Celebrating 100 Years of Michigan State Parks
By CASEY WARNER - Michigan Department of
iconic destinations like Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the eastern Upper
Peninsula to lesser-known gems like Hayes State Park in southeastern
Michigan’s Irish Hills, the Great Lakes State offers 103 state parks to
Within these parks, there’s hunting and fishing along with campgrounds,
boat launches, swimming beaches, trails and lighthouses.
Whether it's city destinations like
Belle Isle Park and the
Outdoor Adventure Center or wilderness areas
like Craig Lake State Park, Michigan has plenty to offer.
But before 1917, our state parks numbered only one –
Mackinac Island State Park, which was established in 1895 as a gift from
the federal government. It had been the country’s second national park.
Interlochen State Park is considered Michigan’s first official state park,
having been purchased by the state Legislature in 1917.
At the beginning of the 20th century, when Michigan’s population rapidly
expanded as the automobile industry grew, cars became affordable and
people could drive from their urban homes to the country or the lakeshore.
But with few places available for the public to enjoy these scenic outdoor
settings, it became clear that a statewide system of recreational areas
open to everyone was needed.
to P. J. Hoffmaster, Michigan’s first superintendent of state parks: “The
appearance of ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Property, Keep Out’ signs has
been a growing one, all tending toward an approaching era of exclusion of
the great mass of our residents and visitors from wonderful recreational
advantages offered by the state. Through this, if nothing else, has come
the setting aside of tracts of land and water by the people for the use
and enjoyment of all.”
On May 12, 1919, the Michigan Legislature established the Michigan State
Park Commission to oversee, acquire and maintain public lands for state
To commemorate this historic milestone, the Michigan Department of Natural
Resources will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Michigan state parks
“A hundred years ago, people in Michigan were rallying to protect the
state’s most beautiful outdoor destinations,” Ron Olson, chief of the DNR
Parks and Recreation Division, said. “Fast forward through time and you’ll
find that generations of residents and visitors have fallen in love with
these treasured natural places.”
centennial celebration will encourage the public to get involved by
sharing their stories and photos, attending events taking place throughout
the year, exploring a new or favorite park, learning more about the
history of state parks and much more.
Learn more about how to get involved in
commemorating the 100-year legacy of Michigan state parks – and about the
parks and their history – at
An average of 28 million people each year visit Michigan
state parks ranging from Milliken State Park and Harbor in Detroit –
Michigan’s first urban state park providing a green oasis in the heart of
the city – to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, offering one of
the few remaining large wild areas in the Midwest.
Michigan state parks fact sheet.
“State parks play a role in helping visitors connect physically and
emotionally to all of Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor recreation
opportunities, including inland lakes, miles and miles of shoreline, lush
forests and a variety of fish and wildlife species,” Olson said.
way people can share their connection to state parks is by contributing
photos and memories to the digital
Michigan State Parks Memory Map.
“We launched the memory map to capture the special memories – camping
trips, family traditions, fish tales, Scouting excursions, day hikes and
more – that people have made over the years,” Maia Turek, a recreation
programmer with the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said.
“It’s a virtual guest book of sorts where visitors and staff – the heart
of Michigan state parks – can share stories and photos.”
A few examples of the reminiscences people have contributed:
As a child my family and I would go for walks on the trails
around the marshes. This remains such a special memory of mine; one that
has truly sculpted who I am today. (Sterling State Park, Monroe
Campsite #29 was the BEST lakefront site I’ve ever camped at!
Great view, bald eagle hanging out and it was so quiet and beautiful,
loved it sooo much. We will be returning to this site yearly to continue
making memories. (Leelanau State Park, Leelanau County)
A local suggested we hit the Lake of the Clouds overlook for
sunrise. It. Was. Stunning!!! I will never forget how magical that
morning was. (Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon
and Gogebic counties)
state park memories will be offered as part of the centennial’s
Campfire Storytelling Project, launching in
“There is something special about stories around a campfire. The stories
always seem authentic, honest and, often, heartfelt,” Turek said. “With
this in mind, we are introducing the Campfire Storytelling Project, where
seasoned storytellers will share their favorite state park stories and
Turek said that campfire attendees will also be invited to share their
anecdotes. Each event will be recorded and distilled down into a podcast
that will be posted on the centennial webpage and shared via DNR social
Under the Radar Michigan, a PBS television series featuring the people,
places and things that make Michigan great, will help share state parks’
stories with five new segments showcasing parks across the state and a
collection of state park feature segments from years past.
Check out the Under the Radar videos on the
100-year anniversary celebration includes a series of
centennial events across the state. More
events will be added throughout the year, so check back often.
State park enthusiasts can also
follow centennial activities on social media
all year long.
Michigan State Parks Centennial Geotour,
kicking off May 23, will offer an opportunity to join a worldwide
scavenger hunt and explore state parks while seeking out 100 new geocaches
created in honor of the 100-year anniversary.
