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Michigan Army National Guard Personnel, "Porkies" Friends Group Leader Recognized for Community Service Efforts in Upper Peninsula

The playground at Van Riper State Park begins to take shape in Marquette County.28APR17-Michigan Army National Guard members from the 107th Engineer Battalion in Ishpeming and Sally Berman, current president of the Friends of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, were Upper Peninsula recipients honored in East Lansing recently with Michigan Recreation and Park Association (mParks) Community Service Awards for their volunteer efforts.
Guard members were honored for their work to help build a new playground at Van Riper State Park, while Berman was lauded for her work with the Friends group at the Porcupine Mountains.
More than 30 Army National Guard battalion members worked on the park playground project, with others, over the course of a few days in June 2016. They erected a Sinclair Recreation (GameTime) playground at the park, along the shoreline of Lake Michigamme.

Volunteers work on the playground project at Van Riper State Park in Marquette County.“This group of young men and women took time out of their busy lives to help us with this important project,” said Doug Barry, park supervisor at Van Riper. “They did a fantastic job. This could be the nicest playground in the Upper Peninsula.”
Barry nominated the National Guard members for the award, which is presented annually. The awards ceremony took place April 19 at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing.
“We are proud to honor the volunteers and agencies that make a difference throughout the state of Michigan,” said Kyle Langlois, mParks professional recognition chairman for the association, which is headquartered in Lansing.
mParks' Community Service Awards recognize individuals and groups who show outstanding support to public recreation and park programs in their community, including friends’ groups, department volunteers and advocates.

Sally Berman, current president of the Friends of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.The playground project, valued at roughly $220,000, was spearheaded by The Friends of Van Riper and Craig Lake State Parks.
Funding for the playground was varied and included a $90,000 grant from the Cliffs-Lundin community foundation and some Michigan Department of Natural Resources Friends Partnership matching grant funding. The Friends group and DNR staff also contributed labor.
Barry said it isn’t easy necessarily to construct a quarter-million-dollar playground with a group of volunteers.
“This was not the case with the National Guard — this is a group of skilled, honorable young adults,” Barry said. “So skilled, in fact, that organizers had trouble keeping up with them — a nice problem to have.”
Roughly 60 volunteers, more than half of them members of the National Guard unit, worked on the project. When it was finished, the Guard members brought their families out to see what they’d help build.
“Every one of the Guard smiled with joy and pride as they watched the children play,” Barry said.
National Guard members used annual leave to volunteer to work on the project. Work continued through rainy and windy conditions.

View a complete list of Michigan National Guard personnel from the 107th Engineer Battalion who participated in the playground construction project.
Berman assumed her leadership role with the "Porkies" Friends group in August 2016.
She is very dedicated to the mission of the group which is: “To promote, support, and enhance the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, inspiring appreciation of wilderness for current and future generations.”
“Sally is very passionate about the park and the ‘Friends of the Porkies,’” said Jeff Gaertner, supervisor of the park. “She is the one who has, as of late, been able to get the Friends group to focus on the needs of the park and how they can assist us with achieving our mission, as well as their mission.”
Gaertner said Berman is very giving of her time which she donates to many causes throughout the Ontonagon County area.
“Sally is routinely called upon by the Friends group to represent them at local and regional events, award presentations and meetings,” Gaertner said. “She is a leader in the entire statewide Friends groups system and an asset for us all.”

Additional honorees from the Lower Peninsula, nominated by DNR officials, were also honored at the recent awards ceremony.


The Seeds of Tree Appreciation are Rooted in Michigan

Tree-planting activities benefit the state’s wildlife, people, public lands, cities and towns

group of kids planting tree outside of school28APR17-Other than the December holiday tree-trimming season, April is probably the one time of year when a great deal of special national attention is paid to trees and, more specifically, planting them.
The Arbor Day Foundation is maintaining an online countdown on its website to this Friday’s national commemoration of the one day each year we all can “Get together and celebrate the importance of trees.”
Starting with the efforts of J. Sterling Morton, a nature-loving Detroiter transplanted into Nebraska Territory in 1854, the roots of Arbor Day took hold as Morton led the charge to promote the importance of trees, first to pioneers, townspeople and schoolchildren, later to his state, and eventually, the nation.
On the first Arbor Day, Jan. 4, 1872, more than a million trees were estimated to have been planted in Nebraska. Arbor Day was proclaimed a legal holiday in Nebraska in 1885 and was originally celebrated on Morton’s April 22 birthday.
Today, National Arbor Day is always celebrated on the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates throughout the year based on the best tree planting times in their area, according to the foundation.
Michigan celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.

The Arbor Day Foundation said its Tree City USA program has been greening up cities and towns across America since 1976. The program is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees.
More than 3,400 communities have made the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA, including
111 cities and towns in Michigan in 2016. Two Michigan communities — Adrian and Royal Oak — have achieved the Tree City USA designation for 40 years. Michigan ranks eighth nationally in the number of communities certified.
“These communities have achieved the Tree City USA designation by meeting four core standards of the program: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Coordinator Kevin Sayers.

lady digging a hole and girls holding tree seedlingsNearly 1,000 second- and third-grade students from 20 pre-selected, mid-Michigan schools will attend the State Arbor Day Celebration Friday, April 28, at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo.
Students from schools selected to attend the celebration will have an opportunity to learn during a series of hands-on activity stations that focus on trees, water, wildlife and related ecosystems.
A noon-time ceremony will include a presentation of awards and planting of the state Arbor Day tree. Numerous sponsoring organizations are involved in making the event a success.
“Arbor Day is the designated day for celebrating the importance of trees and forests,” Sayers said. “Events like this will help raise awareness about the role trees play in our lives, in our communities and in the environment.”

