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Updated 01/17/20

 

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Starting March 1st, Residents will pay $12 for Recreation Passport

The Michigan Recreation Passport gives year-round access to state parks and other outdoor recreation opportunities, and an easy way to help protect natural resources for the next generation

Woman drinking hot chocolate at campfire17JAN20-If you told Michigan residents that for just $1 a month they could enjoy vehicle access to more than 100 state parks and recreation areas, 140 state forest campgrounds, hundreds of miles of state trails, historic sites, family-friendly events, hundreds of boating access sites and other outdoor spaces, most likely would jump at the chance. Starting March 1st, they can.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that the regular Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee for residents will increase from $11 to $12 – the first Recreation Passport price increase since January 2013. All other resident Passport fees stay the same, including those for motorcycles, mopeds and commercial vehicles.
The change is due to a statutory provision to adjust the Recreation Passport fee based upon the Consumer Price Index as determined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That statutory requirement was put into law when the Recreation Passport funding model was created in 2010 to ensure the funding source keeps pace with inflation.

a couple sitting next to the fireDNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said it isn’t widely known that Michigan state parks are largely self-supporting. The steady growth in Recreation Passport revenue has been a key part in helping the department tackle some high-priority areas.

“Although we were not anticipating a $1 increase this year, the additional revenue will help fill in funding gaps,” Olson said. “We are continually working on challenges including rising wages, the ever-increasing cost of goods and services and $278 million worth of significant infrastructure repairs and projects.”
 

Approximately 93.5 percent of state parks funding is generated by user fees and royalty revenues:

  • Camping and lodging reservation fees provide 47 percent.
  • Recreation Passport sales offer 26 percent.
  • Gas and mineral royalty revenues provide 15 percent.
  • Concessions, shelter reservations and other revenue sources bring in another 5.5 percent.

The remaining funding – approximately 6.5 percent – is provided from miscellaneous sources (including general tax dollars).

Recreation Passport back story

group of young men building sandcastles on beachIn 2004, state parks were removed from the state’s general fund because it was believed that camping fees could sustain the then 99-park system. As a result, revenue generated by motor vehicle stickers and camping fees became even more critical.
The Citizens Advisory Committee for Michigan State Parks, created in 2005, was charged with finding a long-term funding solution that would 1) address the nearly $300 million backlog of infrastructure needs, and 2) ensure that Michiganders could affordably continue using the parks. The committee ultimately recommended the creation of the model linking motor vehicle registrations to the Recreation Passport.
“Those early conversations and research done by the citizens committee and many DNR employees laid the foundation for today’s Recreation Passport,” Olson said. “These were important steps in the right direction.”

The next few years made it clear that the existing funding model could not keep the state parks and recreation system afloat. Work on the new Recreation Passport funding model began in earnest, supported by bipartisan cooperation in the state House and the Senate, and the Recreation Passport bill was signed into law in April 2010 and took effect six months later.

Recreation Passport rationale, structure

A group snowshoeing in Muskegon State ParkThe Recreation Passport model is based both on reducing the customer’s cost and tying the purchase of a park pass to the Secretary of State’s vehicle registration process. The change relied on the notion that more people would buy the new Recreation Passport than would purchase the existing motor vehicle permit because:

  • The Recreation Passport purchase option would be put in front of every vehicle owner (rather than just those who visited state parks and bought the motor vehicle permit there).
  • The Recreation Passport (then $10) cost significantly less than the motor vehicle permit ($24).

During the Recreation Passport’s first year, an additional $7 million was generated.

All revenue generated by Recreation Passport sales goes into a restricted fund that supports state park infrastructure and operations, a local grant program for community recreation agencies, state forest campgrounds and nonmotorized pathways and trails, cultural and historic resource restoration, and marketing and promotion.

a man riding a mountain bike on the DTE Trail

Nonresident Recreation Passport fee

The Consumer Price Index change also signaled a one-dollar increase – from $33 to $34 – for nonresident Recreation Passport purchases, effective Jan. 1, 2020. All other passport fees will stay the same.
The start dates for the increase to both residents and nonresidents are staggered due to the time it takes to integrate changes tied to vehicle registration.

See where it can take you

View this 30-second video highlighting just a few of the many outdoor adventures you can enjoy with a Recreation Passport.

Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports, protects and provides easy, affordable access to the great outdoors at Michigan.gov/RecreationPassport.

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Don't Miss Out on Wildlife Weekend January 31st - February 2nd

Group photo of the Michigan, my Michigan participants from the 2019 Wildlife Weekend at the Ralph A. MacMullan Center

16JAN20-Good conversation, hearty food, roaring fires and entertaining classes about the state’s natural history – it’s all part of Wildlife Weekend, January 31st - February 2nd, at the Ralph A. MacMullan Center on scenic Higgins Lake in Roscommon County.
The DNR and the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education have partnered to offer a fun learning experience that DNR education manager Kevin Frailey said is perfect for anyone 18 or older who loves the outdoors and wants to learn more about our natural world. Guests choose one of three learning tracks:

  • Feathered Frenzy. When you look at a bird, can you tell what it eats? If it migrates? Whether it’s a good parent? Can a nest location tell you if the babies are helpless? Do you wonder how birds navigate south? Why some nest here and not in Florida? Join us for activities, media and a walk in the woods to get answers to these and other questions.
  • Black bear in the woods, Iron River, MichiganThe Bear Facts. Bears are intelligent, love to eat and sleep and can outrun a racehorse! North America bruins – black, polar and brown – are mighty mammals surrounded by epic tales of danger, humor and legend. This class uses video, activities, cool props and discussion to cover biology, life cycles, lore, ecological outlook and bear safety basics.
  • Winter Omnibus. Ever wonder how to handle a winter survival situation? Learn survival basics that could come in handy! Try your hand at ice fishing on Higgins Lake, with all equipment (even some warmth) provided. You’ll also learn about snowshoes and how to choose the right pair. This class includes a snowshoe hike (shoes provided) through majestic Hartwick Pines State Park.

There will be plenty of free time to enjoy the scenery, explore trails or just get back in touch with nature. The weekend begins with dinner at 5:30 p.m. Friday, before the first class, and will run through noon Sunday. Get full Wildlife Weekend information and register online.

Questions? Contact Kevin Frailey at 517-284-6043.