Those who want to camp at state parks during the official anniversary
weekend, May 10-12, can book their favorite spots at the DNR’s updated
campground and harbor reservations website,
midnrreservations.com. All camping parties
that weekend will get a complimentary commemorative bumper sticker upon
Check out a
story and video from our Showcasing archive on destination weddings
at Upper Peninsula state parks.
addition to looking back on the history of Michigan state parks and
encouraging people to explore the outdoor recreation opportunities
available in state parks today, the centennial celebration also focuses on
the concept of giving forward – ensuring that state parks continue to
thrive into the future.
Giving forward might include
buying gear that supports Michigan state
parks, trails and waterways,
volunteering time to help with park
stewardship and other DNR efforts, or simply purchasing a
Recreation Passport and visiting a state
Get more information about Michigan state parks at
Look for a series of upcoming Showcasing the DNR stories
about the people, places and events that shaped the development of
Michigan’s state park system.
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
Regulation Change Affects Smelt Fishing
you're fishing for smelt this year, make sure you know about a legislative
change, signed at the end of 2018, that alters how anglers can target
smelt in Michigan.
The previous state statute let people use any number of hooks attached to
a single line, while fishing for smelt, alewife or other bait fish in the
Great Lakes or recognized smelt waters. Now, anglers fishing for those
species can use no more than three lines per person, with no more than six
hooks or lures on all lines. All hooks attached to an artificial bait or
“night crawler harness” are counted as one hook (note: for crappie/perch
rigs and umbrella rigs, each hook is counted as part of the total six
allowed). This means anglers may use up to six hooks on one line or spread
the six hooks out over up to three lines.
For more information on fishing regulations,
see the current Michigan Fishing Guide, available at fishing license
vendors and online at
michigan.gov/fishingguide. Questions? Contact
Christian LeSage, 517-284-5830 or
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
Don’t Forget About Mandatory Muskie Harvest
Michigan's ice-fishing season well under way, the DNR reminds anglers who
harvest a muskellunge that there is mandatory registration. The muskie
harvest limit is one fish per angler per license year.
A muskellunge harvest must be reported within 24
hours of the catch. Reports can be made online through the DNR’s Harvest
Reporting System (michigan.gov/registerfish),
toll-free by calling 844-345-FISH (3474), or in person at any DNR Customer
Service Center during normal state business hours and with advanced notice
Fisheries managers use the registration information to evaluate
muskie harvest across the state, helping them better manage those fish
The general possession season for muskellunge is
open through March 15 for all Great Lakes and inland waters and the St.
Marys River. For more information, check out the 2018 Michigan Fishing
michigan.gov/fishingguide or contact Cory
Kovacs, 906-293-5131, ext. 4071 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
Michigan State Parks: 100 Years Young and
103 state parks – from Milliken State Park in Detroit, to Porcupine
Mountains Wilderness State Park on the western end of the Upper
Peninsula – Michigan's enviable collection of outdoor recreation
destinations is a draw for more than 27 million visitors every year. But
it didn't happen by accident.
Almost 100 years ago, Michigan's state parks system was established,
moving forward a vision to acquire lands for great outdoor spaces where
the public could enjoy leisure time in some of the most beautiful woods
and water found anywhere in the country. Today, no matter where you are in
Michigan, you're never more than a half-hour away from a state park, state
forest campground or state trail system!
If it's been awhile since you've been in a Michigan state park, check
out the video above for a bird's-eye view of some of these special places.
"Over the past 100 years, we are all fortunate for the vision and
passion of those who had the foresight to secure these priceless natural
treasures for future generations," said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron
Olson. "During this centennial celebration year, we invite old friends and
first-time visitors to explore four seasons of fun. It's time to get to
know your Michigan state parks all over again."
Take advantage of this yearlong celebration by
michigan.gov/stateparks100 to learn more
about the rich history, find events near you, listen to podcasts, watch
videos, and many other ways to enjoy and support Michigan's award-winning
state parks system. For more information, contact
Maia Turek, 989-225-8573.
Celebrating a Decade of Success: DNR Announces
$100,000 Available in UP Deer Habitat Improvement Grants
the last decade, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has invested
over $630,000 of hunting license sales revenue to enhance deer habitat on
private lands in the Upper Peninsula.
That significant investment has been made through the Deer Habitat
Improvement Partnership Initiative, a competitive grant program offered
through the DNR’s Wildlife Division.
“Over 80 projects in nearly all of the U.P.’s 15 counties have benefited
thousands of acres of deer habitat,” said Bill Scullon, DNR field
operations manager in Norway and administrator for the grant initiative.
“Partners have contributed over $450,000 in matching funds, which have
contributed to expanding the impact of projects.”
