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Updated 02/11/20



Reminder: No license or Permit Purchases this Weekend

New DNR license sales system webpage screen shot11FEB20-In just a few days, the DNR will begin the changeover to a new system for selling hunting and fishing licenses, hunting applications, and ORV and snowmobile permits online and at retail agent locations statewide. The changeover starts Saturday, February 15th, and the new system will go live at noon Tuesday, February 18th.

During the changeover, all licenses, permits and applications will be unavailable for sale – both online and in retail stores. If you’ve been planning to pick up a license or permit for the coming weekend, don’t wait. Please plan ahead, or plan to wait until after noon Feb. 18. (However, select dealers across the state will be selling preprinted ORV licenses and ORV and snowmobile trail permits while the system is down.)

If you would like to learn more, we recently shared a news release with details about the transition to the new license sales system. We appreciate your patience as we work to improve our customers’ experience. Thank you!


#MiFreeFishingWeekend is Back, February 15th Through 16th

DNR Winter Free Fishing graphic, a brown sign with snow on the top and snowflakes around the words11FEB20-Everyone’s invited to join in the DNR’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15 and 16. No fishing license is needed, although all other fishing regulations still apply.

The weekend coincides with the DNR’s move to a new license sales system. Due to the changeover, which will run Saturday, February 15th, through noon, Tuesday, Feb. 18th, no hunting or fishing licenses can be purchased online or in stores during that time.

Over the last few years, the DNR has made it even easier to fish on Free Fishing weekends by waiving the need for the Recreation Passport, normally required for vehicle entry at state parks, more than 1,300 DNR-managed boating access sites and other state-managed outdoor recreation destinations. Because of the license sales system changeover and the desire to make things simpler for customers, the department is waiving the need for a Recreation Passport or a fishing license on Monday, February 17th, too – two more reasons to get outdoors during the holiday weekend!

#MiFreeFishingWeekend is an annual effort to promote Michigan’s world-class fishing. While many will bundle up and head out on their own, there are several organized events happening throughout the state, including:

Check for more events around the state, as well as other details about the weekend. Remember, all events are subject to weather conditions.

Questions? Contact Suzanne Stone at 517-284-6162.


Keep Michigan's Waters Great – Don't Dump Your Bait

close-up view of a bait fish at the top of a bucket, with more fish swimming beneath it in the bottom.11FEB20-With the coming Winter Free Fishing Weekend (February 15th - 16th) expected to lure more people onto the water, it’s a good time to remind anglers about the legal ways to handle bait that protect our world-class fisheries. Last March, new boating and fishing laws regarding the release of baitfish, the collection and use of baitfish and cut bait, and the release of captured fish took effect.

Simply put, the law says that unused baitfish, whether purchased or collected, must be disposed of on land or in the trash – never in the water. If anglers collect baitfish from the waters where they’re fishing, it can be used only in those same waters.

Similarly, Seth Herbst, the DNR’s aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager, said that anyone catching and releasing fish is required to release those fish back into the same waters where they were caught.

“The department wants to be clear that, even with the new law, people are still allowed to catch and release fish during the appropriate seasons – they’re just encouraged to use extra care to ensure no invasive species or pathogens are spread,” Herbst said.

Moving fish from one body of water to another increases the risk of spreading invasive species and fish health concerns, like heterosporis (a parasite of yellow perch) and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (a serious disease that can harm many fish species). These can easily spread to new locations when water is carelessly transferred via a boat’s undrained bilge, live well or ballast tank, and when unused bait is disposed of improperly.

No matter when or where you fish, always remember to dispose of unused bait in the trash and return catch-and-release fish to the waters where they were caught. These simple steps can make a huge difference in the health of Michigan’s rivers, lakes and streams and the fish that live in them.

For more information, visit the Laws section of the website or contact Seth Herbst at 517-284-5841


Learn advanced ice fishing techniques with Outdoor Skills Academy

ice fisherman on lake holding large fish

07FEB20-If you’d like to step up your ice fishing game with pointers from the pros, we can help.