While there may be just one day a year specifically set aside to celebrate trees, the importance of trees is something many organizations focus on year-round.
A good number of these organizations spearhead volunteer efforts, many in partnership with the DNR, to plant trees for the benefit of Michigan’s wildlife and communities around the state.
Earlier this month, the DNR and Arbor Day Foundation partnered to give away 1,000 trees in the City of Detroit to help beautify neighborhoods and restore tree canopy lost to the emerald ash borer, an invasive and destructive insect.
In August, Michigan United Conservation Clubs – as part of On the Ground, MUCC’s volunteer fish and wildlife habitat improvement program – brought together 21 volunteers to plant 230 trees at the DNR’s Garden Grade GEMS (Grouse Enhanced Management Site) in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula.
The site totals approximately 7,000 acres, dominated by aspen, northeast of Garden and south of Cooks.
Trees and shrubs planted included ninebark, American mountain ash, American hazelnut and highbush cranberry.

group of volunteers who planted trees“Volunteers planted along logging roadways to enhance 20 acres of grouse habitat in a recently forested stand to promote aspen regeneration,” said Sarah Topp, wildlife volunteer coordinator for MUCC. “Grouse were spotted by a few lucky volunteers along the way; this site will be a thriving habitat for the gamebird in the next five to 10 years of growth.”
Topp added that, although the targeted species for this project was grouse, other wildlife such as white-tailed deer, snowshoe hare, American woodcock, black bear, rabbits and more will benefit from the trees and shrubs by providing food and cover.
Cody Norton, a DNR wildlife biologist at the Shingleton field office in Alger County, said
MUCC volunteers planted shrubs along two hunter walking trails in the northern part of the GEMS.

“We worked with Ralph Lundquist of Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County to get funding for the shrubs and Sarah Topp of MUCC to organize the On-The-Ground event,” Norton said. “We had 21 volunteers that included local hunters, members of MUCC, U.P. Whitetails and Ruffed Grouse Society, DNR Forest Resources Division staff, and family members of DNR Wildlife Division staff.”
More recently, on March 25, a group of nearly two dozen On the Ground volunteers planted 800 crabapple trees at Middleville State Game Area in Barry County.
In the wildlife opening where the trees were planted, there have been problems with vehicles tearing up the area. The trees not only will provide browse for the area’s deer and wild turkey, but also will deter vehicles from driving through the opening.

"These wildlife habitat improvement events help the DNR plant trees and shrubs essential to quality wildlife habitat throughout the state of Michigan,” Topp said. “Volunteers dedicate a full or half day to tackle a project planting 500-1,000 trees on public lands that the DNR just doesn't have the time or staff for. This program is crucial to connecting the local hunters, trappers and anglers with wildlife conservation on our public lands."
On the Ground volunteer opportunities are scheduled in the coming months.

volunteers repot shrubs for turkey habitat projectAside from the MUCC, several other groups have helped the DNR by planting wildlife-friendly trees and shrubs, including the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, the Ruffed Grouse Society and the Drummond Island Conservation Club.
In the fall of 2015, volunteers from two local National Wild Turkey Federation groups joined DNR staff at the Holly Wildlife Area in Oakland County to plant crabapple trees in an area the volunteers had helped to clear of black locust, brush and other invasive plants the previous spring.
“Crabapples provide winter food for wild turkeys, as well as songbirds, squirrels and deer,” said Holly Vaughn, DNR wildlife communications coordinator. “The smaller crabapple is easier to eat and persists longer into the winter than regular apples, which makes this fruit very valuable for wintering wildlife.

“Thanks to our partners, these trees should provide mast for wildlife for many years to come.”
Some organizations complete tree-planting projects with financial help from DNR grant programs.
For instance, Crawford and Oscoda counties are the beneficiaries of a DNR Wildlife Habitat Grant awarded to a group of organizations including the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society and Whitetails Unlimited.
More than 500 crabapple, hawthorn, service berry and burr oak trees, along with more than 178 acres of food plots, were planted in the summer of 2016.
“Great year-round food sources,” said Katie Keen, DNR wildlife communications coordinator. “In addition, two miles of hunter walking trail were established and 200 apple trees were pruned.”
Volunteer tree-planting efforts have also played a role in one of Michigan’s greatest conservation success stories – the recovery from the brink of extinction of the Kirtland’s warbler.

Volunteers plant 2-3 acres of jack pines every year to further the recovery of the Kirtland’s warbler by creating habitat.The Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance and Huron Pines, in partnership with the DNR, Saving Birds Thru Habitat and Fairmont Santrol, sponsor an annual Jack Pine Planting Day to help create Kirtland’s warbler habitat.
“Through the Jack Pines Planting Day event we’ve planted 2 acres of Kirtland’s warbler habitat the last two years – something around 2,500 trees each time,” said Abigail Ertel, community program leader for Huron Pines, a nonprofit organization that helps protect the Great Lakes by conserving the forests, lakes and streams of northeast Michigan. “This year we’re hoping to up that to 3 acres and approximately 3,750 trees.”
The 2017 Jack Pine Planting Day, taking place May 19 in Grayling, will be part of the Huron Pines AmeriCorps Russ Mawby Signature Service Project. AmeriCorps members and volunteers from across northeast Michigan will gather to tackle conservation and community-based service projects.

“There’s nothing quite as tangible and being out on public lands, getting your hands dirty, meeting new people or reconnecting with old friends while actively participating in an important conservation program, which normally wouldn’t be an option for the general public,” Ertel said.
Those interested in participating can
register online for the service project or contact Huron Pines at 989-448-2293.
In the spirit of Arbor Day, though often undertaken at other times during the year, many volunteer tree-planting projects aim to bring the benefits of trees to Michigan’s non-wildlife residents — people in communities around the state.
The DNR offers financial assistance with these tree-planting efforts by administering programs like federally funded Community Forestry Grants and DTE Energy Foundation Tree Planting Grants, which help local units of government, schools and nonprofit organizations plant and manage trees in their communities.
This year, the DTE Tree Planting grant application period will begin on Arbor Day. Application materials are available online at

Looking for volunteer opportunities to pitch in and help plant some trees in your community? Check with your local government office or organizations such as ReLeaf Michigan, The Greening of Detroit, the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project and others around the state.

For more information on National Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s website at

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles.


Annual Reports for 7 Wetland Wonders Now Available on DNR Website

26APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that annual reports for each of Michigan’s seven Wetland Wonders now are available on the DNR’s website at (under the Waterfowl Counts tab). 
The reports detail the 2016-2017 hunting season results, habitat management activities and weekly waterfowl counts at each of Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, along with other information. 

Michigan's Wetland Wonders, the seven premier managed waterfowl hunt areas in the state, include:

bullet Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County)
Fennville Farm annual report
bullet Fish Point State Wildlife Area (Tuscola County)
Fish Point annual report
bullet St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island (St. Clair County)
St. Clair Flats annual report
bullet Muskegon County Wastewater Facility (Muskegon County)
Muskegon County Wastewater annual report
bullet Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area (Bay County)
Nayanquing Point annual report
bullet Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe and Wayne counties)
Pointe Mouillee annual report
bullet Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County)
Shiawassee River annual report

These areas, scattered across the southern Lower Peninsula, were created in the 1960s to provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities, and are still managed today to provide waterfowl habitat for nesting and migration and for the benefit of other wetland-dependent wildlife. Since the beginning, these areas have been funded by hunting license fees, but they are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.