For this year, the DNR has announced a March 1 deadline to apply for a
total of $100,000 in deer habitat improvement grant funding.
Groups eligible for these grants include organizations with a formal
mission to promote wildlife conservation and/or hunting, such as
sportsmen’s clubs, conservation districts, land conservancies, industrial
landowners with more than 10,000 acres, or private land affiliations where
two or more unrelated persons jointly own 400 or more acres.
"There are three primary goals applicants should strive to meet,"
Scullon said. "The projects should produce tangible deer habitat
improvements, build long-term partnerships between the DNR and outside
organizations and showcase the benefits to the public."
Scullon said the total amount of grant funding available is $100,000. The
maximum amount of individual grants is $15,000 and the minimum is $2,000.
Now in its eleventh year, the initiative is supported by the state’s Deer
Range Improvement Program, which is funded by a portion of deer hunting
Previous projects funded under the initiative include planting of red oak,
conifers and wildlife orchards; rehabilitation of historic wildlife
openings; native prairie restoration, and scarification for conifer
regeneration. Some past grant recipients have also facilitated youth
hunting opportunities on improved private lands.
Project applications must be
postmarked by Friday, March 1, and successful applicants will be notified
by Monday, March 18. The complete grant application package is available
on the DNR website at
For more information or questions
regarding eligibility, please contact Bill Scullon at 906-563-9247 or
Coming to a State Park This Winter? Come Prepared
By THERESA NEAL - Michigan Department of Natural Resources
with mild winter conditions is sometimes more challenging than preparing
for a whole lot of cold and snow.
A trio of visitors to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the eastern Upper
Peninsula were reminded of this recently when a hike on a relatively mild
winter day turned into a hazardous situation.
The incident underscores the importance of being prepared for the location
and the wintertime conditions.
Early winter rain showers had produced a sheet of ice that covered 4
inches of snow. This frosty glaze encased park features, including the
4-mile-long trail between the spectacular Upper and Lower Tahquamenon
Three young men who attempted the trail hike became stranded along the
banks of the wide, winding river. After sliding down an embankment, they
were unable to get back up.
Their call to 9-1-1 from the remote location went through. With
flashlights in hand, park rangers and emergency personnel soon began their
own trek to try to rescue the men.
Sheriff’s deputies and EMS workers were there, along with state police
troopers and the U.S. Border Patrol. All were risking their own safety to
affect the rescue of the men.
“The trail was covered in glare ice, especially the stairways,” said Eric
Johnson, a park officer who led the rescue effort. “Despite walking slowly
and carefully, we all fell multiple times. The ice, plus pitch darkness
and cold temperatures, made for a treacherous situation.”
two hours, the three men were located, stranded at the bottom of an icy
ridge. One man was showing signs of hypothermia, including confusion and
fatigue, and was struggling to move.
Emergency personnel formed a human chain to pull the men away from the
river. They used ropes to get everyone to the relative safety of the
“Fortunately, this situation has a positive ending. Park rangers are
familiar with the terrain and were able to organize the search efficiently
by asking the right questions to figure out where the men were along the
trail,” said Tahquamenon Falls State Park Manager Kevin Dennis. “Without
park rangers assisting with the search, these visitors would have been
exposed to the cold even longer, with potentially dire consequences.”
Even mildly cold environments can lead to hypothermia. Symptoms of
exposure to cold conditions develop quickly, including shivering, shallow
breathing, confusion and loss of coordination.
All these concerns can be avoided by wearing proper clothing and layering.
Use the following checklist to dress before winter
No cotton touching skin: The
key is to avoid cotton materials. Cotton will absorb sweat and water and
stay wet, causing a person to become cold. Start with a polyester blend,
or merino wool, as a first layer, which will provide heat even when wet.
Fleece or wool sweater: Follow
that first non-cotton layer up with one or two layers of insulation,
such as a fleece or wool sweater.
Wind/waterproof jacket: The
top layer should be waterproof or water resistant. A rain jacket, that
can be unzipped after warming up during outdoor activity is ideal.
Hat, gloves or mittens: A hat
and gloves are important for any winter activity. Mittens are best for
those who tend to get cold fingers. If people get warm, they can always
take their hat and gloves off for a few minutes – they may be amazed at
how quickly they cool off.
Warm footwear: Footwear should
also start with a non-cotton sock. Wool or polypropylene socks are soft,
warm and lightweight. They don’t bunch up inside boots and will keep
feet warm, even if sweating. Winter boots or waterproof hiking boots are
necessary. Ice-traction devices can be invaluable during mild winters,
which are often characterized by icy conditions.
Snow pants or gaiters: Snow
pants are great for cold weather, but some people opt to wear gaiters,
which fit over boots and cover pants up to the knee. Gaiters keep snow
and water out of boots without the bulkiness of snow pants.
