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Michigan Releases Draft Plan to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality

14JUN17-LANSING – State leaders today shared Michigan’s draft Domestic Action Plan for Lake Erie—a targeted approach for improving water quality and helping to prevent algal blooms, making it safer for people and aquatic life.
The draft plan will be available for public review and comment through Friday, July 14, at www.michigan.gov/deqgreatlakes. Comments can be emailed to DEQ-LakeErieDAP@michigan.gov or mailed to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Water Resources Division, Attn: Lake Erie DAP, P.O. Box 30458, Lansing, MI 48909.
A public information meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 28, 6:30-9:00 p.m., in the Baer Auditorium (Room 110) in Jones Hall on the campus of Adrian College, located at 112 S. Charles St., Adrian, MI 49221. 

Crafted by the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources, the plan aims to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie to help prevent persistent, intense algal blooms in the western part of Lake Erie, including those that are unsafe for people, and address low dissolved oxygen in the central basin of Lake Erie.  
Michigan’s plan sets the roadmap for how the state will do its part to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025.

According to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Clover Adams, Michigan’s plan outlines current efforts and articulates concrete actions the state will take to improve Lake Erie.
“Although state agencies and other stakeholders are conducting more and better research on the Western Lake Erie Basin and improving best practices for agriculture and wastewater treatment, our Domestic Action Plan lays out additional key strategies for wetland restoration, invasive species research, tightened permit requirements for sewage treatment facilities, and customized farm operations,” said Clover Adams.
Algae are natural components of marine and freshwater systems, and not all algae are harmful, but too much algae, like in Lake Erie’s western basin, is an indication of an imbalance in the ecosystem. There are many reasons why the Western Lake Erie Basin is susceptible to algal blooms.

“From invasive species to heavy rainfall run-off to increasing temperatures, there are many ecological challenges we are working to understand,” said C. Heidi Grether, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “Fortunately, with strong support from Gov. Snyder and actions such as declaring Lake Erie an impaired water, Michigan is poised to find solutions.”
Recently, Michigan joined Ohio and Ontario in the signing of the Western Lake Erie Basin Collaborative Agreement and the Lake Erie Basin was included as a priority action area in Michigan’s Water Strategy
Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, encouraged cooperative action across local, state and national governments to benefit Lake Erie.
 

“Lake Erie is one of Michigan’s defining natural resources,” Creagh said. “If we want to ensure that the lake continues to be a source of drinking water and a great place for recreation for the region and the state, it is imperative that we work together to provide solutions.”

Michigan’s Domestic Action Plan is one of several plans from surrounding states, the province of Ontario, and the U.S. and Canadian federal governments. The final version, along with plans from other Lake Erie Basin states (Indiana, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania), will be integrated into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s comprehensive plan, scheduled for release in February 2018.

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Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative Annual Report for 2016

14JUN17-Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative coalition partners recently compiled a 2016 annual report, now available at michiganpheasantsforever.org/habitat.

ring-necked pheasantHighlights of the report, which details the initiative’s accomplishments in 2016, include:

bullet Sixteen pheasant cooperatives actively are working, with 14 more cooperatives
currently in development.
 
bullet On state game areas, 2,053 acres of grasslands were enhanced, 308 acres of
grasslands were established, 310 acres of food plots were planted and 380 wetland
acres were enhanced.
 
bullet Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative coalition partners helped to enhance
5,567 acres of grasslands, establish 621 acres of grassland, plant 14,326 acres
of food plots, enhance 233 wetland acres and restore 1,691 wetland acres.
 
bullet The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provided technical and financial
assistance to 31 landowners, with 1,138 acres of improved habitat. MPRI Farm Bill
biologists provided technical and financial assistance to 566 landowners, with 5,639
acres of improved habitat.
 
bullet There are currently 173 properties and 15,841 acres enrolled in the
Hunting Access Program, which offers public hunting opportunities in urban
and agricultural areas. Five of these properties, totaling 529 acres, were added in 2016.
 
bullet One hundred and twenty acres of potential pheasant habitat have been purchased as part of Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve in Jackson County, and 300 acres of potential pheasant habitat were acquired in northwestern Monroe County.
 
bullet Over $400,000 was granted to MPRI projects through the Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, and more than 1,451 grassland acres were enhanced.
 
bullet The DNR received a $500,000 Competitive State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study grassland management techniques. Funds will be used over the next three years to monitor the impact of prescribed fire and disking on plant and pollinating insect diversity in established grasslands.
 
bullet The MPRI coalition offered 121 education and recruitment events, with nearly 7,500 participants, in 2016.  

“The MPRI coalition continues to make great strides in restoring habitat, providing access and introducing young people to outdoor skills,” said Pheasants Forever regional coordinator Bill VanderZouwen. “We are busy setting goals for the second five years of the MPRI Pheasant Plan. We all need to be advocating for conservation provisions in the next Farm Bill that affect more farmland wildlife habitat in Michigan than all other programs combined.”
The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is a conservation initiative to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat, populations, and hunting opportunities on private and public lands via pheasant cooperatives. The initiative works by acquiring state, federal and other partner resources to assist landowners in the cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat on their properties and by improving habitat on selected state game areas, recreation areas or other public lands.

For more information about the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, and about pheasant hunting, visit www.michigan.gov/pheasant.

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DNR Moose Survey Results Estimate a Population Increase

13JUN17-Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists estimate the number of moose in the western Upper Peninsula core population area at 378 animals, up from 285 in 2015.

This map shows the high- and low-density core moose population areas in the western Upper Peninsula.“Our survey findings this year are encouraging because a possible population decline detected in 2015 was transitory,” said Dean Beyer, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife research biologist who organizes the sampling and generates the estimate for the biannual survey effort.
The results were reported to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission Thursday at a meeting in Houghton. A moose hunt in Michigan is not currently being considered.
Moose are found in Michigan at Isle Royale National Park and in two population areas on the mainland of the Upper Peninsula.
The western U.P. moose range covers about 1,400 square miles in parts of Marquette, Baraga, and Iron counties. The population there is the result of moose reintroduction efforts in 1985 and 1987.
An eastern U.P. moose population, spread across portions of Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce and Chippewa counties, is estimated to contain fewer than 100 moose ranging across a 1,200-square-mile area. This population was not surveyed by the DNR.
Surveys of moose in the western U.P. are conducted every two years from fixed wing aircraft. Roughly 30 plots are surveyed within the high-density core population area and about 15 more randomly selected plots surrounding the core in a low-density zone.

However, winter weather conditions prevented some survey flights this year, which did not allow researchers to complete the winter 2016-17 moose survey of some low density transects.
“This will not allow us to estimate moose abundance throughout the entirety of the western U.P. moose range,” Beyer said. “However, we were able to generate an estimate for the core area. In the past, this core zone has supported 80 to 90 percent of the population.”A graph depicts the recent moose survey population results over the past several years.
Prior to this year, the most recent moose survey was conducted in January 2015 to estimate moose abundance in the western Upper Peninsula.
At that time, DNR researchers observed 187 moose during the survey and estimated a population of 323 animals using a sight-ability correction model. The 2015 estimate declined about 28 percent from the estimate of 451 moose in 2013.
“Statistically speaking, the confidence limits of the 2013 and 2015 estimates overlapped, so we could not say with statistical confidence that the population decreased,” Beyer said. “However, for the first time, we did observe a decline in the proportion of calves in the population, suggesting a population decline may have occurred.”
The percentage of calves in the moose population was 22 percent in 2013, 17 percent in 2015 and 19 percent this year.
“We will continue to monitor the percentage of calves in the population as this is an important indicator of the viability of the moose population over the long-term,” Beyer said.
Researchers think the survey this year, if completed, would have yielded a total western U.P. population estimate of between 420 and 470 animals.
Given the 2015 moose potential decline and the Moose Hunting Advisory Council’s recommendation to only allow hunting if a growth rate of greater than 3 percent is maintained, the DNR did not recommend implementing a moose harvest in 2015.