Michigan NRC & DNR - Create Panel on Chronic Wasting Disease

26APR17-Recognizing the challenge posed by the presence of chronic wasting disease in Michigan’s white-tailed deer population, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission recently adopted a resolution to engage the scientific community to identify practices that will address the threat of CWD. The resolution was approved at the commission’s April meeting in Lansing.
The purpose of the resolution is to have scientists and experts “advise the NRC, the DNR or other applicable agencies on further steps and actions which could be implemented to substantially mitigate or eliminate CWD in Michigan.”
Chronic wasting disease – first discovered two years ago in free-ranging deer in Michigan – is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brain of an infected animal, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and, ultimately, the animal’s death. There is no known connection between CWD and human health.

“The Natural Resources Commission and the Michigan DNR have a long history of working cooperatively to ensure the health and longevity of the state’s wildlife and fisheries resources,” said NRC Chair John Matonich. “Chronic wasting disease is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Michigan’s white-tailed deer herd, and we are committed to fighting it head on, with the best available science.”
Scientists are to be selected by the NRC chair and the directors of the state departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development. Chair and/or co-chairs will be selected by the NRC chair and the DNR director.
The group is charged with delivering recommendations by Dec. 31, 2017. After recommendations are received, the NRC and DNR will develop a public process by which to share and receive input on those recommendations.
“Michigan’s white-tailed deer are a critical part of the state’s hunting culture and tradition, as well as the state and local economies supported by those who annually take part in the tradition,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “Since the first CWD finding in Michigan, the DNR has taken aggressive steps to contain and address this threat to our deer population. We look forward to working with this group to continue that effort.”

Learn more about chronic wasting disease at the DNR website


Fishing Activity to Pick up as Multiple Seasons Open This Saturday

angler on boat on river in Michigan in spring

25APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anyone who fishes to dust off their gear and get ready for the opening of two fishing seasons Saturday, April 29. The statewide trout season and the Lower Peninsula inland walleye, northern pike and muskellunge seasons all open that day.
Anglers are reminded that in Upper Peninsula waters the walleye, northern pike and muskellunge seasons open Monday, May 15th.
Don’t forget the catch-and-immediate-release season for largemouth and smallmouth bass is open all year on nearly all waters (unless otherwise closed to fishing – check the current Michigan Fishing Guide for specifics). The possession season for bass opens statewide Saturday, May 27, except for Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River, which open Saturday, June 17th.

Fishing is a major economic driver in many parts of the state. In Michigan, anglers typically spend 28 million days on the water and generate $4.4 billion in economic activity, which generates $623 million in local, state and federal tax revenue. On top of that, sportfishing in Michigan is estimated to support nearly 38,000 jobs.
The new license season began April 1, so anglers need to be sure they have purchased a new fishing license for this fishing season. The 2017 fishing licenses are valid through March 31, 2018.
Also be aware this is the second year of the two-year Michigan Fishing Guide. The 2016-2017 Michigan Fishing Guide and Inland Trout & Salmon Maps are available online, visit the DNR website at for the most up-to-date information. You can view the complete guide online, or download it to your device for later use.  


Concession Opportunities Available in Michigan State Parks

25APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced opportunities for operating concessions to provide goods and/or services in Michigan state parks.
Those interested may visit the state of Michigan’s website for a list of current opportunities. Click on Open Bids, then choose Miscellaneous Commodities and Services from the Show Bids for Category drop-down menu.

Concessionaires should have prior business experience and adequate working capital to fund the concession.
"Concessionaires are vital to ensuring that a wide variety of goods and services are available to our customers," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "We view our concessionaires as partnerships and appreciate the value they add to outdoor recreational experiences in our state parks and harbors."

The DNR currently is seeking operators for the following locations:

Burt Lake State Park store.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park lighthouse tour and lighthouse store.

Grayhaven State Harbor watercraft rentals.

Otsego Lake State Park mooring post rentals.

The DNR will make arrangements to visit the concession site with interested bidders. Bid lettings are set for each of these concessions and continue to be set for opportunities that become available. Concessionaires have the ability to enter into a contract for up to seven years.
Interested vendors are encouraged to periodically check the website for updated opportunities. Registering as a vendor isn’t required; however, registrants can sign up to receive automatic notification of new concession bids.

For more information, contact Lori Ruff at 989-275-5151, ext. 2006 or


DNR Unveils 2017 Turkey Cooperator Patch

2017 Wild Turkey Management Cooperator patch24APR17-With spring turkey season under way, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to purchase a wild turkey cooperator patch.
The 2017 turkey patch, designed by Sylvia Smith of Lake Orion High School, now is available for purchase. Each year, Michigan students in grades K-12 are given the opportunity to submit designs for the DNR’s annual wild turkey management cooperator patch. The Michigan chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, in partnership with DNR, coordinates the wild turkey patch program.
“We feel privileged to be able to partner with the Michigan DNR on this project,” said Art Pelon, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Turkey Federation.
The patch design award was presented to Smith at the Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing April 13th.
Proceeds from patch sales are used to fund wild turkey-related projects and management in Michigan.
Young hunters, 17 years old and younger, who have a valid wild turkey hunting license may receive a free patch. To receive a patch, please send name and complete address, along with a legible copy of the youth’s valid wild turkey hunting license, to National Wild Turkey Federation, Wild Turkey Patch Program, P.O. Box 8, Orleans, MI, 48865. Please allow four to six weeks for delivery. If you have questions, please e-mail

Adult hunters, collectors and other interested individuals may purchase the patch for $5, including postage and handling. Only the current-year patch is available for purchase. You do not have to harvest a turkey to purchase a patch. Send orders to the address above and make check or money order payable to the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The DNR also reminds hunters that spring turkey season started Monday, April 17, and runs through May 31, with several different hunt periods to choose from. Information about spring turkey hunting can be found at
A base license is required for every resident and nonresident who hunts in Michigan. Hunters may purchase a spring turkey license only after they have obtained a base license for the year. The base license is also a small game license.


