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Updated 05/11/20

 

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ORV Riders - Take Precautions Due to Limited Trail Maintenance

11MAY20-Although motorized trails are open to the public, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources urges off-road enthusiasts to use even greater care when riding trails this spring.
Due to the updated
"Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order (now extended through May 28) and the State of Michigan's discretionary spending freeze, ORV trail maintenance has been temporarily suspended.
Typically, ORV grant sponsors handle needed maintenance work before the riding season starts. Under the order, normal preseason activities like clearing dead or fallen trees, trimming brush, grading and replacing signage haven't yet been completed. That means it's more likely that riders may come across downed limbs and trees, uneven trail surfaces, missing signage and other related hazards.

ORV riders are asked to:

  • Slow down.
  • Take corners with extra caution.
  • Watch for potential hazards.
  • Stay on designated trails.

These measures, along with greater awareness of other trail users, are critical to ORV rider safety.
"While the DNR encourages taking advantage of local opportunities to get outdoors, there has been a sharp rise in ORV trail use," said Greg Kinser, the DNR Parks and Recreation Division's northern Lower Peninsula trails coordinator.
"Many riders return to their favorite trails year after year, but current conditions on those same trails are requiring more advanced riding skills this spring," Kinser said. "As soon as it's possible, we will begin the process of assessing trails and returning to regular maintenance activities. In the meantime, we are asking everyone, please, to slow down, stay safe and stay local.”
An ORV license ($26.25) is required to ride anywhere other than private property, and an ORV trail permit ($10) is needed on state-designated ORV trails, routes or areas. During the stay-at-home order, purchases can be made online at
Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. Visit Michigan.gov/ORVInfo for more details, including information on trail closures, maps and safety.
Riders are reminded to "Ride Right" by keeping on the right side of the trail, operating at a safe speed and anticipating other riders. Learn more about the campaign at 
Michigan.gov/RideRight.

For more information, contact Greg Kinser at KinserG@Michigan.gov.

Revenue from the purchase of ORV trail permits provides important grant funding to sponsors and clubs for annual trail grooming.

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Some May Meetings Go Virtual; Others Canceled

colorful image of the word feedback spelled out11MAY20-Every month, the DNR holds public meetings around the state to provide Michigan residents with opportunities to share ideas and ask questions about policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resources management and outdoor recreation. With recent COVID-19 public health and safety in mind, the DNR has changed some May meetings to conference calls and virtual meetings, while canceling others. Upcoming meetings include:

Conference call phone numbers and access codes and other details are being confirmed. Frequently check the DNR boards, commissions, committees and councils webpage for updates. If you need assistance connecting with a DNR program or public body not listed on that page, contact DNR-Public-Info@Michigan.gov.

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Help Deter Wild Turkeys, Remove Food Sources

Wild turkey walking in grass

11MAY20-While hunters love to see wild turkeys in the spring, the birds are a less welcome sight in some residential communities. Found throughout most of the state and even in some suburban areas, turkeys are drawn to birdseed – bird feeders and agricultural fields often attract wild turkeys – so use care when feeding songbirds.
Turkeys that grow comfortable in a suburban setting may become aggressive. Male turkeys, especially, can be aggressive during breeding season and may peck at their reflections in shiny car paint, sliding doors and windows.
So, what can you do? Start by removing all food sources that can attract wild turkeys. Cover or park vehicles inside, where possible, and use gentle hazing techniques to deter turkeys. Start by making loud noises and waving to frighten the turkeys. You also can open and close an umbrella while walking toward a turkey to scare it away.

With a little effort, all Michigan residents can share the responsibility for reducing potential wildlife conflicts in our communities. Get tips and information at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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Public Tree-Planting Grants Available Via Partnership

a lush, tree-lined city street11MAY20-Thriving trees help make a community an inviting place to live. A grant opportunity provided by the DTE Energy Foundation and administered by the DNR and nonprofit Releaf Michigan – a partnership that has supported community tree planting for 24 years – is helping schools, communities, tribes and eligible nonprofits add more green to their neighborhoods.
Eligible organizations within
DTE Energy’s service territory may apply by June 15 for up to $4,000 in matching grants for public tree-planting projects. About $90,000 total is available. Download a tree-planting grant application.
“The DTE Energy Foundation is proud to be a longtime partner in this program,” said Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Energy Foundation. “These grants help communities across the state with their beautification projects and support an environmentally sustainable future for Michigan.”
Tree-planting projects must occur on public property such as parks, road rights-of-way and school grounds and promote the
“right tree, right place” message about utility awareness. The required 1-to-1 match can be made of cash contributions or in-kind services, including volunteer efforts.

Awards will be announced in August and projects must be completed by May 31, 2021.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/UCF or contact Kevin Sayers (DNR), 517-284-5898; Colleen Rosso (DTE Energy), 313-235-5555 or Melinda Jones (ReLeaf Michigan), 800-642-7353.

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Updated Lake Trout Regulations on Two Great Lakes

smiling man standing up in boat, holding a lake trout11MAY20-Those fishing for lake trout on either northern Lake Huron or portions of Lake Michigan this season can up their take. At its April meeting, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the following fishing regulation changes, with immediate effect:

  • In the northern Lake Huron lake trout management unit MH-1, the daily possession limit is now three fish (up from a two-fish limit in 2019). This regulation now applies to all Lake Huron waters.
  • In the Lake Michigan lake trout management unit MM-4, the daily possession limit is two fish (up from a one-fish limit last year).

Anglers had exceeded daily possession limits for both lake trout management units in recent years, prompting the decrease in 2019 to ensure compliance with the 2000 Consent Decree recreational harvest limits. The reduction worked, as the 2019 lake trout harvest stayed within specified limits. Managers are confident that restoring the daily possession limits to their former levels won’t result in overfishing in either lake trout management unit.
This information is updated both in the online 2020 Michigan Fishing Guide (available at
Michigan.gov/DNRDigests) and on the DNR’s fishing regulations hotline (888-367-7060). For questions, contact Jay Wesley (Lake Michigan) at 616-490-5090 or Randy Claramunt (Lake Huron) at 231-622-3820.

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Collecting Michigan's Coronavirus Story

By CASEY WARNER-Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A historic photo shows street car riders wearing masks during the 1918 influenza epidemic.

07MAY20-Face masks and hand sanitizer. College campuses and schools empty of students. Store shelves empty of toilet paper and disinfectant. Seeing coworkers, friends and family only on a computer screen. No sporting events, concerts or proms.
These are just a few of the ways life in Michigan, and around the country, has changed with the advent of the Coronavirus.
It’s an extraordinary, unprecedented time in our state’s history, but not the first time Michigan has faced a major pandemic.
In October 1918, a deadly strain of influenza circulating around the United States and Europe arrived in Michigan. The disease killed many more Americans than those who died in World War I.
That influenza was sometimes referred to as the “Spanish flu,” but that’s a misnomer according to Jillian Reese, curator with the Michigan History Museum.

In an article in Chronicle magazine, published by the Historical Society of Michigan, the late Richard Adler (a longtime professor of biology and microbiology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn) explained the origins of the inaccurate name, “Because of censorship associated with the Great War in Europe, the extent of influenza among both the Central Powers as well as the Allies was rarely reported. Spain, being neutral in the conflict, was not subjected to the same degree of restriction, which resulted in the illness, known as the ‘grippe,’ often being referred to as the Spanish Flu.  The Spanish blamed the French as the source. In reality, though, the disease likely originated at Camp Funston, Kansas, which is now Fort Riley.”
Reflecting on what happened in the state during that pandemic a century ago to gain perspective on the state’s current situation, Michigan History Center staff members found accounts of how state and local government officials responded to the outbreak.
“Looking back into history helps us understand how to handle today’s public health emergency,” Reese said.

Lagging response

A nurse is shown standing outside a field hospital tent.She explained that, when military personnel in Detroit, Bay City and at Camp Custer started getting sick, containment efforts were sluggish. People insisted that the flu had been around forever and had high recovery rates.
Michigan’s Gov. Albert Sleeper issued an order banning large congregations of people weeks after Michigan’s first flu deaths.
Counties and cities had to individually request further closures from the governor. Many officials waited to make these requests until the area’s hospitals were overrun and the flu had been circulating for months.
Some communities underreported infection numbers to keep businesses open. Some people protested that these restrictions were too harsh.
More than 15,000 people died of either influenza or pneumonia in Michigan between October 1918 and April 1919 – the equivalent of 50,000 people in today’s population. Michigan had 554 influenza deaths in 1917. In 1918, 6,336 died of influenza between October and December alone.

Some places in Michigan, such as Oscoda, Roscommon and Kalamazoo counties, saw more than a 90% increase in deaths from 1917 to 1918, and most counties saw a 20%-50% increase in deaths.

Healthcare works are shown during the 1918 influenza pandemic.“Lax containment practices made Michigan’s influenza pandemic worse,” Reese said, explaining that hospital workers continued to go to theaters and dancehalls and families with sick members welcomed guests to their homes. The state saw spikes in infection after large community gatherings, including WWI victory parades and Thanksgiving parades in November 1918.
In all, Michigan had four influenza outbreaks. The last large community outbreak occurred in 1920, more than two years after the initial introduction of the disease.

Scant record

Researching the 1918 pandemic, Michigan History Center staff members found little information in the Archives of Michigan revealing details about the flu’s impact on Michiganders’ lives.
They don’t want that to be the case for those looking back on the current pandemic.