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Michigan Iron Industry Museum Hosts Antique Car Show June 18th

close-up of side of antique Sands Township Fire Dept. truck13JUN17-Upper Peninsula iron that helped put the world on wheels is coming back to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum. Commemorating a 120-year-old link between Michigan’s iron and the automotive industry, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee will host the 28th annual “Iron, Steel and the Automobile” celebration Sunday, June 18, from noon to 4 p.m. The event will feature more than 50 pre-1970 automobiles and light trucks.
Museum historian Barry James noted that, although the auto industry dates back to 1896, when the Duryea brothers built and sold their first run of 13 motor wagons in Massachusetts, "It was Michigan men like R. E. Olds and Henry Ford who improved the invention in the early 20th century. They used steel manufactured from Upper Peninsula iron ore and mass-produced cars. The automobile went from being a symbol of wealth to a middle-class necessity."
Individuals and community partners from across the Upper Peninsula will come together at "Iron, Steel and the Automobile." Owners and their vehicles include John West of Marquette with a 1911 Model T, Tammy and Larry Biciogo of Crystal Falls with a 1919 Dodge Brother’s Model 30, Darrell Rouna of Ishpeming with a 1932 International Harvester Model A tow truck and Allen Wall of Kingsford with a 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. The Michigamme Museum will offer its 1928 Ford Model AA, and the Marquette Township Fire Department will show off its 1937 Studebaker fire trucks. All vehicles at the exhibit are in original or restored-to-original condition.

At 1:30 p.m., there will be a special presentation by Robert Kreipke in the museum auditorium. The Ford Motor Company corporate historian will examine the many connections between Ford and the Upper Peninsula, which was a source for the company’s raw materials. Seating is limited.
Music rounds out the day, with the Keweenaw Bluffs band performing popular music of the Swing Era, as well as music that stirred the youth of the 1950s and early 1960s. Senors Food Truck, coupled with Willy Nilly's Good and Chilly frozen treats, will offer a variety of summer fare to eat for the afternoon.
Public admission to “Iron, Steel and the Automobile” is a suggested donation of $3 per vehicle; admission to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum is free, although donations are appreciated.
The Michigan Iron Industry Museum is a nationally accredited museum located at 73 Forge Road in Negaunee, eight miles west of Marquette; enter off of U.S. 41. For more information, call 906-475-7857 or visit www.michigan.gov/ironindustrymuseum.  

The Michigan History Center is part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its museum and archival programs foster curiosity, enjoyment, and inspiration rooted in Michigan’s stories. It includes the Michigan History Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan.  Learn more at www.michigan.gov/michiganhistory.

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DNR Accessibility Advisory Council Meets at Motz County Park

12JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that the Accessibility Advisory Council will hold its next regular meeting Tuesday, June 20, at Motz County Park, 4630 N. DeWitt Road, St. Johns, Michigan. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m.
The council will receive an update from Kristin Phillips, DNR Marketing and Outreach Division chief, regarding the department’s marketing efforts, campaigns and initiatives. The council’s subcommittee on infrastructure and natural resource programs will present information regarding department grant application project proposals. DNR Parks and Recreation Division staff also will give the council an update on the revised camping policy for accessible campsites.

The council also will receive updates from the DNR's sponsor and the accessibility team chair, and conduct regular business regarding vacancies and future meetings.
The June 20 meeting agenda is available on the council’s web page.
The Accessibility Advisory Council was created by the DNR in 2007. The council’s purpose is to make recommendations to the department director and staff regarding accessibility, as well as provide input, advice and guidance on the development, management and planning associated with providing accessible recreational opportunities to all users statewide.
The meeting location is barrier-free and there will be an interpreter present. Those needing additional accommodations to fully participate in this meeting, seeking information about this meeting, or wishing to address the council on accessibility issues, should contact the DNR Finance and Operations Division at 517-284-5946 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired) at least seven business days before the meeting.

Important information on meeting location in case of inclement weather:

If the weather is not conducive to having the meeting in an outdoor setting, the meeting will be moved to the DNR Lansing Customer Service Center, 4166 Legacy Parkway, in Lansing. A decision regarding the location of the meeting will be posted on the Accessibility Advisory Council’s webpage Friday, June 16, at www.michigan.gov/dnr, under Commissions, Boards and Committees.

Those wishing to present information to the council must submit their materials in an accessible and descriptive format to taylory1@michigan.gov no later than seven business days prior to the meeting.

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Michigan Boating Week (June 10-16) Highlights "Freshwater" State

Michigan Boating Week infographics12JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites residents and visitors to celebrate the state's unparalleled boating opportunities and one of the best freshwater destinations in the world during Michigan Boating Week June 10th - 16th.

"Water is one of Michigan's greatest natural resources," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "This weeklong campaign encourages residents and visitors to celebrate Michigan's vast freshwater resources and get out and explore all of the on-the-water opportunities the Great Lakes State affords. Michigan is truly a boater's paradise."
Michigan is home to an estimated 4 million boating enthusiasts and approximately 1 million registered boats and 300,000 non-registered canoes and kayaks. In addition, recreational boating has an annual $7.4 billion impact and the boating industry provides nearly 59,000 jobs across the state.

“Michigan Boating Week is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of the boating industry to our state’s economy as well as its importance to the quality of life," said Nicki Polan, executive director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association. “Michigan's access to freshwater resources helps build lakeside communities and boating-related industries such as tourism, commercial fishing and boat manufacturing and sales.”

The weeklong celebration also includes a handful of events taking place in harbors across the state and live radio broadcasts that will feature DNR staff and other industry professionals.

Since residents and visitors are never more than 6 miles from a body of water or 85 miles from a Great Lake, there are plenty of reasons to take pride in Michigan's vast freshwater resources. The following freshwater facts help define why Michigan is the Great Lakes State:

3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline.

11,000-plus inland lakes.

36,350 miles of rivers and streams.

1,300 boat launches and 82 public harbors administered by state, county and local units of government.

More lighthouses than any other state.

Access to 154 species of fish.

A portion of revenue collected from Michigan’s gas tax and watercraft registrations helps fund state facilities, including 19 harbors and approximately 1,000 boating access sites. Another portion of that revenue funds grants to local units of government that oversee 63 harbors and roughly 200 boating access sites. These resources help fund waterways projects and the ongoing maintenance at public recreational boating facilities, benefiting local and regional economies and contributing to statewide tourism.

Visit www.michigan.gov/boating to learn more about Michigan boating, Michigan Boating Week, water safety and much more. In addition, the Michigan Harbors Guide is available for download and is designed to offer essential boating information and a list of locations and amenities offered at state harbors.

For more information, contact Maia Turek, DNR resource development specialist, at turekm@michigan.gov or 989-225-8573 or Nicki Polan at 734-261-0123, ext. 4 or npolan@mbia.org.

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Comment Period on ORV Rules on Forest Roads in N. Lower Michigan

12JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites public input on a proposal to open thousands of miles of state forest roads to off-road vehicles in the northern Lower Peninsula. The expanded access takes effect January 2018, as required by Public Act 288 of 2016.
The department has devoted the past several months to thoroughly mapping the region’s state forest roads. State forest roads, managed by the DNR, provide access for activities such as habitat improvement, timber management, and fire control, as well as public access for hunting, fishing, hiking and outdoor recreation. Historically, these roads have been closed to ORV use unless designated as part of an ORV route.
PA 288 encourages more people to enjoy Michigan’s public lands by enhancing ORV opportunities in the northern Lower Peninsula. Beginning in 2018, all state forest roads in the region will be open to ORV use unless designated closed by the DNR. Reasons for closures include ensuring user safety, preventing user conflicts and protecting environmentally sensitive areas.