Michigan’s Public Lands are Earth Day’s Unsung Heroes

Aerial view of Tahquamenon River and surrounding fall forest24APR17-Want to celebrate an Earth Day hero?  Look no further than the nearest parcel of state-managed public land in any corner of Michigan.
As the April 22 Earth Day observance approaches, it’s a good time to appreciate our state-managed public lands for all they do to enhance quality of life in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources manages 4.6 million acres of land for the public’s use and enjoyment, including state forests, game areas, recreation areas and parks. Aside from the high-value cultural, recreational and economic opportunities they provide, Michigan’s public lands have enormous impact on the quality of our environment and natural resources.
The lands reduce air pollution, protect water quality, provide flood retention and offer critical wildlife habitat. Like true heroes, they do their jobs without fanfare.

“People usually associate public lands with outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking or hunting,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “But they may not realize the tremendous natural benefits these spaces provide. Their contributions to the health of Michigan’s environment, natural resources and citizens are many. That’s why proper management of these valued public lands is so critical.” 

Ways in which public lands improve our environment, natural resources and even public health include:

bulletPollution prevention. Forests and wetlands on public lands benefit the environment by serving as natural “purifiers.” For example, trees help reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants and increasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Wetlands play a vital role by filtering pollutants from surface runoff, and breaking down fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into less harmful substances.
bulletImproved water quality. Tree roots hold soil together and soak up moisture, which enhances water quality and prevents erosion. In addition to filtering pollutants, wetlands improve water quality by recharging groundwater supplies when connected to underground aquifers. They also contribute to natural nutrient and water cycles.
bulletStorm water management. In natural landscapes like forests, the soil absorbs water and pollutants resulting from runoff from hard surfaces such as driveways and parking lots. This is especially important in reducing flooding.
bulletWildlife habitat. Fields, forests, waterways and wetlands provide Michigan’s wildlife with the vibrant ecosystems they need to thrive.
bulletBetter health. Nature plays a huge role in the physical and emotional health of Michiganders. The ability of trees and grasslands to filter air pollution reduces negative health effects on people with respiratory ailments. Plus, state-managed public lands – offering trails, boat launches, campgrounds and other outdoor recreation options – provide any number of opportunities for exercise and fitness. Of course, trees, lakes and rivers offer calming effects that are emotionally gratifying as well.
bulletGood stewardship. Michigan’s public lands promote good environmental stewardship. They allow for initiatives such as Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, which provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities through the world-class management of the state’s seven premier Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas. The DNR also is pursuing an innovative wetland mitigation program that harnesses public lands to help offset the loss of wetlands.

“We’re a cleaner, healthier Michigan because of our public lands,” Creagh said. “So much of what they do for us happens without notice. But Earth Day provides a good opportunity to appreciate all our state-managed public lands do for the citizens of Michigan.”


DNR Investigating Citizen Reports of Dead Fish in Lake St. Clair

dead gizzard shad floating in Lake St Clair20APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is investigating several fish mortalities – particularly of gizzard shad – that have been reported by citizens around Lake St. Clair. A number of samples have been collected to determine the cause. Some of the fish may have been affected by viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv), a very contagious pathogen, but the DNR is still waiting on confirmation.
“Thanks to the public’s vigilance we are able to get timely samples from these fish mortalities, and it is very likely VHSv is involved,” said Gary Whelan, research program manager for the DNR’s Fisheries Division. “VHSv has been detected in these waters since at least 2003, and when conditions are right the pathogen will cause disease events like this one.”
Many of the collected fish showed the classic external signs of VHSv: bloody patches on the skin. VHSv first caused fish mortalities in the St. Clair-Detroit River corridor in 2006 and occasionally has been detected in these waters since that time.

The virus is known to infect more than 30 species of Great Lakes fish and has been found in lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, along with a few inland lakes. Some species such as lake sturgeon and walleye are very resistant to it and others such as bluegill, largemouth bass, muskellunge, gizzard shad and round goby are very susceptible to the virus. The pathogen causes the fish’s blood vessels to leak, which is why the skin shows bloody patches. This symptom is shared with other pathogens, so testing is needed to confirm if VHSv is involved. Previous research has shown that many fish recover from this virus infection, although there is no treatment.
“The public is encouraged to continue to provide us with reports of fish kills with a focus on kills of more than 25 fish,” Whelan said. “The public can provide the reports to our fish kill email address at This information helps us track this event and determine where best to collect additional samples.”

Anglers are reminded to refrain from moving live fish between water bodies and to properly dispose of bait. Boaters need to make sure their bilges and live wells are emptied prior to leaving a boat launch, and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected after use. Visit for more information on how those who fish and boat can help limit the spread of fish disease and invasive species. 


DNR Officer Earns Shikar-Safari Club Wildlife Officer of the Year Honor

20APR17-Conservation Officer Steve Converse, a 16-year Department of Natural Resources veteran serving Manistee County, recently was honored by the Shikar-Safari Club International as Michigan’s 2016 Wildlife Officer of the Year. The DNR officer Steve Converse, second from left, with his family and others accepting an awardinternational hunting organization is involved in such recognitions of key officials in natural resources agencies across the United States and Canada.
Converse received the award at last week’s regular meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing.
“We hold our officers to the highest standards,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “The fact that Officer Converse earned this recognition speaks to his outstanding dedication and professionalism. He genuinely cares about the people and resources he’s sworn to protect. He’s a credit to the DNR and Michigan’s law enforcement community.”
The award is presented to officers who show exemplary conduct and initiative while performing their duties.
Hagler praised Converse for his strong work ethic and devotion to duty. Converse routinely makes himself available to handle complaints and investigations no matter the time of day or night, even if the work takes him outside of his assigned county.

Converse is known for taking on additional responsibilities. For example, he serves as a charter boat inspector, a significant task considering Manistee County has one of the busiest commercial fishing harbors in the state. In addition, the DNR Law Enforcement Division relies on his creativity and expertise when developing training scenarios for new officers.

When it comes to protecting Michigan’s natural resources, Converse gets results. 

bulletHis investigative work results each year in numerous poaching convictions for fish and game illegally taken from Manistee and surrounding counties, generating tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and reimbursement to the state – in 2016 alone, Officer Converse had 16 successful prosecutions of deer-related violations that resulted in more than $47,000 in reimbursement. Those proceeds support the department’s management of Michigan’s natural resources and help provide outdoor recreation safety and education programming.
bulletOfficer Converse was instrumental in the implementation of a 2015 regulation restricting devices used to illegally harvest fish in Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties.