Beyond dressing properly, tell someone where you are going and when you
plan to return. Leave a note, a text or a voicemail.
“Visitors to the most wintry of our Michigan state parks should be
prepared for conditions when they arrive, even if they only plan to stay a
few minutes,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “A
quick walk to a scenic vista could become a serious situation if
unexpected circumstances occur, perhaps leaving a person injured or
stranded, unprepared to deal with nature’s elements.”
Not all of Michigan’s 103 state parks have the steep terrain of the
Porcupine Mountains, or the inherent danger of the Upper Tahquamenon
Falls, but all the parks possess the potential for serious challenges for
visitors who arrive unprepared to deal with a variety of changing
Visitors should make sure vehicles are packed for an emergency during
winter adventures. Bring a shovel, blankets, a bucket of sand or cat
litter for traction, a flashlight, water and snacks. These items can help
drivers remove a vehicle from a ditch or snowbank or make the wait for
help to arrive more tolerable.
“Our park is open year-round, so people can experience the waterfalls in
the winter,” Dennis said. “We encourage visitors to do their part and come
prepared for winter conditions. This way, they can enjoy their visit, and
everyone can stay safe.”
The River Trail at Tahquamenon Falls State Park is now closed due to
unsafe conditions until further notice.
winter safety tips in this video with
DNR Conservation Officer Jennifer Hanson, who patrols in Gogebic County.
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
Enjoy A Historic Summer as a Tawas Point Lighthouse
Apply by February 1st
Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program is now accepting applications for
May 1st through
October 29th. Those selected will get to live in the
restored keeper’s quarters at the historic
Tawas Point Lighthouse, located in Tawas
Point State Park off Tawas Bay in Lake Huron.
Each participant pays a $75 per-person fee and provides roughly 35
hours of service each week in and around the historic lighthouse that
attracts visitors from all over the world.
Keeper duties include greeting visitors, giving tours, providing
information about the lighthouse and routine cleaning and maintenance.
Keepers stay in the second story of the keeper's quarters attached to the
lighthouse. Accommodations include two bedrooms sleeping up to four
adults, a modern kitchen, bath and laundry. Keepers must commit to a
two-week stay at the lighthouse.
The lighthouse keeper program looks for teams of two, three or four
adults – especially those with knowledge of lighthouse lore or Great Lakes
maritime history – but there is no requirement for such a background.
Prospective keepers should be physically able to climb up and down the 85
lighthouse stairs and have excellent customer service and public speaking
The application and additional information are
available at the
Lighthouse Keeper Program webpage. For more
application period is open through February 1st.
(Archived) Enjoy A Historic Summer as a
Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper
may have just begun, but it's the perfect time to start making summer
travel plans. Looking for uncommon travel experiences? How about a
two-week stay at the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse, located in Tawas
Point State Park off Tawas Bay in Lake Huron?
Starting today, the Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program will accept
applications for volunteer keepers for May 1 through Oct. 29. Those
selected – the program gets more than 100 applications a year – will get
to live in the restored keeper’s quarters. Each participant pays a $75
per-person fee and provides roughly 35 hours of service each week in and
around the historic lighthouse that attracts visitors from all over the
Tawas area is known as Michigan's Cape Cod," said Hillary Pine, Tawas
Point Lighthouse historian. "It's a lovely area favored by bird-watchers,
sailors, history enthusiasts and others. We make sure our volunteer
lighthouse keepers have plenty of time to enjoy Lake Huron, Tawas Bay and
Keeper duties at this nationally accredited museum include greeting
visitors, giving tours, sharing information about the lighthouse, and
routine cleaning and maintenance. Lodging is in the second story of the
keeper’s quarters attached to the lighthouse. Accommodations include two
bedrooms that sleep up to four adults, a modern kitchen, bath and laundry.
Keepers must commit to a two-week stay.
said the program looks for teams of two, three or four adults – especially
those with knowledge of lighthouse lore or Great Lakes maritime history,
but that background is not required. Prospective keepers should be able to
climb up and down the 85 lighthouse stairs and have excellent customer
service and public speaking skills.
"We give our volunteer lighthouse keepers historical information and
on-site orientation to help prepare them for their experience," Pine said.
"They take great pride in helping to promote and preserve the lighthouse …
and who wouldn't love waking up to a beautiful view of the bay every day?"
Applications will be accepted through February 1st. The application and
additional information are available at michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse. For
more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Hillary
Pine at 989-348-2537.
Stewardship Volunteers Needed in Southern
Michigan State Parks
parks in southern Michigan will host a number of volunteer stewardship
workdays in January.