The public is welcome to attend any of the following meetings to review the proposed changes, ask questions and provide input.

bullet Monday, June 19, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Quality Inn, 2980 Cook Road, West Branch
 
bullet Tuesday, June 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center, 6087 M-115, Cadillac
 
bullet Wednesday, June 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Jay’s Sporting Goods, 1151 S. Otsego Ave., Gaylord

Comments also can be made by viewing the online map at www.michigan.gov/forestroads. Instructions are available on the website.

Alternatively, comments will be accepted via email to DNR-RoadInventoryProject@michigan.gov or by mail to DNR Roads Inventory Project, P.O. Box 456, Vanderbilt, MI 49795. The comment period will close July 15, 2017.

“Michigan offers countless opportunities for outdoor adventures through the availability and diversity of its public lands,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “Opening more forest roads to ORV enthusiasts lets people take full advantage of these recreational experiences. With the public’s input, we will determine which areas lend themselves to this type of use and which ones need protection. The result will be a well-thought out, balanced approach that protects our resources while encouraging use.”

For more information about the state forest road inventory process, visit www.michigan.gov/forestroads. For more information about trails in Michigan and to sign up for trail email updates, visit www.michigan.gov/dnrtrails.

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DNR Conservation Officer Patrick Hartsig Honored for U.P. Ice Rescue

Lifesaving Award earned for finding lost boy in hazardous conditions

CO Hartsig award12JUN17-A Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer was honored Thursday for rescuing a boy who earlier this year was lost on dangerous Lake Michigan ice in the Upper Peninsula.
Conservation Officer Patrick Hartsig received the DNR’s Lifesaving Award during the regular meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Houghton.
On Feb. 5, after completing a snowmobile patrol in an adjacent county, Hartsig responded to a Delta County dispatch call regarding a 10-year-old boy with special needs who had run away from his family in the Gladstone area. The boy was last seen crossing the ice on Little Bay de Noc.
Because Hartsig regularly patrols Delta County, he had accurate, up-to-date knowledge of areas on the bay that had potentially treacherous ice. Hartsig launched his snowmobile and soon found the boy, who was wandering about one mile from shore. The child had no shoes, hat or gloves despite temperatures in the teens and 25-30 mph winds. 
Hartsig, a first aid instructor and former paramedic, removed the boy’s socks and warmed his feet. He then put his own boots, gloves and snowmobile helmet on the child before racing across the ice to the Michigan State Police post in Gladstone, where the boy’s mother, a county sheriff’s deputy and an ambulance were waiting.

“This was a dangerous situation that could have ended tragically,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, who presented Hartsig with the award. “Every minute was critical. But thanks to Conservation Officer Hartsig’s fast response, first-rate training and knowledge of his patrol area, the child was reunited with his family. DNR conservation officers have protected Michigan’s citizens and resources for 130 years. It’s officers like Pat Hartsig who maintain our high standards. The dedication and professionalism he displayed make him most deserving of this award.”
Hartsig has been with the DNR for two years, serving Delta County and the surrounding area the entire time. He is a native of Romeo in Macomb County.

Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace offers with authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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Changes Made to Lake Trout Regulations on Lakes Huron and Michigan

12JUN17-At its meeting Thursday in Houghton, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved fishing regulation changes regarding lake trout and splake in lakes Michigan and Huron and Type F drowned river mouth lakes. These regulations went into effect today, June 9th.
 

The regulation changes will result in expanded angling opportunities, including:

bulletIn the Lake Michigan lake trout management units of MM 1 through MM 4, lake trout and splake will be managed under a new minimum size limit of 15 inches (the maximum size limit regulation has been removed).
bulletIn the Lake Michigan lake trout management units of MM 6 through MM 8, the lake trout and splake possession season has been changed to open all year.
bulletIn the Lake Huron lake trout management units of MH 3 through MH 6, the lake trout and splake possession season has been changed to open all year.
bulletIn Type F drowned river mouth lakes, the lake trout and splake possession season has been changed to open all year.

It should be noted that the commission did not adopt proposed regulations adjustments for lake trout in the Lake Huron management units of MH 1 through MH 2.

The online version of the 2016-2017 Michigan Fishing Guide (available at michigan.gov/dnrdigests) will be updated to reflect these changes. Information also will be updated on the DNR’s fishing regulations hotline at 888-367-7060.

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DNR’s Eastern UP Citizens’ Advisory Council to Meet in Alger County

12JUN17-The Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council is scheduled to discuss several interesting topics when the panel meets Wednesday, June 14 in Munising.
New business items will include North Country Trail benefits from Iron Belle Trail grants, Michigan State Parks on the Air, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer regulation recommendations for 2017-19 and state park updates.Members of the Eastern U.P. Citizens' Advisory Council listen to a speaker at a recent meeting.

“If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend a council meeting, this is a great time to do so,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “Find out what’s happening in Alger County and elsewhere in the eastern Upper Peninsula.”
The Eastern U.P. Citizens’ Advisory Council and its western U.P. counterpart meet alternating months throughout the year.
This month’s session in Alger County will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. EDT June 14 in the Central Community Center gymnasium, located at 413 Maple Street in Munising.
During the meeting, DNR staffers will offer division reports. Additional topics to be considered include updates from the Information and Outreach Subcommittee, the U.P. Wildlife Habitat Workgroup, information on trails and the status of chronic wasting disease in the region.

The public can participate in the session by offering comments to the discussion during two specified periods at the meeting (for instructions on comment procedures, see www.michigan.gov/upcac).
The DNR’s eastern and western Upper Peninsula citizens’ advisory councils are designed to provide local input to advise the DNR on regional programs and policies, identify areas in which the department can be more effective and responsive and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences and constituencies.

The council members represent a wide variety of natural resource and recreation interests. Agenda items are set by the council members and council recommendations are forwarded to the DNR for consideration. Since the councils were created in 2008, more than 70 resolutions have been submitted.

Anyone interested in being considered as a future council member should fill out the application form found on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/upcac. For more information, contact the DNR Upper Peninsula regional coordinator’s office at 906-226-1331.

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Artists Wanted to Help Celebrate 100 Years of Elk in Michigan

bull elk with antlers12JUN17-Next year marks the 100th anniversary of elk in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites artists to help celebrate this milestone by creating a one-of a-kind poster depicting the history of Michigan’s elk. The chosen design in the “100th anniversary of Michigan elk” poster-drawing contest will be reproduced and distributed to elk enthusiasts across the nation, and the winner will receive an outdoors prize package.
In 1918, seven elk were relocated to Wolverine, Michigan, from the western United States. Today’s healthy and abundant elk population in the northern Lower Peninsula is due to the management and conservation efforts of the DNR and partners over the last century.
“We are excited to see different interpretations of the 100th anniversary celebration of Michigan’s elk,” said DNR wildlife communications coordinator Katie Keen. “Please share with any artist or designer you know. A great outdoors prize package will be awarded to the winner, not to mention that this poster will be shared with elk enthusiasts everywhere.”
Those interested in participating in the elk poster-drawing contest should submit an email of intent by July 1 to
keenk1@michigan.gov, including the artist’s name, mailing address and phone number. The final submission deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday, August 1st.