While enforcing the law is a big part of an officer’s job, Converse also enjoys serving as a DNR “ambassador” to educate citizens so they can safely and legally enjoy Michigan’s outdoor opportunities. He teaches hunter safety classes and has positively influenced many young hunters during his career. Converse also routinely visits schools to educate students about Michigan’s natural resources and to discuss career opportunities within the DNR.
Converse’s colleagues nominated him for the award, demonstrating the respect he has earned among his peers.
A native of Middleville and an Olivet College graduate, Converse and his family live in Manistee County.

Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace officers will full authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. Learn more at


Fish Stock Creates Fishing Opportunities Throughout Michigan

DNR employee manning fish stocking truck as it unloads cargo19APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced it is in the middle of its new fish stocking season. This spring you’ll find DNR fish stocking trucks releasing their prized recreational cargo at hundreds of lakes and streams throughout the state.
Fish stocking is a valuable tool used by fisheries managers to restore, enhance and create new fishing opportunities in Michigan’s inland lakes and streams and the Great Lakes. The DNR’s Fisheries Division accomplishes this task by rearing fish at its six fish production facilities located throughout the state, cooperatively managing up to 46 rearing ponds and eight Great Lakes imprinting net pen locations, and maintaining a fleet of 18 specialized fish stocking vehicles.

Over the course of a typical year the DNR will stock roughly 26 million fish weighing nearly 350 tons, including eight species of trout and salmon and three coolwater strains of walleye and muskellunge. Beginning in mid-March and ending in early June, the DNR fish stocking trucks will travel well over 100,000 miles to stock between 700 and 1,100 locations.
Michigan anglers have access to four Great Lakes, 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams. That puts residents and visitors no more than 10 minutes away from quality angling opportunities and world-class fisheries.

Visit the DNR website for information on local fish stocking locations.


DNR's Trout Trails Web App Now Features Locations Across the State

12APR17-The latest additions to the Department of Natural Resources’ online Trout Trails application now ensure quality trout streams and lakes are pinpointed for anglers to visit throughout the state of Michigan.
Trout Trails is an interactive tool featuring fisheries biologist-verified trout waters that are often lesser known, but considered outstanding destination points.
This is the third phase of Trout Trails, with nearly 100 additional sites added to the application. That brings the total number of locations to nearly 300. These newly added sites feature lakes and streams located in the eastern, central and western Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.
The DNR will continue to add more locations over time to add to the statewide coverage of these types of waters.
Interested anglers should visit to access the web-based Trout Trails application. Please note, Trout Trails is not a downloadable app, but it is compatible with all types of electronic devices.

Each of the nearly 300 destinations features extensive information, including trout species available, regulations, presence of stocked or naturally reproducing fish, driving directions, area lodging, restaurants and note-worthy information (such as presence of fast water, canoe/kayak/tube accessibility, best times to fish, what bait or lure to use, etc.).
“We know more and more anglers are using the Trout Trails map to plan future fishing trips, and with these latest additions we ensure those folks can find a world-class trout fishing opportunity in practically every corner of the state,” said Elyse Walter, communication specialist with the DNR’s Fisheries Division.

Information about each Trout Trails site also is available in a printable format.


Researchers Track New Zealand Mud Snail in Michigan Rivers

New video illustrates key identification points of this invader

a close-up view of the New Zealand mudsnail12APR17-A tiny invader is threatening prized trout streams in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.  A mere 1/8-inch long, the New Zealand mud snail is barely distinguishable from a grain of sand, but over time its invasive habits can affect the quality and quantity of trout and other fish in the Au Sable, Pere Marquette and Boardman rivers where it has been found.
New Zealand mud snails were first discovered in the United States in Idaho’s Snake River in 1987. Since then, infestations have spread throughout the western states and into areas of the Great Lakes. The discovery of New Zealand mud snails in the Pere Marquette River in August 2015 signaled the first detection in a Michigan inland waterway. Within the next year, populations were confirmed in the Boardman and Au Sable rivers. The U.S. Geological Survey has developed an animated map illustrating the New Zealand mudsnail’s movement through the states.   

What harm can a snail do?

This brown to black mudsnail, a native of New Zealand, is considered invasive and is prohibited in Michigan due to the environmental harm it can cause to rivers, streams and lakes. Because the snail reproduces by cloning (females develop complete embryos without fertilization), just one snail can start a population.
One snail can produce over 200 young in a year. Since no natural predators or parasites exist in North America, exponential population growth occurs unchecked, year after year. In some locations in western states, researchers have documented snails reaching densities of 300,000 per square meter. With that many mud snails, food for other stream invertebrate populations can become scarce.
Fish that feed on native invertebrates like mayflies and caddis flies may find it more difficult to forage. In fact, Seth Herbst, the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division, said that fish will consume New Zealand mud snails, but due to the snail’s thick shell and a tightly closing “hatch” called the operculum, they offer the fish no nutritional value and actually are commonly indigestible by trout and excreted alive. “In addition,” Herbst said, “substituting mud snails for native food sources can reduce the growth and condition and ultimately the abundance of key sport fish including trout.” 

What is Michigan doing to combat the problem?

Once New Zealand mud snails were positively identified in the Pere Marquette River, the DNR and the Department of Environmental Quality began surveying heavily utilized rivers across the state. Since the discoveries in the Boardman and Au Sable rivers, no new mud snail locations have been identified. Surveying efforts will continue through the 2017 field season.

Mud snail distribution

In a project supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the DNR and Michigan State University are working together to understand how widely distributed New Zealand mud snails are in the Pere Marquette River and how these invaders may be affecting native invertebrates.
“We are also taking the opportunity to talk to anglers about their behaviors, whether they travel to multiple fishing spots in a single day, and whether they are washing their gear between visits,” said Dr. Dan Hayes, a professor and associate chair of MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “Their responses help us understand potential vectors for New Zealand mud snail transportation.”

A chemical treatment targeting sea lamprey in the Pere Marquette River is scheduled for summer 2017. MSU researchers will use this opportunity to determine what, if any, effect the lampricide treatment has on mud snails.