Volunteers are needed to help locate and cut non-native, invasive
shrubs that threaten to crowd out native plants and disrupt balance in
high-quality ecosystems. Workdays are an enjoyable way to spend time
outdoors while restoring Michigan's ecosystems and learning about its
Workdays will take place:
Saturday, Jan. 19, 10
a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County)
Sunday, Jan. 20, 1 to
4 p.m. at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
Saturday, Jan. 26, 9
a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
Sunday, Jan. 27, 1 to
4 p.m. at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
More information about volunteer stewardship
workdays, including a calendar of opportunities, is available at
To volunteer, please register by completing and
stewardship volunteer registration form.
State Forest Roads Inventory Completed
By KATHLEEN LAVEY - Michigan Department of
two years of mapping and reviewing the condition of state forest roads
maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources across both
peninsulas, an initial inventory that provides a snapshot of the road
network is complete.
One significant result of that work is a
compilation of interactive maps showing where off-road vehicle use is
allowed on Michigan’s state forest roads, which will be published online (michigan.gov/forestroads)
and updated each spring after that.
“Forests roads are a resource to help people get out and
enjoy Michigan’s public forests,” said Deb Begalle, chief of the DNR’s
Forest Resources Division.
The inventory and road assessment were required by Public Act 288 of 2016,
which provided a time frame for inventory and classification of roads. The
law focused particularly on which roads should be open to off-road vehicle
Roads in the northern Lower Peninsula were inventoried during 2017, and
roads in the southern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula were
inventoried during 2018.
“Roads have always been important to forest management, whether you are
figuring out how to get forest products out of the woods or if you’re
trying to get out there for recreation and all of these activities that
people love,” said Scott Whitcomb, unit manager of the Pigeon River
Country State Forest in the northern Lower Peninsula, who has been
instrumental in the road inventory.
The inventory didn’t involve getting out and driving over every mile of
road – there simply wasn’t time for that. Instead, the effort to catalog
the roads used computer mapping technology to consolidate previously
mapped roads into a single, comprehensive database.
“We’ve been collecting information on roads for a very long time,”
Whitcomb said. “What we did here was flip them into a new platform
An interactive map and printable maps were provided online, which were
used to solicit public comment on the road inventory and issues connected
with opening or closing certain roads to ORVs.
Various roads or road segments were proposed to be opened or closed to ORV
use. Members of the public could drop a pin on one of the maps to mark an
area and express their concern about it. They also could comment by email
Thousands of miles of state forest roads are now open to ORV use.
A total of 84 people commented on nearly 5,600 miles of forest roads in
the Upper Peninsula. There, 5,582.06 miles (99.1 percent) of roads are
open year-round; 50.28 miles (0.89 percent) of roads are closed year-round
and 0.48 miles (0.01 percent) of roads are closed seasonally.
There were 77 comments regarding nearly 370 miles of forest roads in the
southern Lower Peninsula. In that region, 8.95 miles (2.43 percent) of
roads are open year-round; 285.92 miles (77.67 percent) of roads are
closed year-round and 73.25 miles (19.9 percent) of roads are closed
There are more than 7,500 miles of state forest roads in the northern
Lower Peninsula, with 6,308.6 miles (84 percent) of roads open to ORV use,
while 1,213.6 (16 percent) miles of road were closed by a land use order
of the DNR director. More than 2,000 members of the public weighed in on
“We had hundreds of pin drops with people telling us everything from,
‘This is a great idea, I can’t wait’ to ‘You guys are crazy, this is going
to cause problems,’” Whitcomb said.
DNR road evaluations considered user conflicts, the condition of the road
and a review of current land use orders. An example is the Pigeon River
Country State Forest. It’s home to Michigan’s elk herd and focuses on
“There’s a lot of public land where ORVs are the best use,” Whitcomb said.
“The Pigeon River management plan differs from other state forests in that
it emphasizes quiet recreation and scenic values.”
A few other northern Lower Peninsula areas that are focused on quiet
recreation also are closed to ORVs. Those include Jordan Valley, the Mason
and Deward tracts and the Sand Lakes quiet area.
The maps are a work in progress and will be updated annually as DNR staff
in the field monitor road conditions or find mapping errors. There are
some proposed changes currently under consideration for the northern Lower
Peninsula, with a decision pending by the DNR director and Michigan
Natural Resources Commission.
Roads that are currently open could be closed to ORVs or other vehicles in
the future if erosion threatens the forest or fish habitat in nearby
waters, for example.
“Getting our forest roads into an inventory system on the map gives us a
baseline that we can begin working with to manage the forest better,”
Comments from the public will be evaluated each year. Several criteria
will be used to make evaluations, and recommendations will be reviewed by
DNR staff members and the public before the DNR director makes decisions.
The goal is to have forest roads that are safe and provide access to
various users, while ensuring that forests and waterways aren’t negatively
Take a look at the road maps and learn more about
Public Act 288 at
Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at michigan.gov/dnrstories. To
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DNR Reflections on the Year That Was 2018
02JAN18-For the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 2018 has been
busy. The DNR, with the help of many partners, has made great strides in
its ongoing efforts to take care of the state’s natural and cultural
resources and provide outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities.