As a result, the Michigan History Center recently launched Collecting COVID-19, an initiative that gives state residents the opportunity to share stories that reflect their experiences during the Coronavirus pandemic for the benefit of future generations.

Two children on a sidewalk are shown, the artists of a stylized chalk drawing of the word "Hope."“When we look back at what the state collected during the 1918 flu epidemic, we find government records, but few glimpses into what the crisis meant on a personal level,” Michigan History Center Director Sandra Clark said. “Our goal is to collect the stories of diverse Michiganders from across the state, and our hope is that the record we preserve in 2020 will help future generations understand what it felt like to live through this time.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is a critical moment in history, and the Michigan History Center is committed to documenting – through objects, archival materials, stories and experiences – how the Coronavirus is affecting Michigan residents in the workplace, at home, in communities and in many other settings.
“Archives and museums preserve and share the real stuff of the past, but we also have an obligation to collect and preserve the documents, images and objects that will help future residents understand our present,” Clark said.

Stages

The first phase of the three-phase collecting initiative is active right now. It offers a web-based platform for people to share and donate photos, videos and audio files that document their lives during this emergency – all of which will be considered for preservation in the Archives of Michigan’s collections.
The site includes an image gallery that allows others to see what people are posting, in real time.

Stories that have been submitted so far include:

  • “Being a mom is always hard. Being a mom during a pandemic is a whole new ballgame. Experiencing a global trauma comes with its own symptoms. As a mom, I have to attempt to either quickly process those symptoms or avoid them in order to stay in a good state of mind for my babies. This photo is the perfect example of that. I have a series of photos from this experience that show my son's worry, confusion and curiosity around this brand new, yet now normal, experience. It was my job to handle the situation in a way that didn’t create unnecessary fear or worry in him while also teaching him how important it is to be careful right now. It is my job to teach him how to cope during the unimaginable.” (Submitted by Megan H.)
  • “We started taking long hikes in the woods with our dog every day. It was emotionally healing to be in the woods and connected with nature.” (Submitted by Sarai S.)
  • “We understand Governor's policy of social distancing, but we cannot let social distancing distance our friendship. Love and friendship is what will get us through the crisis.” (Submitted by Fengyi C.)
  • “My 80-year-old mom died from Covid-19 after living in a Nursing Home. Please stay home and stay safe. This virus is not a hoax or a joke. She was healthy, just old. After contracting the virus, she struggled to breathe and spent a week in the hospital where they suctioned her lungs because she was too weak to sit up and cough. Her family could not visit her or be by her side during this time because of the precautions needed so that we would not contract the virus. The nursing home was on self-quarantine for several weeks before she contracted the virus so we could not see her for more than a month and then she died alone with only strangers in haz mat suits around her. This is why non-essential travel has been limited. It's not a civil rights issue it's a public health issue. No one has immunity from this disease.” (Submitted by Jeannie K.)
  • “My kids and I wanted to do something to encourage other people in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is normally very close-knit and its been hard not to interact like we normally would, especially as the weather gets warmer. We decided to make this sidewalk chalk message because we have so much hope that this too shall pass, and we will all be spending time together in each other's backyards again in the near future!” (Submitted by Angela R.)
  • “My wife and I are both compromised by pre-existing conditions and age. We have followed all the rules set by our Governor and are so far, we are fine, We are confident the our scientists will have a vaccine for Covid, but this is not the end. We will face something similar again. Our nation was woefully unprepared for this. We learned that we are not special. We are part of a much larger community. I am thankful for our Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for doing everything in her power to stop the spread.” (Submitted by Jon H.)

An exhausted healthcare worker rests on a medical bed.

The second phase of the project is collecting three-dimensional objects and documents related to the Coronavirus emergency for the Michigan History Museum system’s collections. In keeping with the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, this phase will begin with a call to the public to help identify items and move to physically gathering them once it is safe to do so.
The third phase involves long-term collecting of stories, through oral history and StoryCorps interviews, memoirs and other materials created during the reflection period after an immediate crisis. These materials will be preserved in both the museum and archival collections.

Learn more about the Collecting COVID-19 initiative at Michigan.gov/MHCStories.

In time of crisis, there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone and that we are not the first to experience the unimaginable. Looking back, we can see changes in science and knowledge and some similarities in human behavior.

The Michigan History Center hopes its Collecting COVID-19 project not only will document what is happening now, but also will help us and future generations understand the varied affects a pandemic can have on people and the diverse ways they cope and respond.

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

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Fire Wood Permits are Free in 2020; Apply Online Now

Fuelwood gathering

07MAY20-Michigan residents now can apply online for a free permit to cut fuelwood from dead and downed trees in approved areas of Michigan’s state forests.
Fuelwood season will begin May 1st, a month later than usual, because of statewide Department of Natural Resources office closures due to the COVID-19 virus.
DNR staff recommends that you visit the site where you plan to cut before applying for a permit. The quality and quantity of dead wood varies by location.
Current maps of areas where cutting will be allowed are available online. The permit form is at Michigan.gov/Fuelwood. Print it, complete it, and carry it with you when you are cutting wood. If you have already submitted an application and payment, your check will be returned to you along with your permit. Permits are good for 90 days after they’re issued; all permits expire Dec. 31st regardless of issue date.

Check fuelwood maps to make sure the area where you plan to cut is open for fuelwood. Permits are for use on designated state forest land in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. Permits allow for collection of up to five standard cords of wood per household. Wood is for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded. Wood must be dead and down within 200 feet of a road. No off-road use of vehicles is permitted to gather wood.
Permits normally cost $20 each; 2020 permits are free due to the effect of the COVID-19 virus on DNR staff availability. The DNR will assess the situation for 2021 after this fuelwood season has ended. Local DNR customer service centers and management unit offices are currently closed due to statewide measures against COVID-19. Staff is available by telephone.

If you have additional questions specifically regarding fuelwood permits, contact Doug Heym at 517-284-5867

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Silver Lake State Park ORV Area Expected to Open June 3rd

ORV vehicles riding Silver Lake sand dunes04MAY20-Visitors to the Silver Lake State Park ORV Area in Oceana County can tentatively plan for an opening date of Wednesday, June 3rd. That decision is in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extension, through May 15th, of her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (announced Friday) and the operational functions and preparation time associated with opening for the season.
The popular ORV scramble area typically opens April 1st each year. However, DNR parks and recreation staff recognized in mid-March that the Coronavirus situation likely would cause serious delays, and at that time the department postponed the opening date to May 1st and also closed many amenities at state parks and recreation areas. 
To prepare the ORV area for the riding season, tasks such as opening and cleaning bathrooms, hiring and training seasonal staff, maintaining infrastructure and making changes to safely reroute dune traffic will be completed once nonessential work is permitted. Staff is tentatively scheduled to begin working May 15th and the prep work is anticipated to take about three weeks.

Please note: Any further "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order changes that prohibit  nonessential services beyond May 15th could affect the opening date. Updates will be provided on the park website at Michigan.gov/SilverLake.
Visitors are encouraged to use this time to obtain ORV licenses and trail permits electronically at
Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. A Recreation Passport must also be displayed on all motorized vehicles.
Anyone planning to visit any state-managed land is encouraged to first visit the
DNR COVID-19 response page for updates and frequently asked questions on facility closures, changes in services and event/meeting cancellations.

For more information about Silver Lake State Park, contact park manager Jody Johnston at 231-721-5858 or JohnstonJ3@Michigan.gov.

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DNR Updates Opening Dates for Public Outdoor Recreation Sites

Under updated EO, most state parks, trail and boating access sites are open for local use; campgrounds, other lodging, shelters to open in phases

01MAY20-To help slow the spread of the Coronavirus and carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extended "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order through May 15th, the Department of Natural Resources has updated expected opening dates and available amenities at many of its public outdoor recreation sites and facilities.
Most state parks and recreation areas and state-managed trails and boating access sites remain open to provide local opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, but social distancing is key. Federal and state health officials consistently have said that keeping at least 6 feet away from those outside your household is vital to containing the virus spread.

Proposed facility reopening dates are based on the updated stay-at-home executive order that ends May 15th and are staggered to allow for proper preparation. Details on closures and changes in services, as well as frequently asked questions, are available on the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage at Michigan.gov/DNR.

The changes and planned public opening dates include the following, but further changes to the EO could affect these plans:

Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said he and his staff are eager to welcome back campers and visitors, but proper safety precautions and maintenance work must happen first.
“We know millions of residents are eager to return to state parks and recreation areas, and we will be here to serve them and make their visits as enjoyable as possible, but we have to open the right way and be certain that facilities and sites are clean, safe and ready to accommodate everyone,” Olson said.

Prep time needed to get facilities ready

To prepare state-managed parks, trails and boating facilities, many important tasks must be completed once nonessential work is permitted. The department anticipates staff can start work May 15th once the stay-at-home order is lifted; prep work is expected to take roughly five weeks. Duties include:

  • Acquiring drinking water permits from county health departments.
  • Opening bathrooms.
  • Hiring and training seasonal staff.
  • Ensuring sanitation systems are running efficiently.
  • Making progress on infrastructure needs.
  • Other operational duties.