Contest guidelines are as follows:

bulletAnyone can enter the contest. Children under the age of 13 need parental permission.
 
bulletWork must be original and submitted by the artist. Entries must be two-dimensional, created using either traditional methods (pens, pencils, crayons, charcoal, oil paint, acrylic paint, watercolor, etc.) or a modern digital illustration process.
 
bulletDesigns must portray elk (one or more than one; it's the artist's choice) in Michigan habitat.
 
bulletThe following text must be included within the design: 100th anniversary, 2018, elk and Michigan
 
bulletAccepted file formats: JPEG, TIFF, PDF
 
bulletMaximum file size 10 MB
 
bulletSubmit entries to keenk1@michigan.gov.
 
bulletThe winner will be contacted in early September.

For hand-drawn designs:

bulletEntries can be designed on 8.5-inch by 11-inch or 11-inch by 17-inch paper.
 
bulletIf the poster cannot be scanned, please photograph it and submit a high-resolution photograph.

For digital designs:

bulletFiles should be 20 inches by 33 inches and have a minimum resolution of 300 dpi.
 
bulletTIFF formats should be flattened.
 
bulletCMYK color space only.

“Good luck to all the artists,” said Keen. “We can’t way to see all the different designs.”

Learn more about Michigan elk at michigan.gov/elk.

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DNR and Volunteers Team Up for Natural Resource Stewardship

12JUN17-Volunteer stewardship workdays are in full swing at state parks and recreation areas throughout southern lower Michigan.
In 20 locations, from Belle Isle to the dunes of Lake Michigan, people from all walks of life are rolling up their sleeves, putting on their gloves and going to work to protect high-quality natural areas from the threat of invasive species.
Laurel Malvitz-Draper, a natural resource steward with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, oversees the Volunteer Steward Program for parks in southeast Michigan.Charity Steere of Chelsea holds a long-rooted spotted knapweed plant pulled from the prairie at Waterloo Recreation Area.

The program was initiated in 2006 to protect high-quality natural areas on state land to provide habitat for species of greatest conservation need in Michigan, including the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, monarch butterfly and cerulean warbler.
“We focus on areas with the most potential to protect biodiversity,” said Malvitz-Draper. “Not just for plants and animals, but for small, lesser known species like the blazing-star borer moth or the red-legged spittlebug.”
Check out a short Invasive Species Stewardship Workday video available online.
Sheila Bourgoin, a graphic designer from Saline, has spent some of her free time over the last six years as a volunteer steward, combing the woods in the Waterloo Recreation Area for garlic mustard and other invasive species.
Invasive species are those that are not native to Michigan and, when introduced, cause harm to ecosystems, the economy or human health.
“I was looking for something to do in the outdoors, and I heard about DNR’s stewardship program,” said Bourgoin. “It’s like hiking, but better. When you are hiking, you’re focused on the destination. Scouting for and removing invasive plants still involves walking in the woods, but you are focused on the surroundings, what is next to you or beneath your feet.”

Charity Steere has been a volunteer steward at Waterloo Recreation Area for the last 12 years. She attended the park’s very first stewardship day, hoping to learn more about the land and why it needed protection.
“My property is within the park, a private inholding, and the work site was at a
prairie fen – a rare wetland created by cold-water springs — only a mile and a half away,” Steere said. “We removed invasive autumn olive bushes, and it left me with a feeling of accomplishment, so I came back for the next event.”

Volunteers in the remnant prairie remove the seed heads of common mullein, a tall invasive plant with soft, leathery leaves, to keep it from spreadingThe Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula, spanning over 20,000 acres between Jackson and Ann Arbor. The park offers camping, access to 11 lakes and 47 miles of hiking trails. It is also home to some high-quality natural areas, including remnant prairie, prairie fens and southern mesic forest.
Bourgoin, a volunteer coordinator with the DNR's Volunteer Steward Program, gets an early start each spring, hiking on and off the forest trails near the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center at Waterloo.
“I usually make several visits in March and April to see where the garlic mustard is coming up,” said Bourgoin. “This helps me organize the workday and figure out where to direct the volunteers.”
Garlic mustard is an invasive plant, originally from Europe, that thrives in wooded areas. It is one of the first plants to emerge in the spring, and it spreads rapidly, producing thousands of tiny seeds per plant.
Walking, trail riding and vehicle traffic contribute to spreading the seeds along trails and into the woods. Left unchecked, garlic mustard can take over the forest floor, crowding out native species like trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit and other forest gems.
On a cool May morning, Bourgoin, a Certified Conservation Steward, leads volunteers through the woods. This year, the garlic mustard is sparse along the trails.

She points out a healthy growth of May apples and explains that the many plants are a colony, connected underground by roots called rhizomes. It seems the years of volunteer work are paying off.
“I want you to think of what this area would be like if we did not manage it regularly,” Bourgoin said. “The garlic mustard is in check, but there are other plants we are looking out for.”
Just a few minutes later, she pulls up a lush vine.Sheila Bourgoin of Saline removes invasive garlic mustard plants from the forest around the Eddy Discovery Center in Waterloo Recreation Area.
“This is Oriental bittersweet, and it’s becoming a problem here,” she said, holding the plant.
Imported from East Asia for its bright red ornamental fruit,
Oriental bittersweet has now taken hold in fields and forests across Michigan, climbing and covering native trees and shrubs.
Other invasive plants, including autumn olive, a silvery-leafed bush, and Japanese barberry, a small, spiny shrub, are also identified just off the trail. These plants require different management techniques, including cutting, herbicide or possibly a prescribed burn.
Steere’s favorite worksite is the remnant prairie along M-52.
Here, volunteers get familiar with
spotted knapweed, an invasive, grayish-green plant with a thistle-like, purple flower. The plant’s long tap-root makes it difficult to remove, but management is important because knapweed releases a chemical in the soil that prevents other plants from growing.
“We started out just removing knapweed across the prairie. Now, we are focused on smaller areas and removing all the invasive species from these sections,” Steere said. “We are making progress, and in August it’s rewarding to see the diversity of native plants in bloom.”

Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant that emits toxins into the soil, preventing other plants from growing. Volunteer efforts are complemented by a program of prescribed burning conducted by DNR staff. Burning can be an effective method of reducing early-emerging plants, including many invasive species, to allow native plants and their seeds to take hold. The M-52 prairie was burned this spring, and another high-quality natural area at Waterloo, the Glenn Fen, is subject to regular burns to increase native plant diversity.
Steere became a stewardship leader in 2008, helping to increase volunteer days to twice a month at Waterloo.
According to Steere, these extra days still aren’t enough.
“It’s like a huge garden – we’ll never get it all weeded,” she said.
Despite the overwhelming nature of the task, Steere said she persists “because I’m stubborn, and I believe in the idea – in saving small islands of native species.”
Stewardship workdays are held nearly every month at 20 state parks across the southern Lower Peninsula. In addition to managing invasive species, volunteers help to collect seeds from native prairie plants, survey for rare birds and insects, and plant native vegetation to restore natural areas.
“Anyone who enjoys the outdoors, likes to learn new things about areas they use or may have passed by, or wants to get a closer look at ecosystems and how they are protected is encouraged to volunteer,” Malvitz-Draper said. “No experience is necessary. It’s a great opportunity to get outdoors, and it’s open to all.”

To learn more about all types of volunteer opportunities with DNR, including stewardship days, visit
www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers.

Information about identifying and managing invasive species can be found at
www.michigan.gov/invasives.
Check out previous
Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles.