Citizen science

With support from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, a group of citizen scientists soon will be involved in monitoring for New Zealand mud snails in the Au Sable and other popular fly-fishing destinations. A partnership between Oakland University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Trout Unlimited and Anglers of the Au Sable will provide training in mud snail monitoring and sampling techniques to volunteers from the angling organizations.
Trained volunteers will take to the Au Sable River later this year and will branch out to other popular fly-fishing locations in the next two years to take water samples for environmental DNA testing, collect invertebrate samples from riffles, and spread the word to other anglers about the importance of cleaning gear and boats to prevent the spread of New Zealand mud snails.
“Local anglers are familiar with invertebrate communities, they are frequently on the water, and they are familiar with their home waters,” said Dr. Scott Tiegs, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Oakland University. 
Tiegs, who is leading the citizen science project, also will spend time with all 20 chapters of Michigan Trout Unlimited to share techniques for ensuring that mud snails are not accidentally transferred from stream to stream.  

What can you do?

Invasive species management begins with prevention. Though the snails have been found in three river systems, it is not too late to prevent their spread to other rivers and lakes. Since it takes only one New Zealand mud snail to start a population, prevention requires everyone’s involvement.
The most important means of prevention is practicing good recreational hygiene. After a visit to one of Michigan’s lakes, rivers or streams, be sure to clean, drain and dry your boat, trailer and gear before heading to a new destination. 
The New Zealand mud snail’s small size requires careful examination and cleaning of places where plants, sand or debris can be found on poles, nets, waders, boots, buckets, kayaks, canoes and flotation devices. Anything that has been in the water or at the water’s edge should be inspected before it is packed or loaded.

New video illustrates key identification points

MDEQ New Zealand mudsnail video still play buttonThe Department of Environmental Quality recently released a new video providing an overview of New Zealand mudsnail identification. The video is the premiere in the “MDEQ Minute” series, offering 60-second views on a broad range of topics including new and potential invasive species in Michigan.

If you think you have found a New Zealand mudsnail in a waterway outside of the Pere Marquette, Boardman or Au Sable rivers, report your finding using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website,, or download the MISIN app to your smart phone.


DNR Offers Saginaw Bay Walleye Clinic, With Mark Martin, May 9-10

pro fisherman Mark Martin holding large walleye
11APR17-The Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Skills Academy will offer an in-depth opportunity to learn about Saginaw Bay walleye fishing Tuesday and Wednesday, May 9 and 10, at the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center in Bay City, Michigan.
The two-day Saginaw Bay Walleye Clinic will begin May 9 with a tips and techniques session, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Instructors Captain Mark Martin – Walleye Trail World Champion and full-time Hall of Fame professional walleye fisherman – and Captain Brandon Stanton of Team Gunsmoke Sportfishing and Guide Service will cover the equipment and skills needed to catch Saginaw Bay walleye. The class will take the novice angler through rod and reel selection, rigging and presentation techniques, and natural history tips about walleye in Saginaw Bay.
On the second day of the clinic, running 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., participants will have an opportunity to experience hands-on, one-on-one time with Martin’s pro-staff as they board pro boats and fish Saginaw Bay.
Cost for the clinic is $165, which includes lunch both days and pro boat trips. Participants are encouraged to bring the fishing gear they already have.

Registration is limited to 28 participants. Sign up for the Saginaw Bay Walleye Clinic in the Michigan e-Store.

For more information, contact park interpreter Valerie Blaschka at 989-667-0717 or

The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center is located inside Bay City State Recreation Area at 3582 State Park Drive in Bay City. A Recreation Passport is required for entry into the recreation area and the Saginaw River Boat Launch.

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


Spring Birding Events in Michigan & State Trails 

scarlet tanager11APR17-Michigan is home to a variety of important bird habitats and an exciting array of public birding events and birding trails. Now is the time to start making plans to get out and enjoy the spectacular diversity of birds in Michigan. 
“Michigan has so many great opportunities for birders and wildlife watchers, with more events popping up all the time,” said Holly Vaughn, Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications coordinator. “There is no better place to begin birding than Michigan, and there are opportunities to observe birds anywhere you may be in the state.”
In addition to the many festivals listed below, Michigan is home to a growing number of birding trails, with six already existing and more planned.
Michigan’s birding trails are open to the public and provide great opportunities for family recreation.  

Spring birding events in Michigan include:


bullet Spring Fling at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory in Paradise, April 29-30
bullet Thornapple Woodpecker Festival in Middleville, April 29
bullet Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch in Copper Harbor, now through June 15


bullet Keweenaw Migratory Bird Festival in Copper Harbor, May 20
bullet Ziibiwing Annual Bird Celebration in Mt. Pleasant, May 13
bullet Tawas Point Birding Festival in East Tawas, May 18-20
bullet Warblers on the Water on Beaver Island, May 27-28
bullet Kirtland's Warbler Tours at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling,
May 14 through July 4 


bullet Kirtland's Warbler Festival in Roscommon, June 2-3
bullet Cerulean Warbler Weekend in Hastings, June 10-11
bullet Keweenaw Migratory Bird Festival in Copper Harbor, June 3, 10 and 11

common yellowthroat“These birding events contribute significantly to the local economies, and attract attention to the value of local birds and habitats,” said Caleb Putnam, Michigan bird conservation coordinator for Audubon Great Lakes and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “As birders from across the country converge on Michigan’s diverse habitats, the energy continues to grow for conservation in Michigan.”
Birding is a great way to enjoy the diversity of Michigan’s wildlife and their habitats and to build a true appreciation for the uniqueness of the state’s natural resources. Birding events and trails are made possible through the efforts of Audubon chapters, government agencies, land conservancies, private industries and many dedicated individuals working together to create opportunities for people to experience the outdoors and visit local communities.

Common yellowthroats and scarlet tanagers are among the many bird species that can be found on Michigan’s birding trails and that will be celebrated with birding events around the state this spring.


New Fishing Licenses Required As Of April 1st in Michigan

10APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that a new fishing season began Saturday, April 1, which coincided with the new regulation cycle; 2016 licenses were good only through March 31, 2017.