Camping, overnight lodging and shelters set to open June 22nd

Camping and overnight lodging reservations for dates between May 15th and June 21st have been canceled, but the following reimbursement options are available:

  • Request to change reservation dates to later in the season (pending availability within the reservation booking window) and earn a free night for that time period. No reservation fees or cancellation/modification fees will be charged. Reservation holders who want this option must contact the call center at 800-447-2757 by May 15th at 8 p.m.
  • Choose a full refund to automatically be applied to original payment method, including the reservation fee. Reservation holders DO NOT need to take any action; all remaining reservations will automatically be canceled after May 15th, and an email will be sent when the refund is completed. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.

In addition, reservation holders whose camping reservations for stays between March 23rd and May 15th were canceled due to COVID-19 are eligible for a free night of camping on reservations made later in the season. Those who want to make a reservation or have already booked one for a later date should call 800-447-2757 by May 15th at 8 p.m. and have their canceled booking number handy.
Please note: Reservations extending beyond June 21st will be changed to a June 22nd arrival date and canceled nights will automatically be refunded to the original payment method.
Shelter reservations between May 15th and June 21st will automatically be canceled. Reservation holders for those dates will receive full refunds to the original payment method, including the reservation fee paid at the time reservations were made. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.

Questions can be directed to the reservation call center at 800-447-2757.

State forest campgrounds and DNR-operated harbors set to open June 10th

The DNR will extend closures in state forest campgrounds and DNR-operated harbors through at least June 9, allowing for additional time to prepare for public reopening.

Reservations for dates between May 15th and June 9th will automatically be canceled after May 15th for a full refund to the original payment method, unless a customer calls the call center at 800-447-2757 by May 15th at 8 p.m. to request a reservation be changed to a later date as outlined above (including one free night).

Boating access sites – availability and safety

DNR-managed boating access sites that already were open for the season and remained open during the stay-at-home order will remain open. The addition of various amenities, such as the placement of courtesy piers and the reopening of bathrooms at boating access sites, will begin as staff time and maintenance schedules allow.

The most recent stay-at-home order specifies that boating (including motorized) is now allowed, but people from different households are strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart.

Other operational announcements

  • Bathroom buildings and hand-washing stations are closed through at least June 3, although those facilities associated with campgrounds will remain closed until the campground opens. Trash service also has been halted during the same time frame; please leave the sites as you found them. Bring bags to carry out any trash with you.
  • Dispersed camping on approved state-managed lands is not permitted until at least May 15th.
  • Due to the extended stay-at-home order and operational functions associated with starting the season, the tentative opening date at Silver Lake State Park ORV Area in Oceana County is Wednesday, June 3rd. Staff is scheduled to return May 15 and the prep work is anticipated to take about three weeks. Read full press release.
  • In order to minimize face-to-face interactions and the exchange of money, the Recreation Passport requirement for vehicle entry to state parks and recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and state-managed boating access sites has been suspended until at least two weeks after the stay-at-home order ends.

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USDA Confirms Detection of Ralstonia Plant Pathogen in Michigan Greenhouse Geraniums

MDARD, USDA taking immediate action to safeguard U.S. agriculture against disease

01MAY20-The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 (RS r3b2) in a symptomatic geranium plant in a commercial greenhouse in Michigan. RS r3b2 is a bacterial pathogen causing a wilt disease in geraniums and several important food crops, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. It can be transmitted through contaminated soil, irrigation water, or equipment. Once an infection is present, there is no effective chemical control to manage the disease in the plants.

This incident was first identified by a vigilant Michigan grower who noticed unusual wilt symptoms on his geraniums and sent them for testing.
“Ensuring this issue is dealt with quickly and safely is crucial to protecting the state’s agriculture economy,” said Gary McDowell, Director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Thanks to the grower’s alertness, combined with MDARD’s and USDA’s collaborative response, we have helped avert the establishment of this devastating disease into U.S. agricultural production systems.”
“This is the first introduction of the pathogen in the U.S. since 2004, when this disease was detected and eradicated in 27 states, including 14 facilities in Michigan,” said Mike Philip, director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “It’s important to note the bacterium does not pose a threat to public or animal health or to food safety.” MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division oversees the department’s plant health programs and will lead Michigan’s efforts to rid the state of this disease.
The geranium that tested positive was a Fantasia ‘Pink Flare’ variety imported from a production facility in Guatemala. The USDA determined an additional 288 plant growers in 39 states received affected shipments from the Guatemalan facility, including 41 growers in Michigan. The affected businesses are being notified and will be working with state and federal officials to identify and safely dispose of infected plants.
“This incident is a serious threat to our industry,” said Geoff Hansen, executive director of the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council. “The affected facilities must work aggressively with MDARD to contain and eliminate this disease.”
In 2018, the wholesale value of Michigan’s floriculture industry totaled $467 million, the third largest in the United States. Potatoes are Michigan’s second leading produce commodity, generating $182 million in farm gate sales each year, while Michigan-grown tomatoes are valued at $35 million annually.

Michigan's Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

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DNR Updates Changes Proposed for Silver Lake Basin Boating Access Site in Marquette County

Department eyes small-scale improvements; access for boaters, anglers

01MAY20-Having gathered public input from boaters and anglers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will not develop the Silver Lake Basin boating access site in Marquette County as a walk-in-only facility.
Earlier this year, the department said it was considering installing a gate near the state-managed boating access to the 1,214-acre lake northwest of Marquette.

With increased popularity and use, several problems have resulted the proposal hoped to address, such as shoreline camping, littering and human waste.
“We’ve had a good deal of input from the public, including during a meeting held in February in Negaunee Township,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “Folks said they wanted us to keep the site relatively primitive, but to not make access more difficult by erecting a gate.”
Deb Gill, who oversees the site as part of her duties as unit supervisor at Van Riper and Craig Lake state parks, said some changes at Silver Lake were suggested.
“Public comment was in support of the existing condition with a few upgrades, including the addition of a gravel ramp, improved parking and a vault toilet, with the entrance road on DNR-managed property repaired through regular maintenance,” she said.
Gill said her staff will address “no camping” and other signage, trash cleanup and will work with DNR law enforcement officers to police potential issues as they arise.
Doug Rich, western Upper Peninsula district supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division, said DNR Fisheries Division and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Environment staffers are discussing potential funding sources for making the improvements.
The state of Michigan acquired the basin’s access site in 2015. Before that, the land surrounding the lake was almost entirely owned by corporate forest interests and a few other non-public use entities.
Beyond the camping and garbage concerns, invasive species pose a threat.
“Native land-locked whitefish are part of the fishery at Silver Lake. Whitefish populations are in peril in the Great Lakes region due to lakes becoming warmer over the past 30 years,” said George Madison, DNR fisheries manager. “With whitefish being a plankton-diet foraging fish, their numbers in the Silver Lake Basin would be negatively impacted if the invasive plankton known as the spiny water flea were to be introduced into this lake.”
Since the Silver Lake Basin is at the most upstream portion of the Dead River watershed, if any aquatic invasive species were transferred to this lake by larger boats, the invasive organisms could pass downstream to colonize four additional reservoirs in the Dead River watershed, threatening additional fish populations.
Anglers and boaters will be reminded to use best practices to help keep invasive species from reaching the Silver Lake Basin. The gravel boating ramp and the shallow water depth around the site will continue to discourage use by large watercraft.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.

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DNR to Allow Open Burning; Permits Still Required


28APR20-Just over a month since it suspended open burning across the state in response to COVID-19 concerns, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that it will begin issuing burn permits starting today. 

“We’re going to issue burn permits based on local fire risk and weather conditions, just as we have always done,” said Dan Laux, fire section supervisor for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “We still expect people to practice social distancing and use good sense to prevent the possible
 transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”

Laux said that firefighters, now with a month of experience during the COVID-19 emergency, have better protocols in place to slow the spread of the virus. 

The DNR issues burn permits online at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit if weather and fire danger conditions are favorable. In most of the southern Lower Peninsula, burn permits are issued by local fire departments and local government offices. Make sure to check local regulations before you burn.

Open burning of yard debris and brush were suspended March 26 to make firefighters available for emergencies related to COVID-19 and to protect first responders. With more favorable fuel conditions occurring as Michigan moves toward the “green-up” of vegetation where plants and trees are leafing out and filled with sap, fire potential can now be regulated based on local fire danger ratings. These ratings are based on weather conditions, including anticipated wind and rain.  

Year after year, burning yard debris is the top cause of wildfires in Michigan. People who want to burn are still expected to check in at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit to make sure fires are allowed on the day they want to burn.

More on open burning guidelines and safety

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Spring Brings Baby Wildlife and a Reminder to Let Them Be

Fawn curled up in the grass in the woods, bright sun

27-APR20-Baby bunnies are nestled in their nests, fawns will soon find their way through the forest, and songbird and waterfowl nests are popping up all over. In fact, last week we shared tips on what to do if you find a duck or goose nesting in your yard.

Remember that it’s not unusual to come across baby wildlife in springtime. Many wild mothers leave babies unattended and hidden to protect them from predators, but almost always are nearby and return periodically to care for their young when they feel it’s safe. Even most young birds found on the ground are under the watchful eyes of parents.

“The best thing you can do to help young wildlife is to simply leave them alone,” said Hannah Schauer, DNR wildlife communications coordinator. “Many wildlife, such as deer and rabbits, will leave young unattended as a survival strategy. Even though it may appear that a rabbit’s nest or a fawn is abandoned, they rarely are.”