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When Encountering Michigan’s Snakes, It's Best to Leave Them Be

Michigan is home to 18 different species of snakes, 17 of which are harmless to humans

thumbnail image from the DNR's Eastern massasauga rattlesnake video06JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources gets many questions this time of year about Michigan's snakes. Eighteen different species of snake call Michigan home, but only one of them poses any real harm to humans.
“Whether you think snakes are terrifying or totally cool, it is best just to leave them be,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator for the DNR.   
The snake the DNR gets the most questions about is the
Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous species found in Michigan. This snake rarely is seen and is listed as a threatened species by the U.S Fish. and Wildlife Service due to declining populations from habitat loss. As its name implies, the Massasauga rattlesnake does have a segmented rattle on its tail. It should not be confused with the other, harmless species of snake in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but will buzz their tails if approached or handled. 
“The Massasauga rattlesnake tends to be a very shy snake that will avoid humans whenever possible,” said Schauer. “They spend the vast majority of their time in wetlands hunting for mice and aren’t often encountered.” 
Schauer said that when a Massasauga is encountered, if the snake doesn't feel threatened it will let people pass without revealing its location.

“If you do get too close without realizing it, a rattlesnake will generally warn you of its presence by rattling its tail while you are still several feet away,” Schauer said. “If given room, the snake will slither away and likely will not be seen again.”
Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan, can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek professional medical attention. 

Learn more about the Massasauga and get more snake safety tips.

Another snake that can cause quite a stir is the eastern hog-nosed snake, one of the many harmless species found in Michigan. When threatened, hognose snakes puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly – this has led to local names like "puff adder" or "hissing viper." If this act is unsuccessful, they will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed do not pose a threat to humans.
Michigan snakes do not attack, chase or lunge at people or seek out human contact. If you have spotted a snake, stay at least 3 feet away from the head to avoid getting bit. Handling or harassing snakes is the most common cause for humans getting bit. Simply put, if left alone, Michigan snakes will leave people alone.
To find out what other kinds of snakes Michigan has and how to tell the difference between them, check out the
"60-Second Snakes" video series on the DNR’s YouTube channel.

Learn more about
Michigan's snakes by visiting mi.gov/wildlife and clicking on the “Wildlife Species” button, then selecting “Amphibians and Reptiles.”

Please consider reporting any reptile or amphibian sightings to the Michigan Herp Atlas research project to help monitor amphibian and reptile populations in the state and protect these important Michigan residents for future generations. Visit www.miherpatlas.org for more information.

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Plan Now for Your Michigan Bird Hunt in the Fall

map showing GEMS locations across northern Lower and Upper peninsulas06JUN17-It may feel like fall is a long way off, but for those who intend to try some upland bird hunting this fall or who are looking for a new hunting location, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests that now is the time to start planning a fall adventure. 
“Preseason planning is a great way to maximize your days in the field,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist.  “Michigan is nationally known for great ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting, but with millions of acres of public land to explore, how do you get started? Michigan’s 17 GEMS are great places to start!”
Grouse Enhanced Management Sites (GEMS), found across the Upper and northern Lower peninsulas, are large blocks of land open to hunting that are managed for young forests. Young forests offer excellent spots to hunt and see wildlife because of the thick cover and great food sources provided.
“GEMS are ideal places to get started for nonresidents unfamiliar with the area, new bird hunters or folks who just thought they’d try a new spot,” Stewart said.

Wood-framed informational kiosk at GEMS locationStewart suggested the following steps:

bullet Visit mi.gov/gems  for an interactive map, information about individual GEMS
and custom maps.
 
bullet Pick out a GEMS location or two you want to visit, and use the GPS points or general directions and a county atlas to get a feel for the area.
 
bullet Print off the detailed GEMS maps or save them to your phone.
 
bullet Drive to the informational parking area and get your bearings. At the kiosk, read about grouse and woodcock, timber activity and the acres of land nearby that you could also hunt. Note that there are businesses (listed on the kiosk) that offer a great discount because they support GEMS.
 
bullet Get out and explore.
 
bullet Repeat over and over, and take others with you.    
       

Michigan’s grouse season runs Sep. 15th to Nov. 14th and Dec. 1st to Jan. 1st.  Woodcock, a migratory bird, have an abbreviated season, Sept. 23 to Nov. 6. To hunt grouse and woodcock in Michigan, hunters need a base license. To target woodcock, they also need the free woodcock stamp. Everything can be purchased online at E-License or at one of the many license agents across the state. 
Millions of acres are open to public hunting in Michigan, and there are many more locations to hunt beyond GEMS. Use
mi.gov/mihunt, an interactive map application, to plan adventures anywhere around the state.

If you have questions, call a DNR Customer Service Center or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at DNR-Wildlife@michigan.gov.

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DNR Updates Amenities at F.J. McLain State Park in Houghton County

Construction proposed to begin after Labor Day

06JUN17-Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials anticipate the park’s modern toilet-shower building will remain open throughout the 2017 camping season at F.J. McLain State Park.
Over the past few years, erosion has been a persistent problem at the park, causing rangers to close some park campsites and other features. Repairs and upgrades are expected to begin later this year, in accordance with the park’s recently updated management plan.A boy rides his bike on a beautiful Saturday at F.J. McLain State Park.

The toilet-shower building is one of those park features threatened by erosion at the park. Over the past several months, because of the uncertainty of the availability of those services, park officials decided campers would be charged semi-modern rates for campsites and mini-cabins.
“We appreciate your patience during this transition period and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” said Jamie Metheringham, unit supervisor for McLain and Twin Lakes state parks. “These new improvements will be positive developments for McLain State Park, aiding our park visitors, many of whom faithfully return year and year.”
Work on a new modern toilet-shower building was initially planned to begin this spring, but has been postponed until after Labor Day (Sept. 4) and the busy summertime camping season.
Meanwhile, the current facility will continue to be used.
“The building will remain open as along as a major storm event does not take place and accelerate the erosion endangering the bathroom building,” Metheringham said. “The semi-modern rate of $18 a night (for this year only) will still be in place.”
Nearly $3 million has been made available to design and construct master plan concepts at the park.

The shoreline is expected to continue to erode at the park. These anticipated changes over the next 60 years are reflected in the park’s master plan.

The final master plan can be viewed
here.

The 443-acre park is situated between Calumet and Hancock in Houghton County, about 10 miles northwest of Hancock, off M-203.
Visitors to F.J. McLain State Park can enjoy a variety of activities ranging from fishing, windsurfing, berry picking and beachcombing to camping, rock hounding, sight-seeing and hunting. The sunsets at McLain State Park are spectacular and the view of the lighthouse is magnificent.
Check out an
F.J. McLain State Park visitor’s guide. Link here to the master plan map and the first phase construction map.
Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings.
Subscribe now.

Learn more about how the Recreation Passport gains you access to 103 Michigan state parks and more.

For more information on Michigan’s state parks, visit the DNR’s webpage.

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Fish Research Vessels Expand Knowledge of Great Lakes

S/V Steelhead riding through channel06JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced all four of its fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning their annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations.
Surveys conducted by these research vessels are designed to examine and collect information on all aspects of the lakes’ fish communities and their habitats. This information is essential in supporting the DNR’s mission to conserve, protect and manage the billion-dollar Great Lakes fishery resource for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations and continues assessment and evaluation work that started in the 1960s.
“The DNR’s Great Lakes research vessels are based in Marquette, Alpena, Charlevoix and Harrison Township,” said DNR Fisheries Division Research Section Manager Gary Whelan. “They work throughout the Great Lakes on a wide variety of assessments and evaluations, beginning this work as soon as ice has cleared from the lakes and continuing well into November.”
Fisheries assessment and evaluation work on Lake Huron is done by the research vessel (R/V) Tanner, the DNR’s newest vessel launched in 2016. This vessel focuses on specific assessments of Lake Huron lake trout and walleye populations, as well as broader fisheries assessments in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River that evaluate fish community changes in these valuable Great Lakes systems. The Saginaw Bay evaluations also are conducted jointly with the R/V Channel Cat, which is based in Lake St. Clair at the fisheries research station in Harrison Township.