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Interactive Map Highlights Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Their Lore

A diver swims around the Cedarville shipwreck16JAN20-The cold, fresh waters of the Great Lakes are literally littered with shipwrecks – pieces of history capturing chapters of a time when transport by water was as important as transport by land.
Some, like the Syracuse, recall the Great Lakes’ sailing heyday, when goods and people routinely plied the lakes along well-used routes. The Syracuse, a two-masted schooner carrying a cargo of coal, sank in Lake Huron on Nov. 10, 1863.
Other shipwrecks speak to more recent times when steel behemoths like the 600-foot Cedarville, shepherding a cargo of limestone, collided with a Norwegian ship in the fog on May 7, 1967. Ten crew members died, and the ship, broken nearly in two, sank in more than a hundred feet of water.
The Syracuse and the Cedarville are among 1,500 shipwrecks submerged in Michigan waters, making up one-quarter of the estimated 6,000 wrecks found throughout the Great Lakes.

Now, thanks to the recently launched Michigan Shipwrecks StoryMap, it’s easy to learn about the mystery and tragedy surrounding these ships.
screen shot of the web map applicationThe Michigan Shipwrecks Public Web App goes even further, offering users a closer look at shipwrecks as well as the locations of lighthouses and boating access sites. Users can search for shipwrecks by name or location or customize and print their own PDF maps.
“This new tool gives divers, kayakers, snorkelers and armchair explorers a chance to learn more about these underwater archaeological sites and the circumstances that led to the shipwrecks,” said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center. “It’s a wonderfully interactive way to help people connect with this part of Michigan’s maritime history.”

The app map offers information about each ship, including:

  • The difficulty level of diving to the wreck.
  • Whether the wreck is accessible by kayak or canoe.
  • The circumstances of the sinking.
  • A description of the ship, with photos and drawings (if available).

The map also highlights Michigan’s underwater preserves and water trails.

Sonar image of the Syracuse wreck from October 2013.Some wrecks, such as the wooden bulk freighter Daisy Day, lie in as little as 10 feet of water and are suitable for beginning divers and visible to paddlers and snorkelers.
Others, such as the Indiana, a propeller vessel that went down in Lake Superior in 1858, are in more than 100 feet of water and require advanced diving skills.
The map will be updated as more ships are discovered and more information becomes available.
Users may notice that some high-profile wrecks, such as the Carl D Bradley, which sank in Lake Michigan in November 1958, are not listed. Because crew members went down with these ships, they are considered underwater burial sites.
Clark reminds the public that Michigan law prohibits removal of any artifacts from shipwrecks.

“The wrecks on the Great Lakes bottomlands belong to the people of Michigan,” she said. “If everyone follows the rule of ’take only pictures and leave only bubbles,” we can ensure that these underwater time capsules will be available for future generations to explore, research and enjoy.”

Visit and explore both the story map and public web app at Michigan.gov/ExploreShipwrecks.

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DNR Approves Nearly $2 Million in Recreation Grants for Local Park and Trail Improvement, Development

Playground_development

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently approved nearly $2 million in Recreation Passport grant funding. The $1,993,500 will be shared by 18 communities across the state for local park improvement projects, including playground development and renovations, sports and fitness facility development and improvements, trail and walkway development and park improvements.
View a full list and descriptions of the most recent Recreation Passport Grant Program recipients. Counties where funded grant projects have been approved include Alcona, Antrim, Bay, Benzie (two projects), Berrien, Genesee, Houghton, Lapeer, Lenawee, Mecosta, Midland, Ogemaw, Presque Isle, Saginaw, Sanilac, Schoolcraft and Wexford.
The selected projects were chosen from a field of 70 grant applications seeking $7.3 million in local funding, the largest demand to date in the program’s nine-year history. Successful applicants clearly demonstrated projects designed to increase public access to quality outdoor recreation opportunities.

Park pavilion“Recreation Passport grants support local government efforts to offer residents and visitors quality recreation opportunities,” said Dan Lord, DNR grants manager. “Together, state and local governments work closely to improve quality of life and increase tourism in communities across the state.”
Funding for this program is derived from sales of Michigan’s
Recreation Passport, required for vehicle entry into 103 state parks and recreation areas, 140 state forest campgrounds, hundreds of miles of state trails, historic sites, hundreds of boating access sites and other outdoor spaces.
The Recreation Passport can be purchased by residents at the time of vehicle registration renewal with the Secretary of State or in person at state parks. Non-residents can purchase online or in person at state parks. Passport sales – along with revenue generated from camping fees – are a key source of funding for the state parks system.

In addition, 10% of funding derived from Recreation Passport sales goes directly to this grant program. The Recreation Passport was introduced in 2010, with grant funding nearly doubling in the past five years.
“It’s very encouraging to see the continued growth in the Recreation Passport, enabling the local grant program to increase,” said Ron Olson, DNR parks and recreation chief. “When people choose to support the Recreation Passport program while renewing their license plate registration with the Secretary of State, our local communities benefit, too. The more people who participate in this program, the more is given back to our local communities.”

Application materials for the next round of Recreation Passport grants, due April 1, 2020, are available at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.

Questions? Call DNR the Grants Management Section at 517-284-7268 or email DNR-Grants@Michigan.gov.

 

Tribute To An Old Friend

By JOHN PEPIN - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

“She’s knotty but nice, reaching for the sky, she don’t like snow or ice,” – Gordon Lightfoot

Hemlock trees tower to the sky, photographed from below.10JAN20-In the burnt sunlight of a late afternoon, I followed a rocky trail down one side of an ancient volcanic rock face. The steep trail was rugged and twisted down into the forest below.
Once there, I stopped.
Looking up, I could no longer see the craggy, black rocks near the top of the lichen- covered face of the cliff. They were obscured by a dark green cover of pine needles and branches lightly perched high in the canopy.
I ran my hand over the dark reddish-brown bark of one of the trees. Still staring skyward, I enjoyed the peace and comfort of feeling small in the shadow of these forest giants. It was my old friend hemlock.
Sometimes called the Canada hemlock or the hemlock spruce, some eastern hemlock trees can live to be almost a thousand years old. Most manage to survive on the earth about half that long. God knows how old these were.
They turn their branches away from the prevailing winds. Lightning strikes, fires threatening their shallow root systems and windstorms are among their toughest foes.

Forest creatures like white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse and the snowshoe hare all find food and shelter among these trees.

A raging waterfall is viewed through the lower branches of a hemlock tree.