The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy will offer the Advanced Hard Water School ice fishing clinic at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac February 21st - 23rd. This three-day class will cover specific topics – each student will pick a topic of interest and will be assigned a pro fisherman from Team USA, HT Enterprises, Clam Outdoors, Vexilar or Ice Force – and will include time out on the ice and in the classroom. Cost is $75, which includes some meals, bait and door prizes/goody bags.

Sign up now for Outdoor Skills Academy classes coming up in March, which include:

  • Hard Water School (ice fishing class) at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac, March 7-8. This two-day class covers everything from how to set up equipment and how and where to fish to ice safety and rules and regulations, with a focus on techniques for pan fish, walleye and pike. Cost is $25.
  • Bluebird and Nest Box Basics at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, March 14. Learn how to attract bluebirds to your open spaces with carefully maintained nest boxes. We will cover tips and tricks to discourage predators and parasites, the pros and cons of different nesting box designs and how to mount them, where to locate boxes for success and how to monitor your boxes. Cost is $40 and includes lunch, a nest box kit, a book and other materials.

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

See a full calendar of classes at


Experience #MiFreeFishingWeekend February 15th - 16th

boy ice fishing holding pole with fish on it07FEB20-Grab a fishing rod and enjoy some of the finest fishing Michigan has to offer during the 2020 Winter Free Fishing Weekend. This year’s weekend will be Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16. On those two days, everyone – residents and nonresidents alike – can fish without a license. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Additionally, that weekend the DNR will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and more than 1,300 DNR-managed boating access sites.

Several locations will host official 2020 Winter Free Fishing Weekend events perfect for the whole family, including:

In addition, no fishing license is required and the Recreation Passport fee will be waived Monday, February 17th, to coincide with the DNR's changeover to a new license sales system

Find more information about Free Fishing Weekend at


2020 Black Lake Sturgeon Season Lasts One Day

Smiling man wearing winter gear holds up a large sturgeon; standing in front of DNR registration station on Black Lake07FEB20-This year’s sturgeon season on Black Lake (Cheboygan County, Michigan) ended at 1:40 p.m. Saturday, February 1st – not quite six hours after the day’s 8 a.m. start.

The fishing season, which included spearing or hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 1-5, or until the harvest quota had been reached. This year's allocation of sturgeon for Black Lake anglers was seven fish, although Department of Natural Resources officials set a harvest quota of six fish to reduce the risk of over-fishing.

There were 472 registered anglers on the ice Saturday, the highest total since the inception of the open sturgeon fishery. People of all ages again participated, and from a number of states.

According to the DNR, three of the six sturgeon harvested were males ranging from 44 to 60 inches in length, and 16 to 51 pounds in weight. The three females ranged from 47 to 75 inches long, and 19 to 100 pounds in weight.

DNR fisheries biologist Tim Cwalinski said that three of the six fish had been captured before by Michigan State University and the DNR during spring spawning runs in the Black River:

  • A 60-inch male originally was captured in the 2011 spring spawning run, and then recaptured in 2013, 2015 and 2019. 
  • A 65-inch male had been captured and tagged during the 2007, 2015 and 2019 spawning runs. 
  • The largest fish, a 75-inch female weighing 100 pounds, had been captured and tagged during the 2004 and 2008 spawning runs.

Participating anglers were notified of the season’s end in a variety of ways: text alerts to those who provided cell phone numbers, a fishing telephone hotline, UAW Black Lake Conference Center siren, and ice shanty visits from DNR personnel. All methods were used within minutes of the final fish being harvested. DNR fisheries and law enforcement officials were embedded in the on-ice fishing communities and were able to quickly report harvested fish and contact all participating anglers about the season's close.