Baby rabbits in a nestYour best decision is to leave a young animal in the wild where the mother can care for it and teach it how to survive.

On the rare occasion you come across an animal that is injured or truly abandoned, keep in mind that, in Michigan, it’s illegal to keep the animal unless you’re a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Under the current "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, some wildlife rehabilitators may have had to suspend services; call ahead to see whether they are able to assist at this time.

Additional information on what to do if you find a baby animal is available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Questions? Contact Hannah Schauer, 517-388-9678.

 

 

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DNR Incident Management Team Responds to Coronavirus

By KATHLEEN LAVEY - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

24APR20-When it comes to fighting wild land fires, members of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ incident management teams are accomplished pros.
An Upper Peninsula team led by Brian Mensch also has helped with natural disasters such as the historic 2018 flooding that devastated parts of Houghton County.
But Mensch and his crew are now in all-new territory: downtown Detroit, where the team was recruited to help manage operations at the TCF Regional Care Center (in what was previously Cobo Hall).

The facility, established to care for COVID-19 patients, opened April 10th.
“We’re doing a lot of different tasks related to operational and logistical support,” Mensch said. “We are tracking medical supplies, all food needs, special dietary needs for patients and staff, patient hydration needs, supplies to run the facility, security, the check-in process, medical supplies, the number of personnel in the facility, how fast supplies are used, the number of patients.”
The goal: Get everything into place when and where it’s needed and make sure that supplies don’t run short.
“We’re the nerve center, and we’re trying to apply the incident command structure to manage the facility and all the necessary related functions,” Mensch said.
The DNR incident management team is a small but critical part of the overall operations team at the TCF Regional Care Center. The alternate care facility includes a triage area, patient support services, staff changing areas, a pharmacy, administrative space and a command center.
A partnership of health care providers including Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Beaumont Health and the Detroit Medical Center is providing support, staffing and resources, working with Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Mensch and four other DNR staffers – Rose Wilbur, Scott Lakosky, Glenn Palmgren and Peter Costa – are on a two-week assignment that started April 9th. They are expected to remain at the TCF Center at least until April 24th.
While Mensch is the incident management team commander, Lakosky oversees safety, Palmgren is planning section chief, Costa deals with operations and Wilbur is responsible for logistics.
Of the DNR’s four incident management teams, two are based in the Upper Peninsula and two in the Lower Peninsula, said Dan Laux, fire section supervisor for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, which houses all four IMTs.
“Wildfire, floods, hurricanes, pandemic or whatever the incident, the management concept is the same,” Laux said. “The goal is to bring a level of organization to help respond to emergencies.”
Teams can vary in size. Some have a half-dozen members; others have many more depending on the incident. They most often include a leader, public information officer, liaison to work with other organizations, and people with planning, logistics and operations expertise.
“Incident management teams are the leadership we bring forward to put in a whole formula of checks and balances,” Laux said.
That includes identifying incident objectives and setting tactical guidance, along with accountability, safety and meeting the logistical needs for resources assigned to the incident.
“The team works with agency administrators to follow through and meet the goals and objectives for the event,” Laux said. “It brings some level or organization to what could be a chaotic situation. It accounts for every individual involved in the incident, from the firefighter or medical person on the ground on up. There’s somebody always keeping track of individuals and keeping things at a manageable level.”
At the TCF Center, the DNR team is headquartered in a concrete-floored convention space with folding walls. From the command center, they are on the phone and computers making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible for staff and patients.
It’s a so-called “cold zone,” separated from anyone who has been exposed to the virus.
The care center already had been set up when the DNR team arrived, thanks to help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District and from the Michigan National Guard.
Stepping in, the DNR’s incident management team’s first challenge was to provide stability and an operational structure for those already providing support to a growing team of health care providers. 
“We needed to get all the agencies used to us being available and to make our presence known,” Mensch said. “Our job is to take the burdens off their shoulders. Every day we get a little more information and we are able to be more accurate and able to fit into this operation.”
That might mean delegating National Guard helpers to a supply crew, watching over cleaning crews and working with health care providers. The team’s shifts can last for up to 16 hours at a time.
Mensch hopes to have everything running as smoothly as possible before the team returns home.
“We’re taking it hour by hour and day by day, working with the organizational chart and making it work for this situation,” he said. “We’re on this team for a reason and we know how to make an organization work.”

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

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Trees at Higher Risk of Oak Wilt Now Through Mid-July

oak wilt 300

21APR20-If you have oak trees – especially red oaks – now is the time to be wary of oak wilt spores carried by flying beetles.
From April 15th to July 15th, oak trees are at high risk for oak wilt, a serious fungal disease that can weaken white oaks and kill red oak trees within a few weeks of infection.  
“The guidelines against pruning oak trees during this period are a way to help prevent the spread of the disease,” said James Wieferich, forest health specialist in the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “Unfortunately, many people learn not to prune or otherwise wound trees from mid-April to mid-July only after they lose their oaks to oak wilt.”

Fungus travels by insects, through root grafts 

Once a tree is infected, the fungus also can move to neighboring red oaks through root grafts. Oaks within about 100 feet of each other – depending on the size of the trees – have connected, or grafted, root systems. Left untreated, oak wilt will continue to move from tree to tree, killing more red oaks over an increasingly larger area. As more trees die from oak wilt, more fungal spores are produced, which allows the beetle to carry infection to new locations.
Oak wilt was first identified in the 1940s and is now widespread across Michigan. Red oaks are most susceptible to the disease. These trees have leaves with pointed tips and include black oaks, northern red oaks and northern pin oaks. Trees in the white oak group have rounded leaf edges and include white oaks and swamp white oaks. They are less susceptible.
Symptoms most often appear from late June until September. Affected trees will suddenly begin to wilt from the top down, rapidly dropping leaves, which can be green, brown or a combination of both colors.

Take steps to reduce risks to your trees

The high-risk period of infection occurs from April 15 to July 15, so it's important to avoid pruning or injuring oak trees during this time. If you have a tree that gets damaged during the risk period, immediately cover all wounds with tree-wound paint or latex-based paint.
Don’t move firewood, especially if it comes from oaks that may have died from oak wilt, as firewood can harbor the fungus. If you suspect your firewood is infected by oak wilt, you can help slow the spread by burning it, chipping it or debarking it before April. Once the firewood has been dried over a year and/or all the bark loosens, the firewood can no longer spread oak wilt.
To minimize the risk of oak wilt infection caused by logging damage, the DNR restricts cutting of red oak trees on state-managed land between April 15th and July 15th.
The DNR recommends private forest landowners exercise caution during this period and, whenever possible, delay harvesting activity in oak forests until after July 15th.

What to do if you suspect oak wilt 

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Campground Closures Extended Through May 15th

A beautiful night sky view from Big Bear Lake State Forest Campground17APR20-To help further slow the spread of COVID-19, the DNR has extended campground closures at state parks and recreation areas and state forest campgrounds through mid-May. Day-use areas in state parks and recreation areas, state-managed trails and boating access sites currently are open to provide local opportunities to get outdoors; however, many park amenities have been closed and services have been reduced.

Reservations for dates through the night of May 14th are adjusted as follows:

  • Camping and state harbor reservations through May 14th are automatically canceled. Reservation holders will receive full refunds, including their normally nonrefundable reservation fee.
  • If a reservation extends past May 14th, arrival dates will be adjusted to May 15th and reservation holders will receive a refund for canceled nights.
  • Reservation holders will receive email notifications once cancellations are processed. Refunds will be applied to the original payment method.

“We want to accommodate our valued camping customers and make these difficult circumstances as fair and easy as possible,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

For full details and FAQs, customers can visit Michigan.gov/Camping or e-mail DNR-Reservations@Michigan.gov.

Questions? Contact Jason Fleming at 517-930-6726 or Christa Sturtevant-Good at 231-861-2703.

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Stick to Local Forests for Spring Morel Hunting

Morels cooking in a cast iron skillet17APR20-A sure sign of spring is nearly here: morels! As sunshine and April rains wake up the forests, the annual search for the elusive mushrooms is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. You can find them from late April to early June, and – according to Michigan State University Extension – they’re believed to grow in every Michigan county.
Most Michiganders will tell you that the location of a good morel patch is a matter of utmost secrecy. This makes mushroom hunting a perfect chance to practice the 6-foot-minimum social distancing that is such a critical step in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. Mushroom hunters should plan to search locally, too, and only with people who live in their household.
To find morels, target hilly areas with plenty of hardwood trees like maple, beech and oak, checking for burn scars where a wildfire or prescribed burn has occurred. Pick a warm day after a rain to start your hunt, when mushrooms are most likely to have bloomed. When heading to the woods, take a mesh bag for carrying your prizes, a knife (always cut, never pull morels) and a map of your hunting area.

Learn how to find morels, tell a false one from a real one, prepare them, and boost your odds of success – with a map showing sites of last year’s wildfires and prescribed burns – at Michigan.gov/MiMorels.

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Michigan Launches History Collecting Initiative to Capture COVID-19 Experiences for Future Generations

Three women wearing homemade face masks17APR20-The Michigan History Center today announced a new collecting initiative that gives residents the opportunity to share stories that reflect their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the benefit of future generations. The COVID-19 pandemic is a critical moment in history, and the Michigan History Center is committed to documenting – through objects, archival materials, stories and experiences from diverse Michiganders – how the Coronavirus is affecting Michigan residents in the workplace, at home, in communities and in many other settings.
The
first phase of the three-phase collecting initiative is active right now. It offers a web-based platform for people to share and donate photos, videos and audio files that document their daily lives during this emergency – all of which will be considered for preservation in the Archives of Michigan’s collections. The following questions can provide a starting point in choosing what to share:

  • How are you communicating with family, friends and colleagues?
  • Have certain places become more important to you?
  • What is something that has brought you unexpected joy?
  • What steps have you taken to protect your health and the health of others?