This hemlock I’m describing is a species of pine, not to be confused with the poison Greek philosopher Socrates picked to end his life. His tea was brewed from the crushed leaves of the hemlock plant, also called “beaver poison” and “devil’s flower.”
The plants, which have small white flowers, are not native to America. When the leaves are crushed, they have an unpleasant smell. The same can be said of the needles of the hemlock tree – and therein lies the root of any confusion.
This similarity led to these attractive trees being named hemlocks, but unlike the 3- to 5-foot-tall flowering plants, hemlock trees are not poisonous.
Today, Michigan is home to over 170 million native hemlocks. Hemlock wood is used in newsprint and wrapping paper or to make boxes and crates, as well as railroad ties and timbers used in mining operations.

During Michigan’s historic pine timbering days, hemlocks were avoided, with the wood less suited for lumber compared to some other pine species. The bark was stripped from hemlocks for use, as it is today, for tannin for leather.
Campers know when a piece of hemlock wood has found its way into the fire pit by the loud pops and cracks it makes when it burns.
As time passed, the demand for pulpwood tree species – including hemlock – increased. During World War II, pulpwood, because of reliance on paper goods for countless items, was an important material needed for the war effort.
In the early 1940s, a movement was underway to save from the woodsman’s ax the intact hemlock-hardwood stands in the western Upper Peninsula – in particular, those trees located in what was to become Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
In October 1941, an article in the Detroit Free Press predicted a dire future for those timberlands if they were not saved.

A bridge at the bottom of an escarpment is shown from above.“At the present rate of cutting, the largest single stand of virgin hardwood in the United States, covering 250 square miles of rugged country in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties, known as the Porcupine Mountains, will be reduced to a tree-less stump-covered waste in less than 10 years,” the paper reported.
In those days, the Porcupine Mountains – the highest range between New York’s Adirondacks and the Black Hills of Dakota – still were attracting thousands of tourists, despite limited access.
“A road now runs along Lake Superior from Silver City to the bottom of the range, and a short, stiff climb brings sightseers to the top of the escarpment which overlooks the lake,” the Free Press story said. “Besides the road to Lake of the Clouds, there is only one other access to the road-less wilderness area of the Porcupines. That is the country highway that leads to the mouth of the Black River and Black River Park, one of the outstanding scenic spots in Michigan.”

The newspaper outlined the aims of those conservation-minded people organized to help preserve the area.
“A vacation-ground whose delights are just beginning to be discovered will lose much of its appeal,” the newspaper said. “This is the dread prospect—unless this great area of privately-owned land can be brought into government ownership so that the timber may be harvested on a selective basis.”
A 1943 Michigan Department of Conservation proposal urging land purchases for preservation as a park described the hemlock-hardwoods of the Porcupine Mountains.
“Except for an area immediately adjacent to Lake Superior, the slopes are covered with virgin forest growth of the hardwood-hemlock type, with small scattered patches of old-growth white pine interspersed,” the report read. “Almost every phase of this type is present, varying from almost pure hardwoods, maple, birch and basswood on the upper slopes through varying degrees of hemlock mixtures, to the stands on the lower flats where hemlock predominates.”

A view of Lake of the Clouds is shown from an overlook.

This lower, moist area where the hemlocks stand tall is where I stood admiring the growth of these magnificent trees. These rugged mountains offer many places where hemlock cathedrals provide inspiring places for peace and reflection – nature’s beautiful churches – open to all.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan’s largest state park at roughly 60,000 acres – was established here in 1945. The park gained the “wilderness” part of its title in 1972, after passage of the Wilderness and Natural Areas Act.
For some reason to me, some trees appear “friendlier” than others. Hemlocks are among those trees that seem soft and pleasing – with their short, flat needles and tiny cones – yet strong and tall, some with trunks as thick as yardsticks.
I encounter my old friends often, and not just in the Porcupine Mountains – often with white cedars and balsam firs – in the wet swamps I haunt looking for cagey trout, wild bird songs and pretty pictures.

Here, in the places where black muck is king, hemlocks can offer a leg-up, a shady place to eat a sandwich or a firm place to rest your back.
Before turning back up the trail. I paused along the shoreline at the Lake of the Clouds. The trees of these famed forests cast beautiful swirls of watercolor magic across the placid surface of the lake.
At the top of the craggy escarpment again, I took one last look at those hemlocks now far below me.
Just knowing they were there would bring me peace of mind in the days ahead , days filled with ringing telephones, traffic noise and the television news talking every night about the laces woven around our fractious world seemingly coming apart.

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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Select UP Streams No Longer Have Bigger Brook Trout Possession

Close-up of brook trout in angler's hands10JAN20-An experimental regulation that allowed for 33 streams in the Upper Peninsula to have a 10-fish daily possession limit for brook trout is no longer in effect. During its regular meeting today in Lansing, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted to return the five-fish daily limit to those streams, effectively immediately.
The regulation expired October 1st, 2019, and the
commission then voted in November to extend it.
Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists had recommended against re-instituting the 10-brook trout daily possession limit on the select streams because of concerns based on biological and social science.
The newly approved regulation means all Type 1 streams, which are designated trout streams, in the Upper Peninsula are back to having a five-fish daily possession limit for brook trout. The streams with previously higher daily possession limit represented about 8% of the total mileage for Type 1 streams in the U.P.

The 2020 season on Type 1 trout streams will open April 25th.

For more information on Michigan’s fishing regulations, check out the 2019 Michigan Fishing Guide at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests

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Be A Host at Hartwick Pines Memorial Building, Camp For Free

three people in front of Hartwick Pines Memorial Building10JAN20-Hartwick Pines State Park, located just northeast of Grayling, is seeking volunteer hosts for the newly reopened Memorial Building this summer. Participating hosts will have the privilege of camping for free at Hartwick Pines State Park campground, and presenting programs and leading tours at the historic Memorial Building. The host schedule is designed to allow time to enjoy recreational activities on your own while providing valuable volunteer services.
The Memorial Building – a rustic, lodge-style building that was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and served as the park’s visitor center until 1994 – is a popular landmark in the park.
The program will take place from May 19th through October 31st. Hosts are asked to participate for at least one week but no longer than one month.