Assessment and evaluation of fish populations in lakes St. Clair and Erie are entrusted to the R/V Channel Cat, which has been in service since 1968. This vessel focuses its sampling on walleye, yellow perch and lake sturgeon in these waters that support the highest fishing effort in Michigan’s Great Lakes waters.
Lake Superior work is conducted by the R/V Lake Char, which launched in 2007. The Lake Char assesses the status of Lake Superior’s self-sustaining lake trout populations along with other members of the unique fish community found in that water. Information collected by this vessel is used to generate annual lake trout harvest quotas to ensure the continued health of these fish populations and on lake trout sea lamprey wounding rates, a key mortality factor for this species. The latter effort helps to guide sea lamprey control work by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
On Lake Michigan, the survey vessel (S/V) Steelhead conducts a variety of fisheries assessments and evaluations, including spring evaluations of adult yellow perch, whitefish, lake trout and Chinook salmon populations. The Steelhead was launched in 1967 and has been in continuous operation since 1968, making the 2017 survey season the 50th year on the water for this vessel. Later in the summer, the Steelhead teams up with vessels from the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evaluate lakewide forage fish abundance, which is critical information for the proper management of trout and salmon in this lake.
Throughout the summer, DNR vessels are visible residents of Great Lakes ports. When in port, the public is encouraged to visit the vessels and talk with the crews about fisheries assessment operations.
“When the vessels are collecting sampling equipment and nets or when under way operating trawls, we ask that the public give the vessels plenty of operating space as they often cannot easily steer out of the way and have a lot of mechanical equipment operating that requires the absolute attention by the crews for safe operation,” said Whelan.
To learn more about the efforts of each of the DNR’s vessels, visit the DNR Fisheries Division’s Research website at
michigan.gov/fishresearch or check out the DNR’s online fact sheet about these research vessels.
For a close-up look at the work of DNR fisheries research staff and some underwater video footage taken by a remote operating vehicle,
visit the Alpena Fisheries Research Station's YouTube channel

Additional information about other science vessel operations throughout the Great Lakes can be found at the Great Lakes Association of Science Ships website,
www.canamglass.org.

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DNR Reminds Moose Watchers of Traffic Hazards

A moose stands not far off U.S. 41 near Humboldt in Marquette County.02JUN17-Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials are reminding the public to remember safety and use caution when stopping along roadsides to look at moose and other wildlife.
“We have had recurring concerns reported about motorists stopping along roadsides in the Upper Peninsula to watch and photograph moose,” said Lt. Pete Wright, a DNR district law supervisor. “We understand seeing a moose is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people and it can be tremendously exciting. However, people need to be mindful of the dangers posed by passing traffic and the animals themselves.”

If stopping along a roadway to experience a Michigan moose sighting: 

bulletPull your vehicle completely out of the traffic lanes to park.
bulletMake sure vehicle has stopped moving before exiting.
bulletWatch behind for oncoming vehicles before opening vehicle doors.
bulletDo not walk through traffic to cross the highway.
bulletWait until there is a sufficient opening in traffic to cross the road. Avoid having to wait in the middle of the road for cars to pass.
bulletRemain aware of where you and others are standing while watching or photographing wildlife. Keep away from traffic lanes. Do not rely on motorists to see you and avoid you.
bulletRespect moose and other wildlife as the wild creatures they are. Watch or photograph wildlife from a safe distance. Do not approach or harass wildlife.
bulletKeep a sharp eye out for traffic when returning to your vehicle. Use safe crossing methods.
bulletWatch for approaching vehicles when pulling your vehicle back onto the roadway. Merge properly with traffic.

“Michigan is fortunate to have moose and a wide array of other watchable wildlife to enjoy,” Wright said. “However, when doing so, it’s always best to keep safety in mind.”

For more information on wildlife and wildlife viewing visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife.

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DNR Conservation Officers Investigating Burning in Benzie County

02JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking help from the public in finding those responsible for burning household items on public land, near the village of Lake Ann in Benzie County.
On the evening of May 24th, Michigan Conservation Officers received a complaint about the discovery of approximately 20 burned mattresses and bed spring frames on state-managed land in Inland Township.Several of the headboards found burned near the village of Lake Ann in Benzie County.

Discovered among the burned mattresses and box springs were approximately 18 metal head/foot boards. The head boards are identical and investigators think someone may recognize this large number of these distinctive items.

“It is illegal to dispose of mattresses by burning. It is also illegal to dispose of household materials on state land,” said Conservation Officer Rebecca Hopkins. “In this instance, the fire from the burning mattresses caused the grass and nearby trees to burn and damaged approximately one-half acre of public land. Had conditions been dryer, this incident may have spread into a larger forest fire.”

If anyone has information on this incident, conservation officers ask that they call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800. Those providing information may remain anonymous.

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

Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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Michigan's State Fish Hatcheries Offer Up-close Experience for All Ages

Completed Hatchery Passport Program document02JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has reared fish at its state fish hatcheries for more than a century. This summer, the DNR encourages the public to pay a visit to these unique facilities and see this important work up close.
Located throughout Michigan, the DNR’s six state fish hatcheries rear and stock fish for a variety of reasons, including to restore ecosystem balance, provide diverse fishing opportunities, rehabilitate depressed fish populations and reintroduce extirpated species.
“Over the course of a typical year the DNR will stock roughly 26 million fish – many courtesy of its hatcheries,” said Ed Eisch, the DNR’s fish production manager. “Each of our facilities works hard to produce several different species of fish and we love having visitors come and see directly how we do that work.”
To encourage additional visits in 2017 the DNR has launched its
Hatchery Passport Program, which will reward visitors to all six state fish hatcheries and two select egg-take weir facilities with a collectible sticker representing each respective
location.
“An ambitious visitor can traverse the state collecting these unique stickers that are only available in person,” said Eisch. “Those who fill up their ‘passport’ can then collect a small token of appreciation, courtesy of the DNR.”

To participate in the Hatchery Passport Program, visit michigan.gov/hatcheries or stop by any of the participating locations to download or pick up a copy of the official Hatchery Passport Program document. Additional instructions are within the document. There is no time frame attached to this program; it can be completed at any time by anyone.

The participating locations include:

bullet Harrietta State Fish Hatchery in Harrietta
bullet Marquette State Fish Hatchery in Marquette
bullet Oden State Fish Hatchery in Alanson
bullet Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Beulah
bullet Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Manistique
bullet Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan
bullet Boardman River Weir in Traverse City
bullet Little Manistee River Weir in Stronach

All participating locations should have their collectible stickers in time for or directly following the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

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State Record for Bigmouth Buffalo Broken by Nearly Nine Years Later

Roy Beasley holding new state record bigmouth buffalo02JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed a new state-record fish for bigmouth buffalo. This marks the first state-record fish caught in 2017 – and it was caught by an angler who held the previous state record for bigmouth buffalo from 2008.
The new record fish was caught by Roy Beasley of Madison Heights, Michigan, in the River Raisin (Monroe County) Saturday, May 13, at 11 a.m. Beasley was bowfishing. The fish weighed 27 pounds and measured 35.25 inches.
The record was verified by Todd Wills, a DNR fisheries research manager on Lake St. Clair.
Beasley held the previous state-record bigmouth buffalo – this one caught on the Detroit River – from August 2008. That fish weighed 24.74 pounds and measured 34.50 inches.
“More and more people are enjoying the sport of bowfishing and recognizing the thrill it can offer those who pursue it,” said Sara Thomas, the DNR's Lake Erie Management Unit manager. “The river system in Southeast Michigan offers ample opportunity to catch rather large fish – a huge congrats to Mr. Beasley for having broken this record twice.”
The DNR reminds anglers who bowfish to properly dispose of all specimens they harvest.
State records are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

To view a current list of Michigan state fish records, visit michigan.gov/staterecordfish.