Home made rectangular face masks sit next to a sewing machine“Archives and museums preserve and share the real stuff of the past, but we also have an obligation to collect and preserve the documents, images and objects that will help future residents understand our present,” said Sandra Clark, Michigan History Center director.
“There is no question that the Coronavirus emergency that is so deeply affecting all our lives is a significant history-making time. That’s why the Michigan History Center is launching this collecting project now,” Clark said. “We hope, too, that the shared experiences will strengthen our state’s sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation.”

Phase 2: 3D objects

The second phase is collecting three-dimensional objects and documents related to the Coronavirus emergency for the Michigan History Museum system’s collections. In keeping with the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, this phase will begin with a call to the public to help identify items and move to physically gathering them once it is safe to do so.

Phase 3: Interviews and stories

The third phase involves long-term collecting of stories, through oral history and StoryCorps interviews, memoirs and other materials that are created during the reflection period after an immediate crisis. These materials will be preserved in both the museum and archival collections.

Michigan residents can learn more about the initiative at Michigan.gov/MHCStories.

The Michigan History Center, part of the Department of Natural Resources, fosters curiosity, enjoyment and inspiration rooted in Michigan’s stories. Its 12 museums and historic sites and the Archives of Michigan provide opportunities for Michiganders to actively learn about and research their heritage and the history of Michigan through exhibits, special events, online resources and diverse programming. We base these experiences on Michigan’s museum and archival collections, which document the history of the state and its diverse peoples. We actively collect around Michigan’s continuing stories.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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Forest Health Report Shares Tree Pest and Disease Updates

Looking up through the canopy of a healthy forest17APR20-Love hiking in the forest, drizzling maple syrup on pancakes or taking photos of flowering trees in spring? Then we think you’ll appreciate learning about the work the DNR Forest Health team does to keep Michigan’s trees green and thriving. The just-released 2019 Michigan Forest Health Highlights report tracks efforts to battle insects and diseases harming our state’s trees and shares information about the threats the team is following.

“Our goal is to prevent the introduction and spread of organisms that harm Michigan’s forests,” said DNR forest health manager Sue Tangora. “The Forest Health Highlights report collects our findings, efforts and research from universities.”

The report is sent each year to the U.S. Forest Service, along with data from other states to provide a national look at forest health. Michigan articles are contributed by the DNR, other state agencies and university partners including Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University.

This year’s report highlights the battle against the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny, aphid-like insect that sucks the sap out of hemlock trees, and oak wilt, a disease that threatens previously healthy stands of this hardy, majestic tree species, plus the training and collaboration helping to fight these threats. Other topics include watch list species (those posing an immediate or potential threat to Michigan's economy, environment or human health), scientific research, status of native and invasive pests and ways to report suspected invasive species.

Questions? Visit Michigan.gov/ForestHealth or contact James Wieferich at 517-284-5866.

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Be A Good Neighbor; Leave Duck and Goose Nests Alone

A mallard hen in a wetlands area (photo courtesy of USFWS National Digital Library)17APR20-Duck nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to pop up everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build them in landscaping, gardens or other locations that people may find inappropriate, or at least inconvenient. If you spot one, it’s best to leave the nest alone and keep pets away from it, too. The hen will lead her young to water soon after they hatch.
Canada geese, which sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, also will quickly shepherd their chicks to water. Adult geese are very protective and may hiss and run or fly toward perceived intruders. Try to avoid nesting areas, but if that’s not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away by opening and closing it.
On the rare occasion that you come across an animal that is injured or truly abandoned, please keep in mind that, in Michigan, it’s illegal to keep the animal unless you’re a
licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Under the current Stay Home Stay Safe Executive Order, some wildlife rehabilitators may have had to suspend services; call ahead to see whether they are able to assist at this time.

Everyone can play a part in successfully sharing space with wildlife in our communities. Get additional tips and information on handling conflicts with wildlife and what to do if you find a baby animal at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Questions? Contact DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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How to Haze a Coyote, Reduce Wildlife Conflicts

head and shoulders image of a coyote facing the camera, in the woods

15APR20-Forests, fields, farmlands, backyards, neighborhoods and cities … coyotes can be found just about anywhere. These wily creatures may be more visible from January until March during their breeding season, and then also in the spring and summer months as they care for new pups.

Many residents have reported more frequent coyote sightings, probably due in part because coyotes can grow more comfortable living near people – particularly if there are nearby, easy-access food sources available. Smaller mammals, like mice and rabbits, are a coyote’s main source of food.

Do your part to discourage coyotes from visiting your neighborhood and reduce potential conflicts by:

  • Removing trash bins, bird feeders, pet food and other attractants.
  • Never intentionally feeding or trying to tame coyotes.
  • Fencing off gardens and fruit trees.
  • Clearing out wood and brush piles.
  • Accompanying pets (especially smaller ones) outdoors and not letting them roam free.
  • Taking advantage of a coyote’s natural fear of humans and scaring them off. Not sure how? Check out this video to learn how to properly and safely haze a coyote.

Learn more about coyotes and find additional tips on how to handle conflicts with wildlife at Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact DNR Wildlife Division, 517-284-9453.

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Learn About Nature and History From Home

Nature at Home website screenshot

15APR20-With Michigan's school-age children now home for the rest of the school year, a lot of families are looking for educational activities and resources to fill the learning gap. DNR educators, with help from many partner organizations, pulled together an extensive list of links and materials focused on the outdoors and history that offer a variety of opportunities for at-home education and fun. These resources are available at Michigan.gov/NatureAtHome.

“DNR educators are here to share natural resources and Michigan history information and to engage students, teachers and families to explore the outdoors and our state’s heritage,” said Kevin Frailey, DNR Education Services manager. “We have already heard from teachers telling us how they’re using the resources in their online lessons with their students. This webpage is a way to keep the learning going while we’re all staying home and staying safe.”

The webpage includes:

  • Nature lesson videos, presented by DNR educators, about Michigan fish, wildlife, trees and more.
  • Easy ways to explore and engage with nature, including scavenger hunts, games and other fun family activities.
  • Virtual field trips and online tours.
  • Indoor and outdoor nature activities and lessons by grade level.
  • Suggested reading materials.
  • Natural resources photos and information to help kids learn about and identify Michigan fish, wildlife, trees and minerals.
  • Lists of free nature apps, social media pages and websites where families can find more learning tools.

More resources will be added to the page as they become available, so check back often. Questions? Contact Natalie Elkins at ElkinsN@Michigan.gov or MiProjectWild@Gmail.com or 517-290-0687.

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Some April Public Meetings Go "Virtual", Others Canceled

Smiling woman wearing glasses and headphones, in front of a laptop

15APR20-Every month, the DNR holds public meetings around the state to provide Michigan residents with opportunities to share their ideas and ask questions about policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resources management and outdoor recreation opportunities. To help carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order and further protect the health and safety of residents and staff, the DNR has changed some April meetings to teleconference or virtual meetings and canceled others.

Frequently check the DNR boards, commissions, committees and councils webpages for updates. If you need assistance connecting with a DNR program or public body not listed on that page, please contact DNR-Public-Info@Michigan.gov.

 

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Huron-Manistee National Forest Developed Sites Closed

13APR20-Consistent with federal and state health and safety guidance the Huron-Manistee U.S. Forestry service is closing all developed camp sites and scenic areas while suspending trash pickup and closing restrooms and horse camps to protect its employees.

Citizens are still permitted to hike and enjoy the areas, they will not be monitored by forestry personnel, but could be occasionally patrolled by county sheriff's police.  Citizens are asked to maintain social distancing guidelines or face legal action for violations.

Huron-Manistee National Forests is open to recreation, but please be prepared and recreate responsibly. We also encourage you to follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing while you recreate in National Forests.

Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High-risk activities such as backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.

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Most State Park, Trail and Boating Facilities Remain Open, but Social Distancing Must be Maintained

13APR20-To help slow the spread of the Coronavirus and in accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, the Department of Natural Resources continues to monitor visitation and adherence to social-distancing requirements at DNR-managed facilities. This means continually assessing needed adjustments to services and closures that best protect visitors, staff and the local communities.
A vast majority of state parks and recreation areas, state-managed trails and boating access sites remain open to provide local opportunities to get outdoors; however, all locations have modified services and/or closed amenities.
Recently, Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County was closed until further notice due to high numbers of visitors, lack of improper social distancing and people traveling long distances to reach the park.
"Throughout the stay-at-home order, we’ve seen an influx of visitors at state parks, boating access sites and trails," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "In order to continue to keep state parks and trails open, we expect everyone to follow effective social distancing practices, to not litter and not travel long distances to enjoy the outdoors.
“If concerns continue to build, the DNR will have to look at closing or further limiting access to our state-designated trails, state parks, boating access sites and other outdoor locations,” he said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and additional information has become available to state, health and DNR officials, the following reminders and announcements are in place.