The Hartwick Pines Memorial Building Host Program application period is open through February 29th

Learn more about this and other DNR volunteer host opportunities – including the campground host and Tawas Point Lighthouse keeper programs – at Michigan.gov/DNRHosts

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Rabid About 'Rabbit Time'

By RYAN SOULARD - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A boy is pictured sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck with his dog and a dead rabbit.31DEC19-As the snow starts to fly and the days get shorter, that means one thing for many folks – Rabbit Time!
Rabbit hunting provides an excellent opportunity to get outside this winter, get some exercise, and hopefully bag a rabbit or two if you’re lucky.
My Grandpa Moon used to tell me tales of rabbit hunting with his beagle and his Belgian-made Browning A5 shotgun. Unfortunately, by the time I came along, my grandpa had gotten out of hunting, but the stories sure lived on.
Spending a big portion of his life in Alabama, he was a storyteller without even trying hard at it. I can remember being in awe listening to him tell stories of bringing rabbits home for my mom and grandma to clean, which as a kid was something I just couldn’t comprehend.
“Rynee,” as he liked to call me in that deep Southern accent, “those rabbits made some fine vittles.”
It wasn’t until my late 20s that a group of guys I met from the Grand Rapids area introduced me to rabbit hunting the old-fashioned way, without the use of dogs.

You can have a lot of success with some good old-fashioned stomping through the brush. The cottontail rabbit really prefers brushy and overgrown areas like old fence rows, brush piles, stands of conifers, orchards, stands of grass and overgrown fields.
I can recall my first rabbit hunt, fresh snow on the ground, the crisp cold air and bright blue skies. Naturally, I wasn’t prepared for just how much walking we would do, and I wore way too many clothes, based on what the temperature was, just standing still.
There were several of us who embarked into an old overgrown apple orchard surrounded by old fields. We all made sure we had plenty of orange on and began our march, side by side through the woods.

A man holds a rabbit he shot up and away from his dog.Bobbing, weaving, stomping and kicking brush, along with a little huffing and puffing at times to catch our breath, not only from the exercise but from the endless number of laughs.
When you are on a good rabbit hunt, the amount of rabbits you encounter seems to be in direct correlation with the amount of laughs you have throughout the day.
This is generally caused by rabbits squirming and running in between people, coming out of a brush pile the opposite way you thought they would, shots at snow where a rabbit stood moments before, and there is always someone toppling over at some point, shins tangled in vines, sticks, or that log you didn’t see under the snow.
Hopefully at the end of the hunt, you are not only rewarded with some great memories, but also some delicious rabbits for the dinner table.

After several years of going with my friends to spots across West Michigan to hunt rabbits without a dog, I was fortunate enough to get invited by now retired Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division Assistant Chief Doug Reeves to hunt with him on his farm near Brant, along with his trusty beagle Roscoe.
I was warned that Roscoe was old, hard of hearing, had poor eyesight and was nearing retirement, but he still loved to run rabbits. We met up one January day at Doug’s place. Roscoe was sitting in his kennel eyeing us get dressed and ready for the hunt.
As Doug, and another coworker, Ann LeClaire, and I headed down the path toward the fields behind the house, my excitement was building. It wasn’t long after we circled around the first brush piles that Roscoe let out a bellow.

The author is pictured as part of a successful hunting party.“There it goes,” yelled Doug in excitement, as a rabbit shot like a rocket off into the thick brush. Roscoe came up slowly but surely, hot on the rabbit’s trail, letting out another bark every few feet to signify to Doug that he still had the rabbit’s scent and was trailing it.
When a beagle jumps a rabbit, the rabbit will lead him all over, trying to evade the dog, eventually running back in a circle to where it started. If you are properly positioned and are on the ready, then maybe you will have a shot at the rabbit while it bobs, weaves and darts through the briars.
We had numerous opportunities to shoot at rabbits but hitting them was a different story.
My best memories of going hunting with Doug weren’t just the rabbits that we were able to bag, but all the other aspects of the hunt. Walking through a freshly snow-covered field and seeing tracks of animals you maybe never knew existed out there before; seeing birds, such as cardinals, whose colors appear to be almost fake they are so vibrant and beautiful; or hearing old stories of hunts and gatherings that have happened on the farm.

“Here is that spot I kicked a pheasant up last year.”
“Here is where my wife, Diane, shot a turkey a couple years ago.”
“Here is where I saw a coyote last winter hiding in the brush pile as we were running rabbits.”
One of the best parts of those hunts was having lunch prepared by Doug and his wife back at the house after a couple hours of walking. To date, one of the favorite recipes I’ve ever had prepared for any wild game was the “
sherry baked rabbit” Doug prepared on my first trip to the farm.
In writing this article, I sent a note to three other DNR employees who are avid rabbit hunters. Two of them hunt exclusively with beagles, and one is where I was about 15 years ago, having never hunted behind dogs.

Three DNR Wildlife Division employees pose with the rabbits they shot.I asked them what their favorite part of rabbit hunting is. The answer was unanimous – it’s the comradery: being able to talk, yell, laugh, scream and poke fun at each other while spending the day together.
There is an old Waylon Jennings song that has a line that says, “If you want to get the rabbit out the L-O-G, you have to make a commotion like a D-O-G.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have thought of that line when out rabbit hunting. I’ve witnessed friends of mine do everything from standing atop an 8-foot brush pile and bouncing up and down on it to crawling on their hands and knees going after a rabbit under some thick brush.
One of the best parts of rabbit hunting is that there really isn’t much fancy equipment required. You must wear some blaze orange, but aside from that, it really is up to you. 
A lot of people prefer to wear a vest, but old Carhartt’s are fine, jeans on some days, an old flannel or a combination of all the above. Some heavy canvas-type pants are a good investment, mainly to avoid snags and pickers.

My favorite gun to use rabbit hunting is a shotgun with a very open choke tube, so that the shot spreads out fast and wide, typically either 6s or 7.5s. There are some out there who hunt with a .22 rimfire rifle, slowly stalking and creeping along to get a shot at a rabbit either sitting still or running.
Depending on your method, rabbit hunting is something that can be done by young, old or anyone in between. Hunters who have trouble getting around, in many cases, can be posted up to stand guard, maybe at the end of a field or swale.
If you have kids, or maybe a friend or neighbor does, it is the perfect opportunity to have them tag along. It is great to be able to have them share in the splendor of the hunt, educate them along the way about things such as old buck rubs and animal tracks, or just get them unplugged from social media for a while.
Whatever the case, don’t wait to plan that rabbit hunt.
Before you know it, winter will be over, and you will be kicking yourself wishing that you got outdoors a little more this winter. Find a friend, explore a state game area, or maybe knock on a few farmers’ doors to ask permission to hunt rabbits.
Rabbits or no rabbits, you won’t regret your time outside stomping around this winter, and if you are lucky, you can bring a rabbit or two home to make into a delicious meal.

