a fire contained,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist. “Another vital piece of fire safety is even more basic: building it out of the right materials in the first place.”
Build fires at home or camp only with natural materials like wood, brush and logs. Dry, well-seasoned wood produces the least amount of smoke. Burning plastic, foam and hazardous substances releases chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment; plus, it's against the law. Such items include plastic cups, food packaging, paint and electronics. It's better to recycle or responsibly dispose of these items instead.  

Many materials can be recycled through local waste management services or during community waste collection events. Search by location or substance using the Michigan Recycling Directory
“Burning hazardous substances can release heavy metals, toxic gases and other chemicals into the air we breathe,” said Jenifer Dixon, air quality liaison with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “The ashes from waste fires can also contaminate soil and groundwater.” 

Knowing what goes into your campfire is important – for both you and the environment. Get fire safety information at and learn about air quality at


DNR To Begin Work on Houghton to Chassell Rail-Trail

31JUL20-Trail restoration work along the Houghton to Chassell rail-trail in Houghton County is scheduled to begin Monday.
Segments of the trail were impacted severely during the 2018 Father’s Day flood, which also caused millions of dollars of damage to other DNR-managed trails in the region.

“This initial phase of our reconstruction efforts this summer will include brushing, ditching, culvert cleaning and sediment removal,” said Ron Yesney, Upper Peninsula trails coordinator with the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “While a good deal of trail work remains to be completed, we are pleased to begin fixing this recreational trail important to Houghton County.”

For questions or concerns about the project, contact Ron Yesney at 906-228-6561 or by email at

For more information on recreational trails in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at: To find out the latest on trail and other closures, visit


Showcasing the DNR

By CASEY WARNER - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

22JUL20-With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and thousands of miles of rivers and streams, Michigan offers ample opportunity to traverse the state over the water, no matter the size or speed of your vessel.
While designated water trails are a relatively recent development, use of Michigan’s waterways for transportation isn’t new.

Historical headwaters

Boaters shown on the water near Grand Haven are shown in this photograph.“Our harbor system along the Great Lakes is the first water trail system we’ve had in this state,” said Jordan Byelich, waterways development program manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “In fact, going back hundreds of years, the Great Lakes served Native Americans and Europeans as a water trail system.”
Native Americans first used Michigan’s waterways for sustenance and trade, early European settlers used them to transport goods and timber, and water resources were the foundation of Michigan’s earliest manufacturing and shipping industries.
These waterways also had a significant impact nationally.
“The Great Lakes and a network of rivers opened the vast American heartland to a nation moving west. Inland waterways are a road map to much of the nation’s history,” explains a passage from the National Museum of American History’s online exhibition “On the Water: Stories from Maritime America.”

“They guided the travels of Native Americans, explorers from Europe, and streams of newcomers who established businesses, towns, and cities. … Inland waterways helped hold together the people and economy of the nation as it grew throughout the 1800s.”
Today, while still important for industrial transport, Michigan’s waters often host more leisurely travelers.
Michigan consistently ranks among the top three states in the nation for watercraft registrations and boat sales.
Recreational boating has an economic impact of more than $7 billion annually in Michigan, according to data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Finding safe harbor

A gentleman is pictured in his boat moored at the Cedar River Harbor in Menominee County.As boating became a popular pastime, the state set out to provide safe public access to the Great Lakes and inland waters of Michigan.
In 1947, the state Legislature created the
Michigan State Waterways Commission – a seven-member advisory board that works with the DNR on the use of dedicated funds, provided by boaters, for the acquisition, development and maintenance of public harbors and boating access sites.
So began the state’s Great Lakes Harbors Program. The Waterways Commission was granted authority and supporting funds to create a marine “highway” along the 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline.
From 1947 to 1964, the commission developed the majority of Michigan’s harbors of refuge, providing tens of thousands of boaters safe harbors and hospitality as they circumnavigate the state.
In 1966, the commission became part of Michigan’s Department of Conservation, the precursor to the DNR.

“Today, the number of safe harbors has grown as the Waterways Commission continues its mission to provide safe public access to the Great Lakes and inland waters of this state,” reads the Michigan Harbors Guide. “The program's goal is to locate harbors so that no boater will ever be more than 15 shoreline miles from safety.”

See a map showing how extensive this network harbors has become.

Boaters enjoy a chance to relax off-water at Milliken State Harbor in Detroit.

Boaters have paid for much of this harbor network through taxes on marine fuel purchases and boat registration fees. Under the Waterways Grant-In-Aid Program, local units of government are given grant funds for construction of facilities. Federal funding also supports the development of harbor facilities.
“Of the over 80 public harbors, most are operated by our Grant-in-Aid partners,” said Linnae Dawson, DNR recreational harbor coordinator. “GIA harbors are owned and operated by a local unit of government but have received waterways funding in the past.”
Local communities are responsible for continuing operation and maintenance of harbor facilities. The state only considers assuming these responsibilities where local resources are unable to support them, so the DNR operates only 18 of Michigan's harbor facilities.
Information about planning a day or overnight trip to one of Michigan’s 83 state-sponsored harbors is available on the
DNR's 'Boating the Great Lakes' page. Here boaters can find access to the digital harbor guide, including harbor locations, amenities, reservation information and more.

Michigan also has more than 1,300 public state and local boating access sites, both developed and undeveloped.