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DNR Reminds Drone Operators of Wildfire Flight Restrictions

01JUN17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding drone, and other unmanned aircraft system, operators that state laws restrict drone use at the scenes of wildfires in Michigan.
Michigan’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act prohibits an individual from knowingly or intentionally operating a drone or other unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with the official duties of firefighters, police, paramedics or search and rescue personnel.
“When a drone is in the air at a wildfire, it poses a safety hazard to our pilots and firefighters, which could require us to ground our spotter planes and fire suppression aircraft,” said Kevin Jacobs, DNR aviation manager. “This can prolong the amount of time it takes to put the fire out, hampers the ability of firefighters to protect lives, property and other resources, while also jeopardizing the safety of fire crews battling the fire on the ground.”

Drones and other types of unmanned aircraft systems are becoming increasingly popular with not only the public, but with governmental entities, including townships, cities and states.
“We are trying actively to educate operators of these types of aircraft, hoping they will understand and respect the potential hazards involved and keep their aircraft away from wildfires,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “We anticipate operators will see the obvious value in this restriction. Beyond that, it’s illegal to fly this type of craft in interference with fire suppression activities.”
Michigan is joining other states, including neighboring Wisconsin, in working toward a goal of an area free of non-emergency aircraft, including drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, within a 5-mile radius of wildfires.
“Voluntary compliance with this request by operators would ensure safer skies for our dedicated fire pilots,” Pepin said. “We all need the DNR fire pilots to be safe to help keep our lives, property and resources safe.”

Learn more about wildfire safety, including tips on how to prevent wildfires, at www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.

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DNR Requests Assistance Containing Virus in St. Clair River and Lake

dead gizzard shad floating in Lake St Clair

26MAY17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is requesting the assistance of anglers and the bait industry in containing the recent outbreak of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv) in the St. Clair River/Lake Erie corridor so it doesn’t spread to other waters.
Cold water temperatures are allowing VHSv to continue to affect fish from the St. Clair River to Lake Erie.
“Water temperatures continue to be well below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, creating conditions that allow for VHSv to keep spreading in the fish community,” said Gary Whelan, DNR Fisheries Division research program manager. “Extended forecasts indicate temperatures will continue to be cool, so we need to make sure anglers and the baitfish industry are aware of actions they can take to help prevent the spread of VHSv to new waters outside of this corridor.”
Anglers are asked to refrain from harvesting minnows for personal use within the borders of St. Clair, Macomb, Wayne and Monroe counties until further notice from the DNR. Those who fish should not move any live fish between water bodies and dispose of bait properly after use. Boaters should make sure their bilges and live wells are emptied prior to leaving a boat launch and all equipment is cleaned and disinfected after use.

The DNR also is looking for cooperation and assistance from the Michigan Bait Dealers Association and bait shops in the corridor. Specifically, baitfish wholesalers and their catchers are asked to refrain from harvesting baitfish from the mouth of the Black River, just south of Port Huron on the St. Clair River, to the Ohio border until further notice. The industry also is requested not to sell baitfish previously harvested within the borders of St. Clair, Macomb, Wayne and Monroe counties to any counties outside of this range until further notice.
“These measures will help prevent this invasive pathogen from moving into new waters outside of the currently affected area,” Whelan said.
The public has been essential in helping the DNR efficiently track and sample this fish kill event and is encouraged to continue to report fish kills, with a focus on kills of more than 25 fish. The public can provide reports by emailing
DNR-Fish-Report-Fish-Kills@michigan.gov

In early May the Michigan DNR confirmed the Lake St. Clair fish kill event is the result of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv). Now the public is being asked to help stop its spread. Fish affected by VHSv often show bloody patches, like those shown here.

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Boat Launch Improvements at Victoria Dam in Ontonagon County

The Victoria Dam on the West Branch of the Ontonagon River provides good sport fishing opportunities.26MAY17-With walleye season now open, Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials have announced improved access to good fishing opportunities at the Victoria Dam via a boat launch facility improved recently by the Upper Peninsula Power Co.
“The improved boat launch site now includes parking for both cars and trucks with trailers, four spots each,” said Jarrod Nelson, UPPCO environmental specialist. “Additionally, the upgrades have provided added space for launching boats, with an improved grade for pulling in and out of the boat launch.”
The project, which was funded by the Bond Falls Mitigation Enhancement Fund, which UPPCO maintains, was completed to improve recreational access to the Victoria Reservoir and improve parking at the site. Work began in August 2016 and was completed in October.
UPPCO owns and operates seven hydroelectric generation stations in the Upper Peninsula, including the Victoria station, a facility on the West Branch of the Ontonagon River, built in 1931, with two units having a combined 12 megawatt capacity.
George Madison, DNR fisheries manager for the Western Lake Superior Management Unit, said the Victoria reservoir provides a very attractive fishery for walleye, bluegill, largemouth bass and black crappie.

“Pond-reared walleye are stocked here on a periodic basis, but natural reproduction from resident walleye spawning in the gravel upstream reaches of the impoundment helps maintain an annual supply of legal-size fish (15 inches),” Madison said. “This reservoir is an excellent body of water for catching walleye by means of trolling the mid-water drop offs, or by jig fishing in the opening pocket-points to the bays.
“Yellow perch are one of the natural forage favorites of walleye here, so anglers fishing yellow and green body-bait lures will be able to mimic perch as a bait item.”
UPPCO has posted signs in the area downstream of the dam impoundment, in cooperation with the DNR, reminding anglers of a DNR fisheries order in place there for roughly 30 years.

The improved boat launch facility at the Victoria Dam is shown.That order closes the West Branch Ontonagon River — from its confluence with the Victoria Hydro Station tail race (T50N, R39W, SE ¼ of the SW ¼ of S29) upstream to Victoria Dam to all fishing from April 1 through June 10.
The rule is in place to protect concentrations of spawning fish.
A regulated utility, UPPCO serves approximately 52,000 electric retail customers in 10 of the Upper Peninsula’s 15 counties, or about 12 customers per square mile. The company’s service territory of 4,460 square miles covers primarily rural countryside.
Industries served by UPPCO include forest products, tourism and manufacturing.
The company’s assets include seven hydroelectric renewable energy generation facilities and two combustion turbines providing a total generation capacity of 79.5 megawatts.
“UPPCO’s hydroelectric projects provide wildlife habitats and offer recreational opportunities on land and water for Upper Peninsula residents and tourists to enjoy, while they also help to support the local tax base,” Nelson said.
UPPCO owns 4,354 miles of distribution lines that traverse some of the most heavily-wooded areas in Michigan. UPPCO also operates 58 distribution substations.

Find out more about UPPCO’s hydroelectric projects, including tips on how to stay safe near dams.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at: www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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DNR's Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer Updated

26MAY17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced the annual update to its web application designed to inform the public on local and regional trends in abundance, growth and survival of important fish populations in selected streams across Michigan is complete.
 

The application was developed and launched by the DNR in 2014 and summarizes data collected from a network of fish population survey sites, with data for some sites going back to 1947.
 