Do not litter. Please carry in, carry out

It’s been reported by both visitors and staff that a significant amount of trash has been left in state parks and boating access sites and at trailheads. Because of limited staff and the need to minimize public contact, trash services have been reduced in DNR-managed locations to dumpsters in designated locations. Visitors are asked to help protect our natural resources and bring a trash bag and “carry in, carry out” their trash and recyclables.

Social-distancing offenses could result in fines

The Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order April 2 that sets a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for not complying with executive orders banning gatherings and nonessential businesses, including social distancing (not keeping at least 6 feet between individuals) and a process for referral to licensing agencies for violations of Executive Orders 2020-11, 2020-20 and 2020-21. Criminal penalties for violation will remain an option for prosecutors.

Motorized and non-motorized trails open for local visitors only

Even though the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order allows for engagement in outdoor activities, the DNR is asking visitors to stay local and not travel far distances to hike, run, bicycle or ride an ORV. Under the order, extensive travel is permitted only for essential needs.

DTE Energy Foundation Trail parking lot closures

The two primary parking lots for Waterloo Recreation Area’s DTE Energy Foundation Trail are closed due to reports of people gathering at trailheads and mountain biking trails and not adhering to social-distancing requirements. The parking lots are located on Cassidy Road and M-52 in Chelsea. The trail remains open for local use, and visitors should park in alternative and appropriate lots. There is no parking along M-52, and people are encouraged to bike into the trails to avoid crowding at other parking spots.

Dispersed camping

To help minimize nonessential travel, dispersed camping on public lands is closed until further notice. This falls in line with state park and recreation area campgrounds and state forest campgrounds that are also closed until further notice.

Fishing

Fishing is allowed, and the 2020 season is now open. Fishing is one outdoor activity that can be done with proper social distancing – just make sure to remain 6 feet away, or a fishing rod’s distance, from others and stay local.

Nonessential travel

The DNR continues to support the governor’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, which includes that nonessential travel is not permissible, including travel to state parks, trails and other outdoor destinations outside the local area. Traveling outside local communities could unintentionally increase the spread of COVID-19 into nearby communities.

Keep the following guidelines in mind

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
  • Long-distance travel is discouraged unless it is essential.
  • Individuals must maintain a minimum of 6 feet between themselves and people of other households. Anyone not following the social distancing requirement may face a civil penalty of up to $1,000.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide air flow. Do not drive with people who don’t live in your household.
  • If the parking lot is full when attempting to visit a park, recreation area, boating access site or trailhead, leave and choose a different nearby location.

Know before you go

Anyone planning to visit any state-managed land is first encouraged to visit the DNR COVID-19 response page for updates and frequently asked questions on facility closures, changes in services and event/meeting cancellations. Follow Michigan.gov/DNRClosures for the latest information.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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Sellers of Live, Non-Native Aquatic Species Required to Register and Report Sales

08APR20-Do you sell live aquatic animals or plants in Michigan? State law now requires businesses and individuals offering live, non-native aquatic organisms for sale in Michigan to register annually with the Department of Natural Resources.

Registration can be completed in a few minutes online at Michigan.gov/SellAquatics. The registering seller will receive a confirmation number and can download a registration certificate. After recording the number on the certificate, it should be visibly posted at the selling location. Registration must be updated every year and expires December 31st of the issuing year.

Who needs to register?

Aquatic seller logoAnyone selling non-native aquatic plants or animals in Michigan must register, including:

  • Wholesale vendors.
  • Retail vendors and shops.
  • Hobbyists.
  • Water garden shops and nurseries.

Some activities, such as sales of aquatic species for human consumption, are exempt. Visit Michigan.gov/SellAquatics for more information.

Sales at multiple locations

Hobbyists and vendors who sell at different events throughout the year must register separately for each event location. Likewise, businesses operating through multiple storefronts must register each sales location separately and retain the appropriate certificate at each store.

Hosting a trade show?

All auctions, trade shows or events in Michigan offering aquatic species for sale must complete the trade show notification online form at least 10 days before the event. Trade show hosts are encouraged to remind sellers and auction donors to register with the DNR and have a registration certificate on hand at the sale.

Annual reporting

RIPPLE program aquariumAll registered sellers are required to report sale information to the DNR by March 31st of each year. The online reporting form requests the name (common and scientific) and number of individual aquatic species sold during the previous calendar year.

Some species are exempt from reporting; however, all sellers must submit a report regardless of the species sold. The form provides additional information on species exemptions.

If you were a registered seller in 2019, please complete your annual reports as soon as possible. The 2019 report should include species sold between March 21, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019.

For more information on registration and reporting requirements, visit Michigan.gov/SellAquatics.

Michigan's Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

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Crowded Conditions Close Tippy Dam Rec. Area, More Are Likely

DNR encourages responsible recreation as it monitors COVID-19 risks at state parks and recreation areas

07APR20-To help slow the spread of the Coronavirus and carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, the Department of Natural Resources is closely monitoring visitor levels and adherence to social-distancing measures at Michigan state parks and recreation areas and other DNR-managed locations.
Due to a surge in visitors at state parks over the last two weeks – including at Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County – DNR staff have observed many instances of improper social distancing (not keeping at least 6 feet between individuals) and visitors traveling long distances to visit these outdoor spaces.

Tippy Dam has seen a drastic increase in visitors, including people from all areas of the state. This type of nonessential travel could unintentionally increase the spread of COVID-19. To protect visitors, staff and nearby communities, the DNR has closed Tippy Dam Recreation Area, effective immediately, until further notice. The south side access, which is on land managed by Consumers Energy, also will be closed until further notice.
The closure is a result of a
Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 4 of 2020, signed today by DNR Director Dan Eichinger. Anyone entering Tippy Dam Recreation Area by vehicle, foot or bicycle may receive a civil infraction with fines up to $500.
For now, all other state parks and recreation areas, trails and boating access sites remain open to help provide local opportunities to get outdoors; however, social distancing practices must be adhered to in order to keep these state-managed lands open.
"The concern is twofold: residents traveling long distances and unintentionally spreading COVID-19 and visitors congregating too closely," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "In order to continue to keep state parks open, we urge everyone to follow effective social distancing practices, including only visiting state parks locally and avoiding high-traffic areas within parks."

Know before you go

Anyone planning to visit any state-managed land is first encouraged to visit the DNR COVID-19 response page for updates on facility closures, changes in services and event/meeting cancellations. Follow Michigan.gov/DNRClosures for the latest information.

Please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
  • Long-distance travel is discouraged unless it is essential.
  • Individuals must maintain a minimum of 6 feet between themselves and people of other households. Anyone not following the social-distancing requirement may face misdemeanor violation/arrest penalties, including up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide air flow. Do not drive with people who don’t live in your household.
  • If the parking is full when attempting to visit a park, recreation area, boating access site or trailhead, leave and choose a different location.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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With The Governor's Orders, Can I Still Go fishing?

young boy wearing a jacket and cap, holding a fish he caught

06MAR20-We understand there are questions about how COVID-19 is affecting outdoor recreation. Right now, yes, fishing is permitted, and the 2020 season opens April 1st. In fact, fishing is one outdoor activity that can be done with proper social distancing – just make sure to remain 6 feet away from people outside of your household and be respectful of others. Also, keep it local. Extensive travel is allowed only for essential needs. Limiting your travel helps keep you and others safe, while also reducing the spread of COVID-19.

 

If you decide to go fishing, it’s easy to get your 2020 license online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. For the latest fishing regulations, check out the 2020 Fishing Guide at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.

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Be A Good Neighbor; Act Now to Prevent Wildlife Conflicts

A bear and her cubs eat from a bird feeder on the lawn

06MAR20-Warmer weather means many animals are seeking food to feed their young. During this time, help your community – and be a good neighbor to wildlife – and consider removing bird feeders and other food sources that might attract wildlife.

Bird feeders can attract a variety of wildlife, not just birds. Other species, including squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, opossums and bears, will take advantage of the easy access. Mice, chipmunks and other small animals visiting your feeders could draw larger predators like hawks, coyotes and foxes.

If you live in the Lower Peninsula or parts of the western U.P., make sure deer can’t get to your bird feeders. Feeding deer is prohibited in these areas to limit the spread of wildlife diseases. Follow these tips for feeding the birds in areas where deer feeding bans are in place.

More tips on handling conflicts with wildlife are available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.
Questions? Contact the
DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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Forest Legacy Program Nomination Applications Now Available

An autumn view of the Pigeon River County State Forest

06MAR20-The value of thriving green spaces where people can spread out and enjoy nature perhaps has never been more apparent than now, as the world adapts to life with COVID-19. In Michigan, some of our most beautiful public land is made possible through the Forest Legacy Program, a nationally competitive program administered by the U.S. Forest Service that uses federal and matching funds to protect environmentally important forest lands. 

Projects include lands that are home to threatened or endangered species, wildlife corridors, or rivers and streams. The most recent example is the nearly 600 acres of prime elk habitat added to the Pigeon River Country State Forest earlier this year, thanks to Forest Legacy Program funding. The federal program provides money to help purchase land or land rights for the public to use and enjoy for generations to come. Michigan’s program also requires that land remains open to the public, at least for non-motorized access. 

Projects nominated by June 19th will be considered to potentially compete for funding during fiscal year 2022, which begins Oct. 1, 2021. Find nomination application forms and get more information at Michigan.gov/PrivateForestLand or contact Kerry Wieber at 517-643-1256. 