Here are a few highlights of how the DNR spent 2018.
Providing quality outdoor recreation
DNR continued its work to ensure excellent opportunities for hunting and
fishing, both of which contribute billions of dollars to the state’s
economy each year.
Fourteen state-record fish have been caught in Michigan in the last 10
years, pointing to the abundance and health of our fish populations.
The DNR stocks more than 25 million fish each year, in more than 1,000
locations across both peninsulas. Forty percent of all recreational
fishing in Michigan depends on stocked fish.
In 2018, the DNR expanded the recently created Fishing Tournament
Information System – a statewide, online registration and reporting tool
that makes it easier for tournament managers to meet the requirement of
having all bass fishing tournaments registered – to include all bass and
walleye tournaments. To date, the system has received more than 2,000 bass
tournament registrations and results reports.
The DNR is continually improving habitat on the 4.5 million acres of
public hunting land it manages. Hunters can explore seven managed
waterfowl areas, 19 grouse enhanced management sites (known as GEMS) that
allow walk-in hunting, and more than 180 state game and wildlife areas.
These locations also offer abundant wildlife watching opportunities.
far this year, hunters have contributed almost $200,000 to wildlife
management by purchasing
Pure Michigan Hunt applications that
give them a shot at a prize package valued at over $4,000, as well as
licenses for elk, bear, spring and fall turkey and antlerless deer, and
first pick at a managed waterfowl area. The application period ends at
midnight December 31st.
Michigan’s 103 state parks continue to provide the scenic spaces, natural
resources and access to outdoor recreation opportunities that attract tens
of millions of people every year.
With 12,500-plus miles of state-designated trails and pathways – one of
the largest, interconnected trail systems in the country – Michigan is
known as The Trails State. This trails system offers plenty of social,
economic and health benefits, catering to a variety of users, including
bicyclists, hikers, ORV riders, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers,
horseback riders, paddlers and others.
The system also includes the
Iron Belle Trail, Michigan’s signature hiking
and biking trail extending more than 2,000 miles from the far western tip
of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit.
was renewed interest sparked in 2018 in the Iron Belle Trail Fund
Campaign, marked by an event in Ann Arbor where more than $10.5 million in
private donations was announced.
“Quality outdoor recreation resources and opportunities mean a lot to the
people who use and value them, and to the communities they serve,” DNR
Director Keith Creagh said. “The Iron Belle Trail offers so many beautiful
places where people make memories, improve their health, and recharge
their energy. The state and our many partners are on an ambitious timeline
to get the remainder of these connected miles in place.”
To date, the DNR and partners have built and engineered more than 100
miles of new trail to complete completed the Iron Belle Trail’s 1,422
miles of existing hiking and biking trails, with just over 600 remaining
to be connected.
In October 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced a $100
million investment of parks and trails in Southeast Michigan, including
segments of the Iron Belle Trail.
With the creation of a new State Water Trails
program, the DNR announced this month that eight waterways, totaling
540-plus miles flowing through more than a dozen counties, have been
selected as the
first state-designated water trails in
Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said that water trails are an
increasing trend in Michigan and nationally, as interest in paddle sports
and other water-based recreation continues to grow.
Water trails feature well-developed access points, often are near
significant historical, environmental or cultural points of interest and
often have nearby amenities like restaurants, hotels and campgrounds.
“These state-designated water trails will encourage close-to-home outdoor
recreation and healthy lifestyles while boosting local economies, giving
even more reason to call Michigan The Trails State,” said Paul Yauk, the
DNR’s state trails coordinator.
The DNR’s staffed shooting ranges, located in southern Michigan state
parks and game areas, made improvements to accommodate a growing number of
shooting sports enthusiasts. Updates this year included expanding parking,
adding new handgun shooting stations and installing a well to provide
potable water, with construction of new accessible parking and walkways
planned at three ranges in 2019.
Looking to get outdoors in 2019? Check out
Taking care of Michigan’s woods, waters and
“Good Neighbor Authority” allows state natural resource agencies to assist
the U.S. Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Land Management on
timber and watershed restoration projects across the country.
In 2018, the DNR increased its Good Neighbor Authority efforts from the
previous year, preparing 2,400 acres for timber sale and producing 38,500
cords of wood from the four national forests in Michigan – the Huron and
Manistee national forests in the Lower Peninsula and the Ottawa and
Hiawatha in the Upper Peninsula.
This state/federal partnership will grow to more than 7,500 acres in 2019.
In 2018, oversight of the state’s
Registered Forester program
transferred to the DNR from the Michigan Department of Licensing and
Regulatory Affairs. The move was part of a restructuring process for this
voluntary program that encourages higher standards for Michigan’s
Changes to the program include an up-to-date online database
and a new complaint review process.