“The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer features more than 40 streams that represent a range of conditions in terms of stream size, temperature and Great Lakes access,” said DNR fisheries research biologist Troy Zorn. “The focus is on streams with long-term data and naturally reproducing populations of trout, Great Lakes salmonids or smallmouth bass to provide users with information on self-sustaining fish populations around the state.”
 

Since trends in stream fish populations largely are influenced by regional climate and flow conditions, repeatedly going back to the same locations annually provides a clear understanding of trends in a stream. Users will be able to see what the population trends are in different areas of the state by comparing trends for key sites in each region. For fishery managers, understanding regional trends is critical to determine the best course of management on these streams, as well as interpreting survey data on streams that are surveyed less frequently. Understanding these trends is equally important to anglers, watershed or conservation groups, and the public.
Anglers, fisheries professionals and the public can look up a river and see what the most recent trends are in terms of abundance, growth and annual survival of selected fish species. Information can be viewed in map, graph or table formats. Approximately half of the sites are sampled each year, with new data added to the Trend Viewer each spring.

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer app can be found at http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/fishpop/#.

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DNR Seeks Public-private Partners for Parks, Trails & Waterways

These Goods are Good for Michigan seal25MAY17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking several public-private partners for two distinct partnership programs in order to raise awareness and financial support for Michigan state parks, trails and waterways. 
"We have found that businesses and organizations want to work hand in hand with the DNR to foster support for natural resources and outdoor recreation in Michigan," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, outdoor recreation in Michigan generates $18.7 billion in consumer spending, 194,000 direct jobs, $5.5 billion in wages and salaries and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.

"Many businesses across the state not only want to support Michigan state parks and other natural resources," Olson said, "but they're also interested in continuing to build on one of the state's biggest economic drivers – outdoor recreation."

"These Goods are Good for Michigan"

The DNR created the "These Goods are Good for Michigan" program to recognize partners who help support Michigan’s state parks, trails and waterways through a revenue-sharing agreement from the sales of merchandise. 
"Over the course of the last couple of years, the DNR has forged partnerships with businesses such as Chateau Grand Traverse, Espresso Royale and Labatt Blue," said Maia Turek, resource development specialist for the DNR. "These businesses created a special product line in celebration of Michigan state parks, and a portion of the sales was donated back to the state's parks, trails and waterways."
Through these partnerships, businesses are not only able to support Michigan's great outdoors, but they can also determine how their funds will be spent. In the case of Chateau Grand Traverse, they let their consumers decide how the funds would be donated.
“We created three custom wines highlighting Michigan's natural resources and then created an online voting option to help us further tell the story of our partnership," said Elizabeth Weddle, marketing director for Chateau Grand Traverse. "This was a great marketing tool that not only created excitement around the product and partnership, but helped the DNR raise awareness and address some of their financial needs."
These partnerships make a big impact in Michigan state parks. From planting new trees lost to disease to improving energy efficiency and expanding recycling options, the funds allow the DNR to add additional value and amenities beyond infrastructure that are critical to health and safety.

State park centennial celebration

The DNR is in planning stages for a statewide celebration to mark the 100th year of the Michigan State Park Commission. To help make the celebration meaningful to all Michigan residents and businesses, partners are invited to join the celebration through a partnership that highlights their support of Michigan state parks.
From sharing information on the centennial through employee communication efforts to underwriting portions of the educational campaign, the DNR is seeking a variety of partnerships that help tell the story of Michigan state parks.

How to get involved

Any business or organization interested in getting involved with either of these programs should contact Maia Turek at turekm@michigan.gov or 989-225-8573 to explore opportunities to work together for Michigan’s natural resources.

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The Wonder of Grasslands

23MAY17-Perhaps one of the most underrated habitat types in our great nation is the grassland. For a country with deep agricultural roots, grasslands are sometimes viewed as farmland that just hasn’t been planted yet.
Grasslands, however, are so much more than empty fields. Grasslands provide great benefits to wildlife and to people as well.

Grasslands planted along agricultural fields can keep runoff out of waterways. Many people may not know that grasslands help to improve water and air quality – important for all of us in Michigan and throughout the world. They are also simply stunning to view in mid-to-late summer, when the prairie wildflowers are in full bloom.
Grasslands can be found all over the world – from the savannas of Africa to the steppes of Russia to the plains and prairies of North America.
Grasslands are characterized by — you guessed it — grass.
Grasses form most of the plant life, and natural grazing, wildfires and periodic drought help to keep woody plants from growing in grasslands. The soil in grasslands is nutrient-rich from the growth and decay of deep grass roots.

Check out the story of an interesting Michigan DNR grassland management area and wildlife refuge.

Important in the filtration and purification of our air and water resources, grasslands have deep, dense root systems. Grasslands trap precipitation so water can percolate down into the soil, where it can be cleaned and filtered. Grasslands also pull carbon dioxide from the air and release clean oxygen.
“The water filtration conducted by grasslands is especially important in agricultural areas where pesticides, excess nitrogen and phosphorus and other potentially harmful chemicals can be filtered instead of running off into waterways,” said Pheasants Forever regional representative and Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative Co-chairman Bill VanderZouwen.
In agricultural areas, farmers often plant buffer strips of grass along streams or agricultural ditches to prevent runoff from occurring. Grasslands also help to anchor the soil along streambanks and ditches to reduce sediment load in waterways.Ring-necked pheasants inhabit grasslands in Michigan.

Congressional passage of the federal Farm Bill helps to restore grasslands by offering farmers financial reimbursement for conservation practices, including the planting of grasslands and buffer strips.

Savannah sparrows are among several sparrow species that live in grasslands. In addition to their important role in water purification, grasslands also improve air quality. Native grasses take in carbon dioxide and give off clean oxygen.
Native grassland vegetation also sequesters carbon. When plants die, most of the dead plant material — which gives off carbon as it dies — is in the root system, under the soil. The carbon is trapped beneficially in the soil instead of being released to the air.
For many wildlife species, grasslands are a vital habitat type. Many creatures make their homes in these areas, including a variety of songbirds that use the grasses for nesting and feeding, including red-winged blackbirds, savannah sparrows, ring-necked pheasants and eastern meadowlarks.

“Pollinators like bees and butterflies love the wildflowers that grow in grasslands and many mammals make their homes in grasslands too,” said DNR wildlife communications coordinator Holly Vaughn. “Badgers, meadow voles, coyotes, and white-tailed deer rely on grasslands. Believe it or not, even American bison once roamed Michigan’s southern prairies.”

Grasslands have become increasingly rare over the last 150 years due to the conversion of grasslands to agriculture. The rich soil and lack of trees made prairies, plains and other grasslands in North America prime lands for farming. This conversion has led to a decrease in many grassland wildlife and plant species.
Fortunately, in our state, the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is working to improve, enhance and restore Michigan’s remaining grasslands on private and public lands.A sweeping vista along a Michigan grassland.

“Extensive grassland restoration work is in progress at Lake Hudson State Recreation Area in Lenawee County, Verona State Game Area in Huron County, Sharonville SGA in Jackson and Washtenaw Counties, and Maple River State Game Area in Gratiot County, as well as on other public and private lands in southern Michigan”, said DNR upland game bird specialist Al Stewart.
Bringing together many partners, this restoration work is a conservation initiative to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat (grasslands), populations, and hunting opportunities on private and public lands via pheasant cooperatives.
The initiative works by acquiring state and federal resources to assist landowners in the cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat on their properties and by improving grassland habitat on selected state game areas, recreation areas or other public lands.

To learn more about this restoration effort, visit www.mi.gov./pheasant.

Next time you see a grassland in fabulous bloom along a highway, or in a more bucolic setting, perhaps you will consider the benefits and importance of these examples of one of our country’s beautiful natural habitats.

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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.

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