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Get Your Recreational Safety Certificates From Home

state of Michigan boater safety education course screen shot

06MAR20-You can earn your boating, snowmobile or ORV safety certificate from home with the DNR’s self-paced, online courses available at Michigan.gov/RecreationalSafety. To protect the health of Michigan residents, all traditional classroom setting courses for these program areas have been canceled until further notice, including hunter education field days. The online portion of the hunter safety course is still available. If you have questions about a recreational safety class you were signed up for, please contact the instructor.

With online learning, you can stay home, stay safe and help keep yourself and fellow Michiganders healthy.

 

 


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Burn Permits Suspended Across Michigan Due to COVID-19

01APR20-In response to the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, permits for open burning will be suspended across the state. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the order Monday, aimed at further protecting public health and safety.
“We need to make sure our emergency response resources are available where they are needed at this time,” said Dan Laux, fire supervisor for the DNR Forest Resources Division. “Less open burning means less potential for escaped fires, and that means staff can deal with other, more critical needs.”

Because firefighters often work closely together on scene and when traveling to and from incident locations, the suspension of burn permits also will help protect first responders and fire fighters from infection by the novel Coronavirus.
“It’s out of an abundance of caution that we want to support the statewide effort to fight COVID-19,” Laux said. “Suspending burn permits in much of the state means fewer people will be burning debris which is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Michigan.”
State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer agreed, adding: “This preventative approach to limiting wild land fires is important so that first responders can continue making medical calls during this health crisis.”
Open burning in some parts of the state may still be allowed in areas where the ground is still snow-covered.
Burn permits in the southern Lower Peninsula are issued by local fire departments and governmental offices. In the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, permits are issued through the DNR’s website
Michigan.gov/BurnPermit. Residents are encouraged to frequently check the website to see when restrictions are lifted.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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DNR Reduces Amenities at State Parks, Recreation Areas and Trails

To protect public health, violations of social distancing guidelines may result in misdemeanor fines, penalties

01APR20-To help carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order and further protect public health and safety, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is closing many amenities offered in state parks and recreation areas, effective now through at least April 13th.
State parks and recreation areas currently remain open to provide residents with local opportunities to get outdoors; however, extensive travel should be minimal – and reserved only for essential needs – and effective social distancing (of at least 6 feet between yourself and another person) is required so that unsafe conditions do not develop and state-managed lands can remain open.

“We are doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff at state parks and recreation areas,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “No matter how people are choosing to get outdoors, it is critical that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines. If they don’t, we will be forced to close public access to all state-managed lands.”

Closures and reduction in services include:

  • Many park amenities have been closed in order to minimize the chance of people gathering in groups and/or maximize the environment for effective social distancing. Current closures include, but are not limited to, concessions, playgrounds and play equipment, viewing platforms, fishing piers, GaGa ball bits, volleyball and basketball courts, designated dog areas, disc golf courses, radio-controlled flying fields, pump tracks, and picnic tables and shelters.
  • All bathroom buildings and vault toilets will be closed in all state parks and recreation areas, including those at campgrounds, boating access sites, trailheads at state-designated trails, etc. People are encouraged to plan accordingly to avoid needing a restroom during a visit. Note: Over the next few days, vault toilets will be closing. Many locations, where available, will be transitioning to portable toilets that will be cleaned by local vendors.
  • There will be minimal trash service available. Visitors are encouraged to bring trash bags, if needed, to carry trash home and minimize litter.
  • No hand washing stations will be provided. Please carry hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes containing at least 60% alcohol, as well as trash bags to carry out used wipes.
  •  Additionally, grooming of snowmobile trails (the season closes March 31st) and grooming, brushing, grading and clearing of all non-motorized trails and ORV trails are suspended until at least the end of the order. When out on any trail, be aware of surroundings, including the potential for washouts or debris. To report anything that could be a risk to other trail users, call 517-331-0111.
  •  For the duration of this order, the DNR is unable to reimburse trail sponsors or grant sponsors for any trail-related work.

Follow the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage for the latest closure information related to events, meetings and facilities, including campgrounds, harbors and other sites.

Executive order mandates social distancing; fines/penalties possible

To help uphold the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, individuals must maintain a minimum of 6 feet between themselves and other people. Anyone not following the social distancing requirement may face misdemeanor violation/arrest penalties, including up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500.

Social distancing practices are a top priority for any time spent outside an individual’s home or place of residence. They include:

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
  • Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and another person.
  • Long-distance travel is discouraged unless it is essential.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide air flow.
  • If the parking is full when attempting to visit a park, recreation area, boating access site or trailhead, leave and choose a different location.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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DNR - Charter Fishing and Guide Operations Not Permitted

01APR20-In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the governor’s Executive Order 2020-21, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has determined that charter and fishing guide operations that involve boats, canoes and other marine vessels are not currently permitted.
These operations do not meet any of the variances or exemptions outlined in the governor’s order as activities necessary “to sustain or protect life,” and they may also congregate anglers in violation of the order and state health recommendations.
These activities should cease immediately and not resume until at least April 30th.
In addition to the DNR’ Law Enforcement Division, Michigan State Police and local law enforcement agencies have full authority to enforce the provisions of this order.
The state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in reducing the Coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

For current and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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Haywire for a Half A Century

By DOUG DONNELLY - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A gathered crowd listens to presentations at the Haywire Grade’s 50th anniversary snowmobile ride.01APR20-Michigan’s first rail trail is 50 years old.  Some residents who live near the Haywire Grade, a multi-use trail that crosses the Upper Peninsula north to south from Shingleton to Manistique, are glad the trail is getting the recognition it deserves.
“I’d say over the past four years, Michigan has truly started to recognize the significance of the Haywire,” said Gerry Reese, who has owned property near the trail for nearly 30 years and is a part of the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trail Association.
A yearlong celebration of the Haywire Grade kicked off in February with a snowmobile ride and will continue throughout the year with equine, ORV/ATV and bicycle events as local, regional and state officials commemorate the trail’s history.
The celebration of the Haywire rail trail has been in the making for five years.
“There are a lot of partners that picked up the pieces of this project and a lot of people who have come together for this,” Reese said. “There are still some residents in the area who are unaware of the trail’s rich history. We want to change that.”

History

A wintry view of the Haywire Grade is shown.With more than 2,600 miles logged, Michigan has converted more miles of abandoned railroad corridor into trails than any other state. This conversion is done through a process called rail banking. The trails, some paved and some not, are used for recreation purposes, but may be recalled to railroad service and the recreation trails rerouted should the need arise.
The first rail-trail in Michigan was the Haywire Grade in Schoolcraft and Alger counties.
Established in 1970, two years after the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad ceased operation, the Haywire Grade runs 32 miles. Originally planned for seasonal snowmobile use, the Haywire has since become a popular year-round multi-use trail.
“People have long used the trail for a variety of activities,” Reese said. “It was very common to see an equestrian rider, and at the same time someone walking. It’s truly a multi-use trail.”

The trail’s historical significance dates to the late 1800s. The Manistique and Northwestern Railroad began operation in 1898 and reorganized as the Manistique and Lake Superior in 1909.
The railroad served the logging industry and fostered settlement in the region. Many of the trees harvested from the area were sent to Illinois to help rebuild after the Great Chicago Fire.

Interpretation

Schoolcraft County Motorized Trail Association members attach a celebration banner between trail groomers.Stories like this are being permanently memorialized through a series of 11 historical interpretive kiosks that will be installed along the trail as a part of the golden anniversary celebration.
“We want the Haywire Grade’s 50th anniversary to acknowledge and celebrate this important milestone for Michigan’s trail network, and at the same time help trail users interact with the heritage of this beautiful area for years to come,” said Dan Spegel, Michigan’s heritage trail coordinator.
The kiosks themselves are part of that history, as they were fabricated with steel from Upper Peninsula railroad tracks and cedar logs grown in the region. Each kiosk also contains metal art depicting a train engine and Manistique and Lake Superior railroad cars.
“We designed the kiosks to have that rustic flavor, but also the railroad and the logging camp flavor,” Reese said.
As Michigan’s heritage trail coordinator, Spegel works on projects like this one to help shed light on some amazing history around Michigan’s 13,000 miles of state-designated trails.

Since 2015, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Michigan History Center has helped communities around the state create a deeper sense and experience of “place” for trail users through its Heritage Trails Program.
“Heritage trails connect people with the natural and cultural heritage of the landscape they are passing through,” Spegel said.

Celebration

A photo of snowmobilers gathered for the Haywire Grade's 50th anniversary celebration is shown.The Haywire Grade’s golden anniversary celebration includes four events.
The first was a snowmobiling event held Feb. 29. Spegel said starting off with a snowmobile ride was fitting since that’s how the trail began.
“The 50th anniversary snowmobile ride was a celebration of the Haywire Grade’s significance to Michigan’s trail network,” Spegel said.
The event kicked off at the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trail Association clubhouse with refreshments and presentations by DNR representatives. Participants then rode the freshly groomed trail about 15 miles from Manistique to the Jack Pine Lodge, where they stopped for lunch. Riders received a commemorative patch marking their participation in the event.
Yet to come in 2020 are
three additional planned activities (barring COVID-19 postponements), including June 6th equine, Aug. 22nd bicycle and Oct. 3rd ATV/ORV events.
In addition to the DNR and Schoolcraft County Motorized Trail Association, other trail partners that helped make the Haywire Grade celebration events possible include the city of Manistique, the Hiawatha National Forest, the Schoolcraft County Historical Society, the area’s tourist council and several private donors.