“We allow for any licensed angler to participate – as long as they register – so we need to have a significant on-ice presence to protect the population of lake sturgeon in Black Lake from over-harvest,” said Cwalinski. “This year was another successful season for angler participation, fish harvest and quick response times, as well as from a safety perspective.”

For more information on lake sturgeon in Michigan, visit


DNR to Launch New License Sales System February 18th

System down starting February 15th; customers encouraged to buy licenses and permits early

05FEB20-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will  move to a new, more technologically advanced system for selling hunting and fishing licenses, hunting applications, and ORV and snowmobile permits online and at retail agent locations statewide. The new system will go live at noon February 18th.

The transition to the new license sales system will take place Saturday, February 15th, through noon Tuesday, February 18th. DNR licenses, permits and applications will not be sold in stores or online during that time.
To avoid any interruption to outdoor activities that weekend, customers are encouraged to buy licenses or permits before February 15th, if possible.
Anglers will not need a license to fish February 15th - 17th. No fishing license is required during the annual winter
Free Fishing Weekend, February 15th and 16th, and the DNR also is allowing free fishing on Monday, February 17th, to coincide with the time the license system is unavailable. All rules and regulations still apply.
Snow mobile riders and off-road vehicle riders can find a list of select dealers selling preprinted ORV licenses and ORV and snowmobile trail permits while the system is down at
Moving to the new system, which will replace a 26-year-old system under a vendor contract ending in April, allowed the DNR to upgrade its license sales technology, enhance features for customers and provide new equipment to license retailers.
“We’re always looking to improve our customers’ experience, and we designed this new system to improve the license-buying experience both online and in stores,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “We spent more than two years planning and developing a modern license sales system that offers up-to-date, convenient and cost-effective services for our customers and retail partners.”

Features of the new license sales system include:

  • A barcode scanner wand at retailer locations, which will allow license agents to speed up the sales process by quickly scanning customer driver’s licenses – including nonresidents – rather than typing in customer information.
  • A more streamlined buying and selling process both online and in stores – for example, customers will only have the option to buy licenses for which they are eligible, meaning they shouldn’t be able to accidentally buy the wrong license and pay the wrong amount.
  • The opportunity for online customers to create a profile, access their order history, reprint previously purchased, non-kill tag items and set up voluntary auto-renewal of fishing licenses.
  • Purchases consolidated on the printed license, which means fewer licenses for customers to carry and potentially lose.
  • A QR code on the license to encrypt the customer identification number for increased security.

The DNR license sales system serves about 2 million customers a year, online and through 1,500 retail agent locations throughout Michigan, issuing nearly 4 million licenses and permits and processing roughly $77 million in revenue.
Through a competitive bid process, Sovereign Sportsman Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee – subcontracting with Dewpoint, a Michigan-based internet technology solutions company – was selected to develop the new system. An industry leader serving customers in the U.S. and Canada, S3 demonstrated an established, proven product that could be tailored to Michigan’s specific needs and brought the benefit of learning from other states’ experiences.
License customers and retail agents provided input that helped shape the new system’s features and participated in system testing to provide feedback on its functionality and ease of use.

Find both the current and future DNR online license sales system at

Learn more about the new system and what customers can expect.


Apply to Volunteer as a State Harbor Host

two sailboats in harbor03FEB20-New this year, we're looking for volunteers to serve as harbor hosts as part of a pilot project at Straits and Presque Isle state harbors this summer. In exchange, harbor slip fees are waived. There may be additional host opportunities available in the coming years.

Harbor host duties vary based on location, but center around hospitality and service for boaters and could include duties like helping boaters in and out of slips, hosting a weekly coffee hour and cleaning sidewalks and docks of debris.

Applications are being accepted now. To serve as a harbor host, you must be 18 or older and provide your own boat, mooring lines, hoses, electrical hookup cables and dock bumpers and be able to volunteer at least five days a week for a minimum of four weeks, including weekends and holidays.

Learn more about volunteering as a harbor host.