Hitting the water trail

A man uses a paddle board on calm waters.While boating has long been a popular pursuit for Michiganders, participation in paddle sports like kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding has flourished in recent years.
In 2018, to offer paddling travelers more opportunities, the state first
designated water trails – eight waterways totaling 540-plus miles that flow through more than a dozen counties. 
A water trail is a designated route on a navigable waterway such as a lake, river, canal or bay, which is designed and managed to create a positive outdoor recreation experience for the user.
They feature well-developed access points, often are near significant historical, environmental or cultural points of interest and often have nearby amenities like restaurants, hotels and campgrounds.
“Water trails naturally are an increasing trend in Michigan and throughout the country, as interest in paddle sports and other water-based recreation continues to grow,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson. “We are pleased to help advance these opportunities by recognizing model public water trails that set the standard for the future of Michigan’s water trails program.”

Paul Yauk, the DNR’s state trails coordinator, said that Michigan is in a great position to work with partners to create a statewide water trails program that complements Michigan’s broader trails system.
“Designating these rivers as official water trails shines an even brighter light on some incredible natural resources,” Yauk said. “We fully expect that offering – and expanding – water trail opportunities in Michigan will encourage more outdoor recreation and healthier lifestyles, and also serve as regional destinations that will give a boost to local economies.”
Whether it’s cruising the Great Lakes or paddling down a quiet stream, there are plenty of opportunities to explore Michigan while traveling by water.
If you’re planning a boating or paddling trip, please be aware that rising water levels on Michigan lakes, rivers and streams can present hazards for boaters, swimmers and others enjoying the outdoors. Find tips on keeping you safe in and around higher water levels, plus ideas for lessening the impacts to fish and wildlife, at

Learn more about boating at and about water trails at

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at


Plugging Into the Power of Public Lands

DNR begins updating strategy for managing more than 4 million acres

a view of the Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Luce County, Michigan20JUL20-What do mountain biking, bird watching, snowmobiling and hunting have in common? Besides being hobbies many Michigan residents and visitors love, these opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors are available across the state thanks to the careful, thoughtful way the Department of Natural Resources takes care of the state’s public lands.
The DNR is responsible for nearly 4.6 million acres of public lands owned by Michigan residents. When these lands – state parks, trails, game and wildlife areas, forests and other resources – are well managed, they contribute significantly to the health of Michigan’s residents, environment and economy.
The condition and availability of these outdoor spaces close to home are now more critical than ever, with more people out enjoying Michigan’s natural resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An autumn forest view near Storey Lake, near the Pigeon RIver County State Forest in northern Michigan“Hiking a wooded trail, fishing a trout stream, paddling a lazy river – the comfort provided by these outdoor activities underscores the value of Michigan’s public lands and the need to manage them carefully,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “That’s where our public land strategy comes in.”
The strategy, originally created in 2013, provides a framework for the conservation and management of public lands to ensure their best use for the benefit of Michigan residents, visitors and the state’s natural resources.
“We set the stage with the original strategy seven years ago, and now we are revisiting it to see how far we’ve come and what adjustments need to be made for the next six years,” said Scott Whitcomb, DNR senior adviser for wildlife and public lands.

Lake Michigan shoreline view at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Allegan County, MichiganAn updated public land strategy, which must be submitted to the Michigan Legislature for consideration and approval by July 1, 2021, will explain why a public land base is so important and provide goals, strategies and measurable objectives to guide the DNR in:

  • Protecting and preserving Michigan’s natural and cultural resources.
  • Providing spaces for quality outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Promoting natural resources management.

Whitcomb said that broad public participation is key to ensuring a strong, comprehensive strategy. The DNR invites people to be part of the land strategy process by visiting and using the interactive map to drop a pin on the location of the public lands they value most.

“There’s also a brief, three-question survey where we want people to tell us why public lands matter,” Whitcomb said. “We really want to know what access to these lands means to them and to their family and friends, because their candid answers will assist us in developing the updated strategy.”
Additionally, the DNR will accept public input about the strategy update process via email at More information about the strategy can be found at Drafts and components available for public review and comment will be posted to the website throughout the update process.


DNR Notes:

Aggressive animals

In those instances where there is an aggressive wild animal, particularly animals such as geese, swans, turkeys, deer and bears, landowners should get in touch with the nearest DNR Customer Service Center to let the local DNR staff know about the issue.  As each situation is unique, staff will first assess the problem and then determine the appropriate action based on the species and location.  
Landowners can contact one of the nuisance wildlife control permittees for assistance with removal of species such as coyotes, fox, raccoons, opossums and skunks.

Specially permitted nuisance control companies can be hired to assist landowners with goose control programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services also offers removal assistance, such as nest destruction and relocation permits.

DNR Customer Service Centers

  • Baraga - 906-353-6651
  • Bay City - 989-684-9141
  • Cadillac - 231-775-9727
  • Detroit - 313-396-6890
  • Escanaba - 906-786-2351
  • Gaylord - 989-732-3541
  • Lansing - 517-284-4720
  • Marquette - 906-228-6561
  • Newberry - 906-293-5131
  • Plainwell - 269-685-6851
  • Roscommon - 989-275-5151
  • Sault Ste. Marie - 906-635-6161
  • Traverse City - 231-922-5280

DNR Field Offices

  • Crystal Falls - 906-875-6622
  • Gwinn - 906-346-9201
  • Naubinway - 906-477-6048
  • Norway - 906-563-9247


Tired of the mad dash to get a good camping spot at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at Little Beaver Lake Campground, Twelve Mile Campground, or Hurricane River Campground?  These campgrounds now require reservations, after years of a "first come, first served" policy. Since visitation has nearly doubled in the last few years during the summer months reservations can now be made at


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

DNR Public News is published here as a courtesy and does not represent the views or intent of the ownership of Carroll Broadcasting.

Copyright © 2019 Carroll Broadcasting, Inc., All rights reserved.


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