“The new program is the ideal source for landowners to find highly
qualified foresters to help them manage their forest land,” said Deb
Begalle, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.
Nearly two-thirds of Michigan’s 20 million acres of forest are privately
owned; the state manages an estimated 4 million acres of public forest.
DNR also manages 360,000 acres of state game areas. At game areas
throughout Michigan, DNR staffers have been harvesting timber to create
early successional forest habitat.
The selective cutting of mature pine and aspen stands encourages the
growth of young forests, which provide vital habitat for ruffed grouse,
American woodcock, deer, elk and golden-winged warblers.
“This important work may look destructive while in progress, but the
result is outstanding habitat for many game and non-game wildlife
species,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason.
Late in 2018, in partnership with Pheasants
Forever and the Hal and Jean Glassen Foundation, the DNR launched its new
Adopt-A-Game-Area program, which
encourages individuals and organizations to sponsor grassland habitat
projects on state-managed lands they use and value.
“Grasslands give important benefits to both wildlife and people. In
addition to providing habitat and food resources for many wildlife
species, grasslands also improve water and air quality,” said Al Stewart,
DNR upland game bird specialist.
Stewart said grassland pollinators, like bees and monarch butterflies,
help to generate crops that keep the country fed. Throughout Michigan,
many grasslands are being converted to agriculture and development.
Grasslands now are one of the rarest habitat types in the world.
Expanded support of this program, through sponsorships, will provide
valuable nesting, brood-rearing, foraging and winter habitat for a wide
range of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, rabbits,
songbirds and pollinators.
year, the DNR has been intensely focused on mitigating impacts from
chronic wasting disease on Michigan’s white-tailed deer population. This
fatal disease has been found in free-ranging deer in Clinton, Dickinson,
Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, and Montcalm counties.
Following public engagement meetings and surveys, hunting regulations were
changed for the 2018 deer hunting seasons to address concerns of CWD. The
DNR also provided additional staffed deer check locations as well as drop
boxes for hunters to submit their harvested deer for testing. More than
30,000 deer were checked and tested this year.
The coming year will see continued efforts to
maintain the health of Michigan’s deer herd. For the latest information
and updates on chronic wasting disease, visit
The DNR also keeps a close eye on the health of Michigan’s
fish, working continuously with Michigan State University’s Aquatic Animal
Health Lab to be at forefront of disease identification, but also
regularly analyzing groups of wild fish to test for diseases and
performing fish health inspections at state hatcheries and on
In 2018, the DNR’s
Office of the Great Lakes completed
restoration of historical environmental impacts on the Menominee River,
started the Saginaw Bay Fish Reef restoration project and made strides in
implementing goals established in the Michigan Water Strategy.
The OGL staff also worked in communities to protect coastal resources,
helped establish an alliance of Great Lakes island communities and
facilitated the development of shared harbor visions in waterfront
As it has each year since its introduction in 2014, the
Invasive Species Grant Program – implemented
by the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development,
Environmental Quality and Natural Resources – provided roughly $3.6
million in 2018 for projects designed to prevent, detect, eradicate and
control invasive pests on the land and in the water.
Because of this grant program, more than 285,000 acres of land and water
have been surveyed for invasive species; more than 18,000 acres have been
treated for invasive terrestrial and aquatic plants; and millions of
people have been reached with educational information about invasive
“It’s clear that Michigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program is
accomplishing many of the goals set for the program at the very start,”
said Creagh. “The fight to stop, contain and eradicate invasive species
from Michigan’s woods and water is critical to the long-term protection of
these valuable natural resources, and this grant program is helping in
Protecting the state’s natural resources and
in every county of the state,
Michigan conservation officers are
first responders who provide lifesaving operations in the communities they
serve. They are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide
natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect
citizens by enforcing Michigan’s laws and regulations.
“A conservation officer has chosen to not only protect our people and
local communities as first responders – they have devoted their career to
being front-line defenders of our natural resources,” said DNR Law
Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.
As community first responders, several conservation officers were involved
in lifesaving actions during 2018, including saving a woman from drowning,
rescuing people involved in snowmobile and kayak accidents and those
stranded in Lake Huron and on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake
Superior. As a result, eight conservation officers received the Michigan
DNR Lifesaving Award.
The DNR Conservation Officer Academy graduated 24 new conservation
officers in 2018. The new officers were selected from nearly 500
applicants to be a part of Recruit School No. 9 – the DNR’s 23-week
training academy based in Lansing.
“Our division selects the most highly qualified candidates to receive
additional training that no other law enforcement agency in the state
offers,” Hagler said. “Our officers are molded into quality people who are
embedded within the communities they serve.”
As Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency, the DNR Law
Enforcement Division continues to expand its abilities to protect our
natural resources. The 252 officers budgeted for the 2019 fiscal year is
an all-time high.