Pitch in to Improve Wildlife Habitat at On-the-Ground Events

Group of volunteers with wood duck boxes03FEB20-On the Ground – Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ volunteer wildlife habitat improvement program in partnership with the DNR – is looking for volunteers to help with projects at two state game areas in February:

  • Saturday, Feb. 22nd, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Maple River State Game Area (Gratiot County)
    Help clear dikes of woody brush and perform maintenance on wood duck nest boxes to prepare for the upcoming nesting season. MUCC will provide lunch, refreshments and T-shirts to all volunteers.

    Maple River State Game Area event details and registration.
  • Saturday, Feb. 29th, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County)
    Help place wood duck nest boxes and clean out old ones to prepare the boxes for the upcoming nesting season. MUCC will provide lunch, refreshments, and T-shirts to all volunteers.

    Shiawassee River State Game Area event details and registration.

Learn more about On the Ground and see other upcoming volunteer opportunities at


Help Restore Natural Areas, Fight Invasive Species at State Parks

Volunteer cutting invasive shrub in snowy forest

03FEB20-State parks in southern Michigan will host a number of volunteer stewardship workdays in February.

Volunteers are needed to help with removing invasive shrubs that threaten to crowd out native plants and with other efforts to restore high-quality ecosystems and improve habitat in the parks.

Workdays will take place:

  • Saturday, Feb. 15th, 9 a.m. to noon at Belle Isle Park (Wayne County)
  • Saturday, Feb. 15th, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Sunday, Feb. 16th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County)
  • Sunday, Feb. 16th, 1 to 4 p.m. at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
  • Saturday, Feb. 22nd, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Sunday, Feb. 23rd, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Algonac State Park (St. Clair County)
  • Sunday, Feb. 23rd, 1 to 4 p.m. at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
  • Saturday, Feb. 29th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County)

More details about each workday can be found on the DNR volunteer events calendar.


Reflecting on the Michigan State Parks' Centennial Year

By RON OLSON - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson with family at triathalon30JAN20-When was the first time you fell in love with Michigan’s out-of-doors?
Most people – whether longtime residents or those here just for a visit – have had that moment when a picture-perfect blue sky, a sweeping shoreline vista, the silence of an old-growth forest or the sound of rushing water has taken their breath away.
This past year we celebrated these wondrous features of our state, and the people who gather amid them, during our state parks centennial. 
Michigan state parks, forests, trails and waterways are at the core of the spirit of this Great Lakes state, and we are working hard to ensure that they endure for another century.
On May 12, 1919, the Michigan Legislature created the state parks system with the establishment of the Michigan State Parks Commission. This legislative act not only moved forward a vision to acquire lands to create quality public outdoor spaces but helped shape an important aspect of Michigan’s heritage.

Our state parks fused together the public’s desire for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation with opportunities to make lasting memories – enjoying experiences outdoors with Michigan’s spectacular scenic beauty as a backdrop.

boys looks out at Lake Michigan from Ludington State Park beach houseA drive through Holly Recreation Area or Sleepy Hollow State Park evokes memories of Sunday afternoons and gingham picnic blankets. A hike along the path to the brink of the Tahquamenon Falls or a weekend spent on the soft sands in front of Ludington State Park’s historic beach house may recall memories of special times spent with family and friends.
It’s for this reason that the Michigan state parks centennial celebration centered around the personal memories and shared experiences that connect so many of us.
As the year closed, we had an opportunity to step back and ask what it will take to ensure our state parks are sustainable and protected for decades to come.
We thought a lot about why we do what we do.