Five options are available when making a purchase. All fishing licenses are good for all species. 

bulletResident Annual - $26
bulletNon-Resident Annual - $76
bulletSenior Annual (for residents age 65 or older) - $11
bullet24-Hour (resident or non-resident) - $10
bullet72-Hour (resident or non-resident) - $30

2017 Michigan fishing license with copy of 2016-2017 Michigan Fishing GuideA temporary 10-percent discount on non-resident annual licenses enacted two years ago has expired, returning that license to its original cost of $76.
Those targeting lake sturgeon and/or muskellunge also will need to obtain free fishing and harvest tags from their local license retailer.
When anglers purchase licenses at retail stores, they often receive copies of the current Michigan Fishing Guide. For those making the purchase in 2017, they should consider visiting to see the latest version. The online guide includes any regulation changes made since its February 2016 printing, ensuring those who fish are aware of the current rules.
Residents and non-residents also can purchase the Hunt/Fish combo license for $76 and $266, respectively, which consists of a base license, annual fishing license and two deer tags. There also is a Hunt/Fish combo license available to senior residents for $43. A base license is not required when purchasing just a fishing license.
Michigan’s fishing licenses generate revenue that is invested into the state’s fisheries, including providing greater access to world-class fishing opportunities, improving fisheries habitat in inland lakes and streams, and increasing the health and quantity of fish stocked in the state.

The DNR Fisheries Division depends primarily on angler dollars (through license sales and federal excise tax dollars for fishing tackle) to manage the state’s fisheries. Buying a fishing license, even if you do not plan to fish, can make a big difference to the future health of Michigan’s prized freshwaters.

There are two simple ways to purchase fishing licenses in Michigan:

  1. Visit your local license retailer or DNR Customer Service Center and make a purchase in person.
  2. Use the E-License system to buy a license online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just visit on your computer, smart phone or tablet to get started.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, visit


Large Trout Stock in SE Michigan Huron River & Spring Mill Pond

DNR employee holds an adult trout while stocking in southeast Michigan10APR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently stocked 3,350 adult trout in the Huron River at Proud Lake Recreation Area (Oakland County) and Spring Mill Pond at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County).
The Huron River was stocked with 900 brown trout and 1,650 rainbow trout, both sized 15 to 21 inches. Spring Mill Pond was stocked with 200 brown trout and 600 rainbow trout, also measuring 15 to 21 inches long.
This annual stocking activity uses unneeded brown and rainbow trout broodstock from Michigan’s state fish hatcheries. Every year there are surplus adult trout in the hatchery system, which then are stocked in special regulation areas.
Huron River at Proud Lake Recreation Area is closed to fishing Oct. 1 through March 31. From April 1 through April 28 anglers are limited to flies-only, catch-and-release fishing. Youth under the age of 12 may keep one fish between 8 and 12 inches. Beginning April 29, all baits are allowed and anglers may keep up to five trout over 8 inches, but only three over 15 inches.

Spring Mill Pond at Island Lake Recreation Area is closed to fishing March 15 through March 31. From April 1 through April 28th anglers are limited to artificial lures only, catch-and-release fishing. Youth under the age of 12 may keep one fish between 8 and 12 inches. Beginning April 29th, all baits are allowed and anglers may keep up to five fish over 8 inches, but only three fish over 15 inches.

See the 2016-2017 Michigan Fishing Guide for complete regulation details. For more information about this stocking effort, contact the DNR offices at Proud Lake at 248-685-2433, Island Lake at 810-229-7067, or the Waterford Fisheries Office at 248-666-7445.


DNR Advice for Finding a Feathered Friend Nesting in their Yard

3 goslings in grass near body of water05APR17-Michigan residents may get a surprise this spring in their gardens, flower boxes or even in the landscaping by their office buildings. Bird nests can be found in some unusual locations.
Ducks nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations that people may consider inappropriate. While finding a duck’s nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern.
“She will be a very quiet neighbor, and with her cryptic coloration she may go largely unnoticed,” said Holly Vaughn, Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications coordinator. “Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.”

If she is successful and her eggs hatch, the mother duck will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water, often the day they hatch. 
“Don’t worry if you do not live near water, the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it,” said Vaughn.
The female mallard will sit on the nest for about a month prior to the eggs hatching. If the nest fails on its own – something that happens regularly – Vaughn advises to just wish her luck on her next attempt.
Canada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, often near water. Similar to mallards, Canada geese will lead their young to water soon after they hatch. Adult geese can be quite protective of their nests and their goslings and may chase people or pets away by hissing and running or flying toward the intruder. If possible, try to avoid the area. If this is not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away. 
Those fortunate enough to have a bird’s nest built in their yard, in a tree or on the ground may have noticed that the baby birds are starting to outgrow their nests. Baby birds learn to fly through trial and error. They may feel they are ready to fly, but their flight feathers might not have fully grown in yet. It is common to find baby birds on the ground after an attempt to fly. If this is the case, please do not touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.
Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it; however, if you move a baby bird, the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents. 
In the event that you find a chick on the ground that is sparsely feathered, it may have accidentally fallen from the nest before it is ready to fledge (learn to fly). If you know where the nest is, you can put the chick back in the nest ONLY if you can do so safely.
Migratory birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and must be left alone. Unless you have a license, taking a baby bird or eggs from the wild is breaking the law.
Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including birds, in Michigan.  
The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when it is obvious the parent is dead or the animal is injured. A licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Rehabilitators must adhere to the law, must have gone through training on proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals, and will work to return the animal to the wild, where it will have the best chance for survival.

A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting or by calling a local DNR office.


Springtime is a Great Time to Experience Michigan Trails

mother and daughter hiking on wooded trail03APR17-With spring now sprung, a sleeping Michigan giant is waking up – and now is a great opportunity for residents and visitors to see it.
Much like Gulliver, tied down to the ground by the Lilliputians, when this giant awakes, the tendrils holding it stretch a great distance – 12,500 miles, in fact.
However, this giant isn’t Lemuel Gulliver, Paul Bunyan or even Babe the Blue Ox.
It’s Michigan’s growing system of designated trails, ready for endless spring and summertime opportunities to relax, have fun, travel, learn and explore.
From hiking beside beautiful streams through the secluded forests of the Upper Peninsula, to riding side-by-side over a scenic trail in the northern Lower Peninsula, to biking and kayaking and riding a horse, Michigan is known nationally as “The Trails State” because our trails system is – giant.