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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Share Your Thoughts with the DNR at Upcoming Meetings

31DEC19-The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing Michigan residents the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities. One important avenue for this input is at meetings of the public bodies that advise the DNR and, in some cases, also set policies for natural resource management.
The following
boards, commissions, committees and councils will hold public meetings next month, and the public is invited to attend. The links below will take you to the webpage for each group, where you will find specific meeting locations and, when finalized, meeting agendas.
Please check these pages frequently, as meeting details and agendas may change and sometimes meetings are canceled.

January meetings

  • Michigan Wildlife Council – (Regular meeting) January 27th, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., (installation of mosaic) January 28th, 10 a.m., Michigan History Center, Lansing (Contact: Pam Vance, 517-284-6056)
  • Pigeon River Country Advisory Council January 24th, 5 p.m., Corwith Township Hall, Vanderbilt (Contact: Greg Rekowski, 989-983-4101)

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Three More Elk Poached in Northern Michigan

Three elk-poached-1217201930DEC19-Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in Gaylord are seeking tips from the public regarding three adult cow elk poached in Otsego County – the third elk poaching case in northern Michigan in roughly a month.

“This is the worst year we’ve had as far as elk poaching,” said Lt. Jim Gorno.

Area residents found the three elk about 50 yards north of Hardwood Lake Road near Bobcat Trail, in the Pigeon River State Forest, east of Vanderbilt. Officers believe that the three elk were shot either Saturday or Sunday while they were bedded down near each other.

"This is a loss for everyone who appreciates our state’s natural resources. It’s a true shame,” said Gorno. “If you or anyone you know has information that can help us solve this crime, we want to hear from you.”

Gorno said that the public tips received regarding a bull elk poached in November helped identify a suspect in that case. 

Anyone with information regarding this poaching incident can contact the DNR Law Enforcement Division at the DNR Customer Service Center in Gaylord at 989-732-3541, or call or text the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800, available 24/7 year-round. Information can be left anonymously; monetary rewards are available for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of violators.

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Follow Animal Footprints to Track Down Some Winter Fun

A bobcat paw print in the snow27DEC19-Everything looks a little different with a blanket of freshly fallen snow, and some things – like animal tracks – become even easier to see. It might be challenging to spot Michigan’s more elusive critters, but many do leave clues behind. That’s one reason winter is a fun time to get out and explore different habitats.
Tracking wildlife can be done at any time of the year, but snow makes a great backdrop for animal tracks. If there’s no snow or wet sand, then soil or mud can work well, too.
“Figuring out which species produced the tracks you find is like solving a puzzle and can be done readily with the right book or tracks chart,” said Hannah Schauer, a wildlife communications and education coordinator with the DNR Wildlife Division. She pointed to some
sketches of animal tracks available online to get started.

“Key in on the overall shape and size of the track, if you can, and try to distinguish the number of toes the animal has,” Schauer said. “Raccoons show ‘fingers’ not unlike our own. Beavers have webbed feet. Deer have a familiar two-hooved print, while most birds have three toes pointing forward and one facing backward.”
Hopping and walking patterns can help, too. Looking for claw marks also can help you determine whether you’re looking at cat tracks (such as bobcat), which lack the claw marks shown by dogs (like fox and coyote).

Other tips:

  • Take a journal and camera to document tracks and other observations, like where tracks start or stop.
  • A ruler can help track measurements, which can point to species.

No matter where you search for tracks – there are plenty of wildlife watching opportunities at state wildlife/game areas, in recreation areas or in local communities – grab your skis, snowshoes or muck boots and get out there!

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

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Business Partnerships Available in State Parks, Harbors

A concessions worker at Petoskey State Park scoops up ice cream for a park visitor while another employee assists customers at the register

27DEC19-Every year, more than 28 million people head to Michigan state parks and harbors to enjoy the outdoors. The business operators who provide food and beverage sales, equipment rentals, horse stable operations, firewood and merchandise sales, lighthouse tours, shuttle service and other recreation-related services in many of these destinations play a big role in the experience.
The DNR Parks and Recreation Division offers opportunities each year for partnerships to operate concessions and other business prospects. Currently, nearly 75 concessionaires operate some type of business within the Michigan state parks and recreation system. In addition to generating revenue for the DNR, these business operations also help create jobs within the state’s private sector.

“Our business operators provide tremendous services to our customers every year,” said Lori Ruff, DNR Parks and Recreation Division concession and lease manager. “They improve and add value to the visitor experience in many ways, offering services that staff otherwise could not provide.”
Right now, the DNR is offering a number of business opportunities to operate concessions and other services at several DNR properties, including openings for beach and camp stores, mobile food operations, water park operations, watercraft rentals, a riding stable, electric vehicle charging stations and others.

Visit Michigan.gov/StateParkConcessions to see a list of current opportunities and locations. This list is regularly updated as opportunities are added or filled.

Individuals and business owners interested in submitting a bid, asking a question or being added to an informational mailing list are encouraged to contact Lori Ruff at RuffL@Michigan.gov or 989-275-5151, ext. 2722006. She will answer bidding process questions and notify people when new opportunities arise.

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ICYMI: Successfully Eradicating Invasive Yellow Floating Heart

three people holding a net, removing yellow floating heart from a pond27DEC19-It may look pretty, with its brightly colored flowers and heart-shaped flowers, but yellow floating heart is an invasive aquatic plant that can quickly form dense mats on the surface of water. Those mats then can shade out native plants and cause problems for people swimming, boating, fishing or enjoying other forms of water-based recreation. In Michigan, yellow floating heart is a prohibited species, which means it is illegal for anyone here to buy, sell or possess it.

Two yellow floating heart infestations – one in the reflection pond at the Clara Ford Rose Garden in Dearborn, and a smaller infestation in a small pond at the Red Oaks Nature Center in Madison Heights – were successfully eradicated, thanks in large part to a strong partnership effort by the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the Red Oaks Nature Center. In total, more than 1,000 pounds of the pesky plant were manually removed in 2016, and annual monitoring efforts since then show the sites remain free of the species. When a site is free of an aquatic invasive plant for three consecutive years, that species is considered eradicated from that location.

Read the full news release about this success story from southeast Michigan.