After combing through many of the snapshots and stories submitted by the public to our online memory map, hearing anecdotes shared at campfire storytelling events and seeing the artwork created by plein air painters – all the result of 2019’s centennial celebration programming – it’s easier to peel back the layers to see the heart of what we do and why.
Our natural resources stewardship work, stellar recreation facilities and resource conservation efforts are indeed pillars of Michigan’s state parks system, but our backbone is our 28 million annual visitors.
Throughout the yearlong centennial celebration, we were increasingly made aware that state parks play an integral role in Michigan culture. These unique outdoor spaces have become memory-making destinations for so many people.
Another idea we have considered is how to become even more relevant to current and future generations of state park users.

snowshoers on lantern-lit hikeAs we strive to sustain world-class outdoor recreation opportunities, protect and preserve our natural and cultural resources and maintain an engaging culture within our DNR staff, how do we move the needle toward greater connection and relevancy?
In many ways, attaining that accomplishment will be realized by reversing the order of these important goals.
First, we must continue to attract and retain the best and brightest DNR staff members who are passionate about natural and cultural resources.
In doing that, I am assured staff will continue to seek innovative ways to protect and conserve resources, while also creating engaging ways for people to experience and appreciate the outdoors, and by extension, our 103 Michigan state parks.
Lantern-lit hikes, dark-sky events, water parks, the Bob Ross virtual 5K, storytelling events and Detroit’s Outdoor Adventure Center are just a few of the ways DNR staffers have put their heads together to expand outdoor experiences in entirely new ways.

The many interpreters, park managers, rangers and our business partners all work hard to maintain the many traditional ways park visitors experience the outdoors, while sometimes shifting their focus to discover new ways to offer quality outdoor experiences.
In addition, as we continue to sustain outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan and maintain good stewardship practices, we’ve embraced “sustainable contraction” – a strategic concept that identifies new opportunities to provide improved access or recreational opportunities.
Recent campground upgrades at Wilderness State Park are a great example of this strategy being implemented.
Based on a shift in today’s camping tendencies, we recently integrated additional full-hook-up options for recreational vehicles at the park, rather than building an additional new bathroom and shower facility.
This shift in infrastructure development allowed us to better serve our customers while spending less money on renovations.

Man and two children look out at Lower Tahquamenon FallsThe foundation laid 100 years ago by the Michigan State Parks Commission has produced a beloved and substantial system of state parks, pathways and scenic sites.
Moving forward, we will continue to be guided by some of those same early tenets adopted by the commission – sustainability, conservation and expansion. 
Conservation will help ensure the existence and prosperity of these special outdoor spaces for the next 100 years. Sustainability allows for innovation to achieve goals appropriate for the broadest group possible. Expansion will continue to allow the state parks system to remain nimble and develop as needed.
From that pathway along the rushing roar of the Tahquamenon River to the sandy beaches at Ludington, and to dozens of other special places scattered across Michigan, it is for our park visitors of today and tomorrow that we remain faithful stewards, conserving our natural resources and keeping state parks favored as phenomenal memory-making destinations. 

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


Snowmobile Trails in East U.P. Reopen After Massive Storm Cleanup

A trail view showing downed trees from recent storms in the eastern U.P.; provided by Les Cheneaux Grooming Club in Cedarville.28JAN20-Thanks to a true team effort between the DNR and snowmobile grant sponsors, more than 120 miles of state-designated trails in Chippewa and eastern Mackinac counties have been cleared and are ready to welcome back snow mobile riders. A storm that began in late December dumped ice and snow across the eastern Upper Peninsula, snapping power poles, breaking branches and leaving many miles of trail impassable because of the debris.
“I’ve never seen a storm like that,” said Rob Shields, a DNR forest fire supervisor based in Sault Ste. Marie. “On top of ice, we were hit with 6 inches of wet, sloppy snow and ice on top of that. It just started snapping trees.”