Connecting people with the outdoors
Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year,
over 1,000 educators have received the DNR’s
free wildlife curricula for their
classrooms, information that helps give students an understanding of
Michigan’s wildlife and their habitats. Kindergarten through high school
educators can get these resources for use in the second half of the school
year. Featured species include waterfowl, black bears and elk.
The DNR recently – after two years of mapping and reviewing the condition
of the state forest roads it maintains across both peninsulas – completed
an initial inventory used to create interactive maps showing where ORV use
is allowed on these roads. The maps will be available online at
michigan.gov/forestroads and updated
Look for an early 2019 “Showcasing the DNR” story detailing the efforts to
map state forest roads, a resource to help people get out and enjoy
Michigan’s public forests.
DNR’s work in providing GIS products and services gained national
recognition at the annual Esri User Conference, when the department earned
a Special Achievement in GIS Award for its innovative application of
mapping, data analytics and thought leadership.
“Within the past 20 years, the DNR has implemented an enterprise GIS
system to support the growing needs and challenges of caring for
Michigan’s natural resources and connecting the public to those
resources,” said Dave Forstat, DNR GIS manager and chief data steward.
“As web GIS has become more prevalent, we’ve leveraged the benefits of
increased communication and data accuracy to provide customers with the
best possible data on trails, water, minerals, trees, wildlife, fish and
This includes online tools – like the Open
Data Portal, interactive maps, story
maps and customized apps – aimed at connecting outdoor enthusiasts and
natural resources professionals with the information they need.
This is just a brief glimpse of a year in the life of the DNR. More
information about the department’s broad range of work to ensure healthy
natural resources and outdoor recreation is available on the DNR website,
redesigned in 2018 to make it easier to use, at
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
DNR Urges Snowmobilers to Ditch Loud Exhaust Pipes and Cans
Michigan Department of Natural Resources is urging snowmobilers not to use
loud exhaust pipes or cans and is reminding riders that laws against loud
machine violations will be enforced strictly.
“We are continuing to get numerous complaints from the public about loud
sleds,” said Ron Yesney, Upper Peninsula trails coordinator for the DNR’s
Parks and Recreation Division in Marquette. “We’re looking to riders to
help us curb this ongoing problem.”
Several of these complaints have led to private property owners revoking
their permission to route snowmobile trails across their land.
“This diminishes our trail connectivity and decreases riding
opportunities for everyone,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public
information officer. “In areas without trails, loud sleds are still a
source of resident complaints.”
Under Michigan law, the muffler on a snowmobile must be in good working
order and, when in constant operation, noise emission cannot exceed 88
decibels at 13.1 feet, as measured using the 2004 Society of Automotive
Engineers standard J2567 for a stationary snowmobile manufactured after
July 1, 1980.
The penalty for violating sound levels for snowmobiles is a civil
infraction, carrying fines of over $200. Snowmobiles may be impounded.
“Enforcement efforts are necessary, but our long-term goal is to gain
voluntary compliance from riders,” Yesney said. “Mountain, trail and race
cans are strongly discouraged. Loud sleds give snowmobilers a bad name and
give those opposed to motorized sports a voice.”
conservation officers are seeing increased use of “trail can” exhausts.
“These are cans that are designed to pass a decibel test, but they are
still very loud and undermine our efforts to secure trail easements and
provide opportunities for snowmobilers to ride,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, a
district law supervisor in Marquette. “Most trail cans will pass a decibel
test if new, but may fail after a few thousand miles.”
Whether riding on or off trails, the DNR urges snowmobilers and dealers to
use stock or original equipment manufacturer exhausts.
“Many thousands of hours of volunteer effort go into developing and
maintaining Michigan’s snowmobile program,” Yesney said. “It only takes
one sled with a loud exhaust to ruin riding opportunities for many.”
Hand in hand with complaints about loud sled violations are private
property trespass complaints. The DNR suggests off-trail riders “know
before they go” making sure the property they will be riding on is public.
“Riders who decide to trespass compromise the goodwill landowners have
extended to the DNR, snowmobilers and trail groups and sponsors,” Yesney
said. “Trespassing is another serious problem that oftentimes leads to
landowner permissions being pulled and our being forced to shut down trail
segments as a result.”
A committee was formed recently to develop information indicating exactly
where it is legal to ride off-trail. The goal is to eventually have
off-trail riding opportunities signed and mapped. Until these developments
occur, it is crucial that snowmobilers ensure they are off-trail riding
only on public lands.
“Whether snowmobiling on trails or off, we all need to work together for
the greater good to prevent trespassing and loud sled violations from
occurring,” Yesney said. “Taking loud cans or pipes off your sled and
staying on the trail helps everyone.”
For more information on snowmobiling in Michigan,
including current laws and regulations, go to