Pure Michigan

A sunny springtime view of the Haywire Grade is shown.In February, the Haywire Grade reached another significant milestone when it was designated one of three new Pure Michigan Trails.
According to Pure Michigan officials, designated
Pure Michigan Trails provide access to national, state or regional scenic resources of high quality and splendor, and articulate the natural essence of Michigan.
“Michigan is known for having thousands of miles of hiking, biking and kayaking trails, but the trails and communities that receive this designation are truly outstanding and embody what Pure Michigan is all about,” said David Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan. “We are pleased to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to honor these trails and trail towns.”
To qualify as one of the trails, routes may be a single trail or combination of trails and must be more than a mile in length, open to the public and substantially completed.

The trails and towns receiving Pure Michigan designations comprise some of the elite Michigan trail experiences. They promote healthy lifestyles, conserve natural and cultural resources in the area, display iconic signage, increase awareness of trails for tourism and provide a catalyst for economic activity in their associated communities.
Those qualities, officials say, fit the Haywire Grade perfectly.
Reese said the Pure Michigan designation, scheduled commemorative events and recognition the Haywire Grade is receiving are great for the region and the state.
“It’s exciting for everybody,” he said. “This has been building momentum for years.”

For more on the Haywire Grade celebration and background, go to VisitManistique.com.

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

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Michigan's Outdoors Is Here For You

Enjoy getting outside, but be ‘COVID-19 smart, safe and solo’

31MAR20-We know there’s been a steady stream of “closure” information and messaging about self-isolating to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s true, we are in uncharted territory, and such steps are critical in protecting Michigan residents from Coronavirus risk. Safeguarding mental health is just as important, and spending time outdoors – whether in your backyard, on your balcony or in big, open spaces – can boost mind, body and spirit.

Although the public contact areas (restroom buildings, shooting ranges, visitor centers) at many DNR-managed facilities are temporarily closed, people are still welcome to enjoy the public outdoor areas at state parks and recreation areas, state game and wildlife areas, state forests, state trails and, of course, our lakes, rivers and streams. For the duration of the COVID-19 situation, we’re waiving the need for the Recreation Passport for entry at state parks and other destinations.

Whether you want to hike or bike a new trail, scout your next hunt, paddle the open water or find a favorite fishing spot … Michigan’s outdoors are here. Explore things to do on our website for inspiration; check out our YouTube channel for how-to videos; and get hunting and fishing licenses at our new license system website. Closer to home, you could soak up some sun on the back deck, walk around the block or jog the nearest local trail.

No matter how you enjoy the outdoors, we urge you to practice effective “social distancing” and other measures to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus and keep you, your family and your community safe:

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting, including the outdoors.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Minimize UV sun exposure by properly applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.
  • When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide air flow.

Thanks for doing your part to protect the health and safety of Michigan residents! Before you head outdoors, be sure to check the latest on facilities and state COVID-19 recommendations.

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State Park Campgrounds, Overnight Lodging Facilities and Shelters are Closed, but State Parks Stay Open For Now

31MAR20-LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that, in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21, it will close state park campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities and shelters, effective now through at least April 13. State parks and recreation areas will remain open to provide residents with opportunities to get outdoors, provided all visitors adhere to the requirement for proper social distancing – at least 6 feet between yourself and another person – in all areas of the parks.

Gov. Whitmer issued the “stay home, stay safe” order earlier today in an effort to “suppress the spread of COVID-19, to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed, to allow time for the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, and to avoid needless deaths.”

The DNR will not be able to honor camping reservations for dates between March 23 and April 13. Reservations for that time frame will automatically be canceled. Those reservation holders will receive full refunds, including the reservation fee paid at the time reservations were made. No cancellation/modification fees will be charged.

Reservation holders will receive email notifications once cancellations are processed. Refunds will be applied to the original payment method.

For questions about reservation cancellations, call 800-447-2757.

Collective DNR closures, cancellations

Since March 13th, the DNR has announced a series of facility and event closures, cancellations and modifications. Many public meetings have been postponed or moved to a webinar or conference call format. State parks, recreation areas, trails and other state-managed public lands are open, but with provisions to decrease the coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

Follow the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage for the latest closure information about facilities, events and meetings.

What the EO means to outdoor recreation

State and federal health officials repeatedly have pointed to the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, especially at a time when many are feeling house-bound. DNR Director Dan Eichinger stressed that while Michigan state parks and recreation areas, state boat launches, state forests and other state-managed resources are open to help meet those needs, he wants to make sure those options remain open.

“Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requires people to follow the CDC guidelines and stay at least 6 feet away from other people when outside of their own households, to the greatest extent possible,” Eichinger said. “We want residents to use and enjoy our public outdoor spaces, but we ask them to do so responsibly and safely, whether in a forest, on a trail or in a parking lot.

“If it becomes evident that people are not practicing effective social distancing while visiting these state-managed resources, we will close them to protect the health of our visitors and our staff.”

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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DNR Announces Closures at High-Traffic Facilities

27MAR20-In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced a series of closures for several of its state-managed facilities.

The following facilities will be closed to the public March 14th - April 13th. These are closed-door facilities that draw large numbers (over 100) of people during the day.

Moving forward, the DNR will consult with Michigan’s State Emergency Operations Center for the latest on COVID-19 in Michigan to determine if additional events and programs need to be canceled or postponed. Before traveling, please check Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar for updates.

The state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in reducing the Coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

For current and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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DNR Adjusts or Cancels Some Public Meetings and Events

27MAR20-In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will cancel, postpone or adjust several public meetings and events.

Please visit the DNR closures webpage for up-to-date facility closure information.

Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting adjusted

The executive directive, issued March 13th, provided the NRC with guidance regarding compliance with the Open Meetings Act during the COVID-19 emergency. This instructs the NRC, to the extent practicable, to consider postponing public meetings and/or agenda items that may be deferred until a later time. All action items on the March agenda will be postponed until the April meeting.

In addition, the Wildlife and Fisheries Policy Committee will not be meeting in March.

Visit Michigan.gov/NRC for the updated agenda. Questions can be directed to NRC@Michigan.gov.

Frequently check the DNR boards, commissions, committees and councils web pages for updates on further meeting cancellations and postponements, as well as new meeting dates as they are confirmed.

Canceled events

The DNR Fisheries Division Coffee and Conversations events – which invite the public to discuss local and statewide fisheries management activities with DNR staff – have been canceled. Some of these canceled events may be rescheduled as virtual meetings. Watch that webpage for updates. 

Additionally, other DNR events and programs likely will be canceled or postponed in the coming weeks. Please check Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar often for up-to-date information.

Additional Coronavirus information

The state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in reducing the Coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

For current and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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DNR Closes Customer Service Centers and Field Offices

27MAR20-In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources closed numerous customer service centers and field offices statewide to general public traffic.

The closures took effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 18th.

Fishing and hunting licenses, camping reservations and other items will remain available for purchase online. Hunting and fishing guides and digests are also available online. Burn permits are available free at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.

The affected DNR offices will be open for regular deliveries and by appointment only to customers who need services such as obtaining hunting and fishing licenses, burn permits and charter licenses.

Here is a list of the facilities closing to general public traffic and contact information for making appointments:

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

Field Offices

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

The state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in reducing the Coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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DNR Closes Shooting Ranges, Restricts Access at Offices to Appointment Only

27MAR20-In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has closed shooting ranges and will restrict general public walk-in traffic at facilities statewide.

The restrictions took effect at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 19th.

Fishing and hunting licenses, camping reservations and other items will remain available for purchase online. Hunting and fishing guides and digests are also available online. Burn permits are available free at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.

The affected DNR offices will be open by appointment only to customers who need services such as obtaining hunting, fishing and charter licenses. Regular deliveries will continue.

These facilities include DNR fisheries research stations and hatcheries, forestry and wildlife field offices and visitor centers. Earlier today, the same provisions were put in place for DNR customer service centers and certain field offices.

The Archives of Michigan is closed to walk-in traffic, but will continue to provide service via phone and email. The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Visitor Center and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary offices are closed to the public, along with other state museums.

State-managed lands, trails and parks remain open. However, numerous provisions affecting visitor services are being put in place for state parks and recreation areas.

These measures include:

  • State park headquarters buildings and contact stations are closed to the public.
  • A requirement that a Recreation Passport is needed for state park and recreation area entry has been suspended.
  • Mini-cabins, cabins, yurts, shelters and lodges are closed until May 15th.
  • Campgrounds at state parks remain open. Campers should plan to have a reservation before reaching the park. There may be limited access for self-check-in via personal phones if customers arrive without a reservation. All modern campgrounds become semi-modern with toilet-shower buildings closed. Vault toilets remain open. Current reservation holders who wish to modify their reservation to a later date beyond May 15, without incurring any fees, may contact the reservation call center at 1-800-447-2757 for assistance.
  • State Forest Campgrounds remain open with self-registration continued and vault toilets open.
  • At day-use areas and boating access sites, vault toilets are open, no organized events are being held.

Check the latest updates for DNR facilities at Michigan.gov/DNRClosures.  

The state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in reducing the Coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.

For current and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus visit http://www.Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or http://www.CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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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.

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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