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2020 Black Lake Sturgeon Season Begins February First

older man wearing holding a lake sturgeon26DEC19-Eager for the chance to catch one of Michigan’s most unique fish? The wait will soon be over! The lake sturgeon season on Black Lake, in Cheboygan County, begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, February 1st, so make sure your license and registration are in order. Registration is required to participate in this season.
The total 2020 season allocation on Black Lake is seven lake sturgeon. However, to reduce the risk of exceeding this limit, officials will close the season when one of two scenarios occurs:

  1. The sixth fish is harvested.
  2. Five fish have been harvested at the end of any fishing day.

Daily season fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The season will either end at 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 5th, or when one of the above scenarios is met, at which point DNR personnel on the ice will immediately notify anglers to stop fishing for lake sturgeon.

Participating anglers must register for the season, and anglers age 17 or older must have a valid Michigan fishing license. Early registration will be held at the DNR Onaway Field Station (approximately 5 miles north of Onaway on Route 211) from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday, January 31st. Anglers can pick up the required fishing identification flags and learn more about season logistics and lake sturgeon populations.
Anglers are highly encouraged to take part in the early registration Friday, but those unable do so may register the next day at the registration trailer at Zolner Road ending on Black Lake. Morning registration begins at 7 a.m. each day of the season.
Any angler who successfully takes a lake sturgeon must contact an on-ice DNR employee and register the fish at the Zolner Road trailer registration site on Black Lake. Registration may include an examination of the fish’s internal organs and removal of a piece of fin tissue for DNA analysis and aging.

Questions? Contact Tim Cwalinski, 989-732-3541, ext. 5072.

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Learn About Food Plots, Ice Fishing, Wild Mushrooms and More at 2020 Outdoor Skills Academy

a thin mesh bag full of morel mushrooms

26DEC19-Interested in attracting bluebirds to your yard? Learning the ins and outs of bear hunting in the Michigan woods? How about tying an expert tie and fly fishing like a pro? The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy 2020 class schedule currently is filled with more than a dozen opportunities to do all of this and much more, starting with the Hard Water School (ice fishing) January 25th - 26th at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac. Additional classes will be added as details are finalized.
DNR park interpreter and academy coordinator Ed Shaw said the concept launched a few years back at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (in Mitchell State Park) as a way to help people of all experience and skill levels learn more about hunting and fishing in Michigan. Since then, the class offerings have expanded to include everything from wildlife photography and mushroom identification to snowshoe weaving and developing deer food plots, and the class locations have spread to other locations, too. 

“Whether you're looking to get started with a new outdoor activity or want to brush up on your skills and learn some tips and tricks, the academy pro-staff can help,” Shaw said. “These affordable classes and clinics are unique because they explore topics in-depth – for a full day or more – with knowledgeable, skilled instructors leading the way."

Learn more about the academy and full class schedule at Michigan.gov/Outdoor Skills, or contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.

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State Park Campground Hosts Connect With Visitors, Camp For Free

Older man and woman wearing DNR hats and shirts, serving as Lime Island Recreation Area campground hosts, 201826DEC19-For many people who love spending time in Michigan state parks, serving as a campground host just might be the perfect gig. Right now, the DNR is accepting applications for campground hosts at many locations across the state. 
Volunteer campground hosts enjoy waived camping fees, in exchange for 30 hours of service per week, handling things like:

  • Helping people find their campsites.
  • Planning campground activities.
  • Performing light maintenance duties.

"These campground hosting spots are great opportunities for people to give back in a meaningful way to the parks that are special to them," said Michelle Coss, fund and resource development specialist with DNR Parks and Recreation. "Many of our veteran campers love this program because it gives them a chance to help shape the experience for some people who are brand new to the magic of state parks."

Anyone seeking more information about this program is encouraged to contact Michelle Coss at 517-881-5884. Learn more about all hosting opportunities (including at Hartwick Pines Memorial Building and Tawas Point Lighthouse) at Michigan.gov/DNRHosts

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Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board Recommends $25 Million to Enhance Public Outdoor Recreation

23DEC19-This week the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommended $25 million in grant awards for outdoor recreation development and land acquisition projects to the state Legislature.
This funding will support a diverse range of projects, some of which include land acquisition for wildlife and fishery habitat conservation and access, community pathway connections, development of urban parks and playscapes, sports field enhancements and river access.

“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is critical in providing people of all ages and abilities with more and better opportunities to experience our state’s woods, water and outdoor heritage,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Every year, millions of residents and visitors swim our lakes, hike our forests, bike our trails and connect with the outdoors in dozens of other ways. Trust Fund support, this year and every year, ensures that those experiences are here for current and future generations.”
The board this year recommended $25.6 million in grant funding, including $11.5 million for
60 recreation development projects and $14.1 million for 18 land acquisition projects. Grant recipients have committed to providing matching funds of $17 million, bringing the total investment in outdoor recreation and conservation to nearly $43 million for this funding cycle.
Of the $14.1 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $10.3 million would be awarded to local units of government and $3.8 million would support five DNR projects. Of the $11.5 million recommended to fund development grants, $9.6 million would support 51 local government projects and $1.9 million would support nine DNR projects.
The board considered a total of 160 applications seeking nearly $54 million in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated on scoring criteria developed by the board.
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund – a restricted fund established in 1976 to support land conservation and outdoor recreation – is financed through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals such as oil and natural gas. Throughout its history, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1.1 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve public outdoor recreation opportunities in all 83 counties.
“Over the past 40-plus years, the Trust Fund has improved the quality of life for people in every county of Michigan,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Trust Fund grants have leveraged additional dollars from local government partners to expand outdoor recreation opportunities, ensure the conservation and protection of our natural resources and fuel Michigan’s economic growth.”

The board’s recommendations will go to the state Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. Upon approval, the Legislature will forward a bill for the governor’s signature.

More information about the final 2019 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommendations is available at Michigan.gov/MNRTF. Learn more about the Trust Fund through a short video.

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NRC Honors Thomas Bailey - Lifetime Commitment to Conservation

NRC Award - Tom Bailey23DEC19-The Michigan Natural Resources Commission recently honored longtime conservationist Thomas Bailey with the Thomas L. Washington Award for Lifetime Commitment to Conservation and Outdoor Recreation at the commission’s regular monthly meeting, which took place yesterday in Comstock Park. Bailey, a Petoskey-area resident whose career included 34 years at the helm of the Little Traverse Conservancy, has played an integral role advocating for the state’s natural resources and recreation opportunities.
“As my friend and mentor David Irish once observed, conservation work is its own reward,” Bailey said. “Having been so blessed to be able to do this work for its own sake, I am especially grateful to receive this recognition.”
Bailey’s love for Michigan’s natural resources started young. The son of a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, Bailey said that his early life was steeped in conservation work and education.
“My dad was my greatest mentor. He taught me not only to enjoy the outdoors, but also work to protect it.”