Many DNR employees joined the area’s snowmobile grant sponsors to get the job done. Those pitching in included the Chippewa Snow Chasers, the Sault Ste. Marie Snowmobile Association, the Drummond Island Tourist Association, the Les Cheneaux Grooming Club, the Straits Grooming Association, the Curtis Chamber of Commerce, the Tahquamenon Area Snowmobile Association and the Paradise Area Night Riders. Revenue from the purchase of snowmobile trail permits provides important grant funding to sponsors and clubs for trail grooming.
“Without collaboration and total team effort on a cleanup like this, the trails likely would have been closed for the majority of the season,” Shields said.
Snowmobile grant sponsors play an important role in keeping snowmobile trails safe and ready to ride. Michigan’s snowmobile program is 100% funded by trail permit and registration dollars. That money is directly reinvested into the program for things like the funding allotted to snowmobile grant sponsors – the nonprofit organizations that groom and brush trails.
Watch this brief video to learn more about using, funding and caring for these trails.
The DNR regularly updates
trail closures and provides links to trail reports that provide helpful information on conditions. Before returning to the trails in the eastern U.P. or anywhere in Michigan, people are encouraged to visit for information on purchasing a permit, getting trail maps and reviewing important safety tips as part of the DNR’s Ride Right program.

Questions? Contact Doug Donnelly at 517-284-6109.


ICYMI: New App Helps Public to Help Local Rivers, Watersheds

screen shot of Trout Unlimited's RIVERS app, a tool that can help anglers and anyone on the water report trash, erosion or other problems.28JAN20-On a brisk October day, Trout Unlimited volunteer Parker VandenBerg and DNR forester Mike Smalligan paddled a canoe down the White River in Newaygo County, testing out Trout Unlimited’s new mobile application, RIVERS. The acronym stands for “River Inventory by Volunteers for Efficient Restoration Strategies.”
The long name is part of a big goal – to help Trout Unlimited and local White River Watershed Partnership managers plan restoration projects by recording degraded habitat locations. To do this, the organizations developed a downloadable app to enlist the help of anglers and citizen scientists – volunteers who share scientific insights about places they love.
In case you missed it, we recently shared a story about how the app makes it easy for people paddling, fishing or just spending time on their favorite rivers to take note of unusual or potentially problematic things like too much sediment, shoreline erosion, trash or poor water visibility, and then share what they see and where they are.

Read the full RIVERS story and learn more about how this simple app can help people serve as citizen scientists.


April Summit Aims to Build Industry Interest in Mass Timber

looking up at the corner of a multistory, mass timber building under construction, blue sky above

28JAN20-Stronger than steel, fire-resistant and sustainable, mass timber is an emerging building material catching the interest of architects and trades people throughout the U.S. and Europe. Closer to home, building industry leaders, trades people, lumber manufacturers and forest managers will meet April 20th - 21st at the Michigan Mass Timber Summit in East Lansing to explore new, innovative possibilities for wood-based construction.
Mass timber framing uses large solid or engineered wood columns. These techniques allow for tall buildings to be created out of renewable timber instead of concrete or steel, meaning that future skylines could include wooden skyscrapers.

Summit organizers including the DNR and the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute hope to spark adoption of mass timber in the Midwest. Attendees will get to tour a mass timber frame building – the first in the state – currently under construction on the Michigan State University campus.
“There is great potential to use mass timber to accelerate sustainable building techniques and promote Michigan’s forest products industry,” said Shannon Hanna, DNR natural resources deputy. “Creating sustainable pathways for the state’s forest industries will provide many ecological and economic benefits.”

Michigan’s state forests are dual-certified by two independent organizations as sustainably managed.

Get more information and register for the summit at Questions? Contact Brenda Haskill (DNR) or Julie Manley (Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute).


Share Your Thoughts with the DNR at Upcoming Meetings

28JAN20-The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing Michigan residents the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions, programs and other aspects of natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities. One important avenue for this input is at meetings of the public bodies that advise the DNR and, in some cases, also set policies for natural resource management.

The following boards, commissions, committees and councils will hold public meetings next month. The public is encouraged to attend. The links below will take you to the webpage for each group, where you will find specific meeting locations and, when finalized, meeting agendas.