Fresh off the snowmobile and cross-country skiing season, Michigan Department of Natural Resources trails staff is ready for spring.
“It’s been a long, gray winter, but things are springing to life on Michigan’s trails,” said Paul Yauk, the statewide trails coordinator for the DNR. “It’s a new season. The birds are migrating north, animals are peeking out of forests, the morels are coming soon … what an amazing time to get out onto the trails and see what is out there.”

large group of people walking on trail beside Detroit RiverMichigan is home to 12,500 miles of state-designated trails – including both motorized and non-motorized – and more than 2,600 miles of rail trails (the most of any state in nation).
Hiking in Michigan can be an adventure just in itself, with trails that run the gamut from paved, flat surfaces to tough, rugged terrain that requires boots.
“Public lands provide a wide variety of experiences and levels of difficulty,” Yauk said. “Put those boots on and get out there.
“Hiking is fun for everybody, a family adventure. Take a friend, ask a neighbor. Grab someone you know and take a walk or a hike," he said. "Michigan’s natural resources are second-to-none. Now’s a great time to see for yourself.”
Hiking is a wonderful way to experience the state's unique array of scenic views, abundant wildlife, cultural resources and vibrant communities.

Trails are everywhere – from local parks to regional or state parks or trails.
Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail, for example, is the longest state-designated trail in the nation, covering about 2,064 miles from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.
Featuring two routes, one for hiking and one for biking, the Iron Belle runs through 48 Michigan counties and 240 townships, making it easy for anyone in the state to hit the trail.
More than 1,200 miles of the Iron Belle Trail are designated as hiking trails.

Biker and jogger on trail along Lake Superior shorelineOn the western side of Michigan, the hiking route mostly follows the North Country National Scenic Trail, traversing the west side of the Lower Peninsula and bordering the south shore of Lake Superior in the northern part of the Upper Peninsula.
The Iron Belle Trail – intended as Michigan’s signature trail – continues to expand as partners throughout the state plan and develop more and more trail segments.
More than $34 million in federal, state and local funds has been invested in the trail since 2013.
“The Iron Belle Trail is a perfect example of communities and partners coming together for a common reason – to make this trail a one-of-a-kind destination,” Yauk said.
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund approved about $5 million in grants for Iron Belle Trail projects in December, and the DNR recently awarded $350,000 in grant dollars to 16 communities across the state for further Iron Belle Trail development.

The DNR encourages Scout groups to hit the trail with the third annual Iron Belle Challenge, set for Saturday, June 3.
The challenge, a hiking event offered in conjunction with National Trails Day, highlights the Iron Belle Trail and offers Scouts the opportunity to earn a commemorative patch for participating.
Last year’s hike attracted nearly 1,100 hikers who trekked more than 6,000 miles.
“The past two years we have had great participation from both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts USA,” said Ray Rustem, DNR youth programs specialist. “The Iron Belle Challenge has welcomed Scouts to hike all over the state, in locations like Detroit, Battle Creek, Cheboygan and Ironwood, to name just a few.”
Registration forms for the Iron Belle Challenge can be found at
In addition to the Iron Belle Trail, Michigan offers a wide variety of hiking trails across the state. The DNR maintains many of these trails, which can be found in Michigan state parks, on state forest lands or within wildlife preserves.
Many of the DNR hiking trails are called “pathways” because they loop through forests and along ridges, rivers and lakes. Many of the pathways are located near or are adjacent to state forest (rustic) campgrounds and in state parks and recreation areas – making for a perfect weekend getaway.

woman in wheelchair and man walking on trail along lakeshoreThe state’s trail system also includes several linear trails. Linear trails – also called "out-and-back" or "destination" trails – go from one point to another and typically follow an old railroad track, river or other land feature. They cover long distances.
More information about the wide range of Michigan hiking trails is available on the DNR website at
Aside from the chance to get out and enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors, hiking trails also offer an easy and inexpensive way to get some exercise.
Outdoor exercise has some unique advantages over a gym, according to DNR statewide recreation programmer Maia Turek.
“There are plenty of reasons to take your workout outside,” Turek said. “Enjoying nature’s scenery will distract from your effort or fatigue, so you’ll work out longer. You’ll burn more calories because the varied terrain of a park or trail helps keep you out of a fitness rut and you’ll be happier – breathing fresh air can create a feeling of euphoria.” 

Opportunities to explore Michigan on trails don’t stop with hiking – there are trails for a variety of outdoor interests, including biking and mountain biking trails, equestrian trails, water trails and off-road vehicle trails.
Yauk said Michigan has something to offer for everyone, especially in the spring.
“It’s something you have to see for yourself,” he said. “Michigan offers so many opportunities to get outdoors and walk or bike or kayak. We have 103 state parks to explore and thousands of miles of trails. Michigan is waking up, and this is the season to see it.”
One caveat to keep in mind before hitting the trail, Yauk added. If you mountain bike or ride horses, please avoid trails if they are very wet and muddy so as not to damage the trails and the environment.

For maps and other information on Michigan’s trails, visit

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles.


DNR - MI Free ORV Weekends June 10th - 11th & August 19th - 20th

ORV riding trail23MAR17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites residents and out-of-state visitors to ride DNR-designated routes and trails during two Free ORV Weekends, taking place June 10-11 and Aug. 19-20. Off-road enthusiasts will not need to possess an ORV license or trail permit on these dates, saving riders up to $36.25.
This opportunity is a great way for ORV enthusiasts to explore Michigan's vast system of 3,660 miles of trails and consider purchasing an ORV license or trail permit for the season. Throughout the year, fees generated through ORV licenses and trail permits are reinvested back into the ORV system.
These important dollars help fund trail expansion, maintenance and infrastructure improvements, such as bridge and culvert construction and repair, as well as law enforcement and the offsetting of damage created by illegal use.

"We hope ORV enthusiasts will enjoy their off-road experience during Free ORV Weekend and purchase an ORV license and trail permit for the season," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "It's the perfect opportunity to explore the trails that help build Michigan's reputation as the 'Trails State.'"
In addition, the first Free ORV Weekend also lines up with the Summer Free Fishing Weekend June 10-11, when all fishing license fees will be waived. Residents and out-of-state visitors can enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes' waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations still apply.
Free ORV Weekend not only offers access to 3,660 miles of off-road trails, but also includes use of the state’s five scramble areas, including St. Helen’s Motorsport Area, Black Lake Scramble Area, Silver Lake State Park, Bull Gap and The Mounds.

During Free ORV Weekends, all ORV rules and laws still apply. Riders should remember that:

>Operators under age 16 must have a valid safety training certificate. Michigan will accept ORV/ATV education certifications that are issued by other states and provinces.

>Operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved crash helmet and protective eyewear.

>Riders are encouraged to become familiar with the ORV Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws, available online, at DNR Customer Service Centers or anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

For more information, contact Jessica Holley at 517-331-3790 or Rob Katona at 906-228-6561.

Learn more about ORV trails, maps, permits and other details at


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


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