That upbringing developed into a lasting passion. Bailey became involved in environmental activism in high school, taking the short walk from his family home in Marquette to Northern Michigan University across the street to participate in campus meetings and discussions. At just 17, Bailey traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before the U.S. Senate Interior Committee as part of a plan to include Isle Royale National Park in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
“Tom embodies the spirit of old-school conservationists,” said Chris Tracy, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission member who nominated Bailey for the award. “He’s lived and breathed natural resources conservation in Michigan and beyond for more than 40 years. His dedication to conservation is truly inspiring.”
Bailey pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Park and Recreation Resources at Michigan State University and completed graduate studies at MSU in land use, resource economics and environmental law. Throughout that time, he advocated for conservation work and environmental rights at the state capitol. He went on to serve as a national park ranger at Isle Royale and Grand Portage (Minnesota) before joining the DNR in Lansing in the late 1970s. In 1984, Bailey made the move to the Little Traverse Conservancy in Harbor Springs, Michigan, serving as the organization’s executive director until 2018.
“I was in the right place in the right time with the right organization,” Bailey said.
Under his leadership, the conservancy protected around 60,000 acres of land. By acquiring these lands for federal, state and local agencies to be dedicated as nature preserves and working forests, the conservancy ensured the preservation and continuation of these natural areas for years to come.
“Whether learning about environmental legislation in high school or working with the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to safeguard beautiful natural areas for the enjoyment of future generations, Tom Bailey’s life is a powerful testament to the difference one person can make in the world around them,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Conservation is a team sport, and Michigan is fortunate to have had Tom on the all-star team.”
Since his retirement from the Little Traverse Conservancy, Bailey and his wife, Heidi, have more time to travel, frequenting “out west” places including the Black Hills and Yellowstone. But he never stays away too long.
“I always come home to Michigan,” said Bailey. “I come back to the clear waters, green forests, hills and fields of home. I come home appreciating the time I have now to savor what we have all worked together to save. “
Bailey co-founded the Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy and the Top of Michigan Trails Council, and currently serves on the Lake Superior State University Board of Trustees and the Iron Belle Trail Fund Campaign. Throughout his storied career, he has worked with many national, state and local nonprofit groups for the betterment of the conservation field. He also has published a book: “A North Country Almanac: Reflections of an Old-School Conservationist in a Modern World.”
The conservation award is named for Thomas L. Washington, past director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs and a giant in Michigan conservation. During his life, Washington helped build coalitions of conservationists and environmentalists to achieve landmark initiatives that benefit Michigan residents to this day.
Award nominations are submitted for consideration by a member of the NRC and chosen by commission members in consultation with the DNR director.

For more information about the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, visit Michigan.gov/NRC.

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 Michigan.gov/DNR.

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Continued Winter Storm Cleanup Impacts Recreational Trails

Plenty of good snow, plenty of trail hazards

A bulldozer moves along a snowmobile trail in Marquette County.23DEC19-The effects from a pair of severe late-November snowstorms are still being felt across much of northern Michigan as work crews continue efforts to clear and groom snowmobile and ski trails.
“The number of downed trees and limbs is astonishing,” said Rob Katona, central Upper Peninsula trails specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Parks and Recreation Division. “We haven’t seen conditions like this in recent history.”
Many trails remain open, but riders are urged to use extra caution, watching out for hazards obscured by snow, like logs, rocks or stumps, or trails left impassable.
The storms brought more than 2 feet of snow to some areas, blocking trails and weighing down tree limbs. In many places, young birches, oaks and other small-diameter trees have been bent over, arched across trails to the ground, where treetops are held in place, buried with snow.

“Heavy, deep snows have created a good base for snowmobile riding but with that has come fallen and blown-down trees,” said Jerry Fitzgibbon, DNR acting district law supervisor for the eastern Upper Peninsula. “Trail crews have been working to clear the trails, but many trails remain cluttered and not passable.”
Backroads, wetlands and lake surfaces also present hazardous challenges.

A man cuts a downed tree with a chainsaw.“For those who ride the seasonal roads, be ready for obstacles as many are not passable for the fallen and leaning trees,” Fitzgibbon said. “Inland lakes had little ice when the snow came and are now insulated by feet of snow, making ice formation poor and unpredictable. Low-lying areas remain wet and unfrozen.”
Even in areas where trails are passable, riders need to be careful.
“Although a trail section may be cleared and open, riders should still expect to encounter numerous low-hanging tree branches, along with rough trail conditions and some water holes,” Katona said.
Since soon after the storms hit, the DNR’s contracted snowmobile clubs have been clearing downed trees and grooming trails to try to ready them for riders.
In some of these places, usual means have been insufficient to meet the challenge.
“The clubs have been renting heavy equipment, such as dozers and excavators, to assist with the clearing, but even with that equipment some trail segments have been very difficult to clear,” Katona said.

In Marquette County – which has suffered significant trail problems – North Country Tree Care was hired to help remove trees in sloped places too difficult to clear of debris even with heavy equipment.

A piston bully pushes trees from a ski trail.

At the Blueberry Ridge Pathway, south of Marquette, DNR workers recently battled tough conditions there to clear the cross-country ski trails. A piston bully was used to push many fallen trees off trails, while workers used chainsaws and axes to remove the trees and boughs.
Groomers then improved the trails, which were groomed this week and are reported in good condition.
With cold weather forecast for next week, and continued efforts to clear and groom trails, DNR trails staffers think the snowmobile and ski trails may be ready for an anticipated influx of users during the holidays.
Meanwhile, recreational trail users should refer to local snowmobile and ski club, or tourism and recreation, websites for the latest trail conditions.

See a map showing some places in the central U.P. still needing significant snowmobile trail work.

For the greater Marquette County area, visit Travel Marquette’s trail conditions listings at travelmarquettemichigan.com/trail-conditions.

For more information on snowmobiling in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.

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Shoreline Protection Continues at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Efforts continue to protect eastern entrance road to Michigan’s largest state park

20DEC19-Work begun in August to protect the main east access road to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is continuing in the face of violent late fall storms off Lake Superior.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Ontonagon County Road Commission have teamed up to protect County Road 107 to ensure continued east access to the 60,000-acre park and its signature attractions.
The DNR is not typically involved in county road projects but is in this case because of the road’s importance to the park. About 80 percent of the 1.6-mile stretch of affected county road has less than 20 feet of shoreline between the lake’s edge and the road.

“Without this main access way, should a road washout or undermining occur, visitors to the park’s east end may be required to take an 80-mile detour, via west end entry, or be prevented altogether from reaching numerous points of interest,” said Eric Cadeau, a DNR Parks and Recreation Division regional planner.
Some of those points of interest include the Lake of the Clouds overlook, Union Bay Campground and the park’s ski area.

"Access to the Lake of the Clouds and to the great resources of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is critical for visitors and area tourism," said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief.
The DNR and road commission spent a combined total of $651,400 to place boulders and other protective measures between the county road and Lake Superior. In places where the work was completed since August, the remedies have worked.

“The storms we had around Thanksgiving battered the shoreline with high waves, but the work we did to armor the shoreline was effective in protecting the roadway,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “In some other places nearby, unprotected areas, some erosion did occur to right up to the edge of the road.”
The road commission immediately marked those areas with barrels to alert motorists of the hazard, with crews adding materials to the roadside shoreline to mitigate the damage caused by Lake Superior’s waves.
“Currently, the DNR is mobilizing excavators and other equipment, and procuring large ballast rock to extend the armoring project beyond where we had finished last summer,” said Mike Knack, park supervisor. “The DNR will restart this project as soon as possible and continue to work until weather forces us to stop.”
County Road 107 will be closed west of South Boundary Road while work is underway.
Meanwhile, a road commission grant application seeking $12 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to realign the road away from the shoreline was unsuccessful.

A search for a long-term solution to the problem continues. View a report outlining long-term options and cost estimates.

For more information on Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park visit Michigan.gov/Porkies

Photos by Marvin Walther wiosradio.com

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Calling all Michiganologists

By TOBI VOIGT - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A documents scanner is shown.

20DEC19-Many residents and visitors to our state may not know that Michiganology is a website, a product line and the study of all things Michigan.
Each year, thousands of researchers looking for documents, photographs and maps that tell Michigan’s stories visit the Archives of Michigan in Lansing, which is part of the Department of Natural Resources’ Michigan History Center.
In addition, tens of thousands of visitors visit the archives’ online collections.
This fall, the archives launched
Michiganology.org, a new website that makes more than 10 million records available online, free of charge. These documents include death and naturalization records, which family researchers use to learn more about their family’s history.
The archives also hold records relating to the history of the DNR.

a black-and-white image shows the Roscommon area in 1924.For example, between 1927 and 2012, the department’s wildlife division conducted an 85-year photography project to capture annual images on DNR-managed land across the state from the same position.
The photographs document changes to landscapes over time and are a valuable resource to biologists and others seeking to understand changes in wildlife habitats.
These photographs now reside within the Archives of Michigan.
“Michiganology’s mission is to foster curiosity, enjoyment and inspiration rooted in Michigan's stories,” said state archivist Mark Harvey. “The new website is where visitors become ‘Michiganologists,’ people who are curious about Michigan, share its stories and understand and take pride in Michigan's unique identity.”
The new website replaces “Seeking Michigan,” the archives’ first online platform for sharing digital records.
SeekingMichigan.org went live in March 2009 with nearly 1 million records.

A photo of the Roscommon area from 2012 is shown.Over the past decade, the software used to develop the Seeking Michigan website has aged and become difficult to update. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of new digital records overloaded the system.
The archives team determined that although Seeking Michigan was groundbreaking, it was time to create a new system with more capacity that could better serve the public.
Beginning in 2012, archives staff began planning a large-scale move of its digital records onto a new platform.
Archives staffers helped Michigan become the first state to adopt the Preservica preservation system, which allows the archives to better preserve digital versions of paper records, as well as the increasing flow of records that are “born-digital.”
“With more and more documents being created on computers, and with a never-ending flow of information being shared online in social media platforms, it was critical that the archives adapt its systems and processes to ensure that these records are preserved for the future,” said Jessica Harden, state government records archivist, who spearheaded the archives’ initiatives to preserve social media accounts for public officials, including immediate past Gov. Rick Snyder.

In addition to moving its digital records into the new Preservica system, archives personnel embarked on developing the Michiganology.org website that provides broad public access to the state’s records.
 

Two people spread out architectural drawings of the state capitol.Engagement archivist Jill Arnold took the lead on the website’s development, which included creating three different methods to search for records. The variety of search options accommodate the ways people prefer to look for information. 
Arnold also worked with Michigan History Center education and engagement staff to develop articles and activities on Michigan history topics that also are featured on the website.
“While our biggest priority was making the state’s records available online, we also wanted Michiganology to become the home for Michigan history information,” Arnold said. “The website includes more than 50 short articles about interesting items in the archives, little-known stories about people, places and events, and more. We are adding more stories every week.”

The website is also the new home for the Michigan History Center’s K-12 educational resources. The “Learn” section of the website contains grade-level appropriate reading materials and activities for students, as well as teacher background information on content related to Michigan state teaching standards.
“We are just starting to develop these new resources, based on feedback we have received from teachers,” said Rachel Clark, the center’s education specialist. “We started with Michigan’s statehood era, which is a key part of third-grade learning standards. As the site develops, we will be adding more topics for all grade levels.”

A woman is pictured with a peregrine falcon chick.The new website also includes the archives’ Michiganology store.
In 2009, the archives began reproducing photographs, maps and other archival materials as high-quality prints, puzzles and magnets. Items are made by staff and volunteers in a special workshop at the Michigan History Center in Lansing. The proceeds from the sales support the educational and public programs at the Michigan History Center.
Staffers are continually monitoring and making improvements to the Michiganology website. Plans for an enhanced document viewer and more robust search capabilities are in development.
“Moving 10 million records is a major endeavor, and there have been some minor glitches,” Arnold said. “We will continue to work out bugs, listen to users and work to better serve the public as we fine-tune the website.”
Staffers also are working to add new resources to the website. They continue to streamline and upload collections indexes, which allow users to see records across collections and research more efficiently.

An ongoing partnership with FamilySearch.org is digitizing, indexing and making available online thousands of new local government records, including more than 7 million naturalization records.
“Michiganology.org is an important tool to connect Michiganders to public records, education resources and the history of the state,” Harvey said. “It is the best place to learn about the state you love. We encourage you to explore it and find your story. And we are here to help.”

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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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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