Please check these pages frequently, as meeting details and agendas may change and sometimes meetings are canceled.

February meetings


Do A Deep History Dive Into Michigan's Statehood Stories

artist rendering of Stevens T. Mason holding the Michigan constitution, from the Pat Reed Collection, Archives of Michigan23JAN20-Just in time for the anniversary of Michigan's statehood (we joined the Union as the nation's 26th state on January 26th, 1837), has launched a compelling collection of new K-12 materials that creatively tell our state's diverse stories.
Statehood Era: 1787-1840 section, specifically, digs into the different perspectives on freedom and citizenship, using a variety of primary source materials including interviews, letters, photos and other items from the Michigan History Museum and the Archives of Michigan. 
"One of the coolest things about these new collections in Michiganology is that everyone can discover something new," said Tobi Voigt, community engagement director at the Michigan History Center. "Different parts of the Michiganology content are geared toward different grade levels, which is great for early learners and high schoolers, not to mention people who simply want to revisit things that maybe they forgot they learned in school."

There are 20 available stories within the statehood content, including:

  • The Indigenous People in Michigan.
  • Toledo, Michigan?
  • Henry Bibb Speaks Out Against Slavery.
  • What Is a Constitution?

Questions? Contact Tobi Voigt at 517-241-1442.


Design The 2020 Deer Management Cooperator Patch

2019 winning Michigan Deer Management Cooperator Patch, designed by Spencer Reynolds of Lansing23JAN20-The Michigan deer management cooperator patch, given to hunters who bring their deer to a DNR check station, has been a popular collector’s item for hunters since the early 1970s. Every year the patch design is different, but always portrays the designer’s interpretation of white-tailed deer or deer hunting in Michigan.
Those interested in sharing their design ideas for the 2020 deer patch are encouraged to enter this year’s contest, which is open to everyone.
“Every year we get a fantastic selection of designs!” said Emilie O’Grady, an outreach assistant in the DNR Wildlife Division. “We look forward to seeing all the new submissions, and we wish good luck to all of this year’s artists.”
O’Grady said that the DNR offers the deer patch to thank hunters who present their deer at check stations during the hunting seasons, because it is during these checks that DNR staff is able to collect valuable information about Michigan’s deer population – things like locations where hunters have been successful, the age and sex of deer taken, and a big-picture look at herd health.

Design submissions for the 2020 deer management cooperator patch are due by March 10. Patch designs may be created in any medium and shape, with no more than five colors used. The work must be original and submitted by the artist.
Complete contest information and submission guidelines are available at under Cooperator Patches. This year’s contest winner will be contacted in early May.

Questions about the contest? Contact Emilie O’Grady at 517-284-9453


DNR Seeks Applicants, $100K Available in UP Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership grants

22JAN20-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the availability of $100,000 in grants for deer habitat improvement projects on non-state lands across the Upper Peninsula.
The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative is a cooperative grant program being offered by the DNR’s Wildlife Division. Now in its 12th year, more than $850,000 in hunter license dollars has been invested into deer habitat improvement projects through the program.
“Almost 100 projects, in nearly all U.P. counties, have improved thousands of acres of deer habitat,” said Bill Scullon, DNR Wildlife Division field operations manager and administrator for the grant initiative. “In addition, project partners have contributed nearly half a million dollars in matching funds which has helped to grow the program benefits for wildlife.”
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.

The maximum amount of individual grants is $15,000 and the minimum is $2,000.
"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 project benefits to the public."
Previous projects funded under the initiative have focused on improving winter deer habitat by planting long-lived conifers and scarification for conifer regeneration.
Summer range deer habitat projects have included planting hard mast oak trees, wildlife orchards; creation of hunter walking trails, rehabilitation of historic wildlife openings; native prairie restoration. Some past grant recipients have also facilitated youth hunting and veteran opportunities on improved private lands.
Project applications must be postmarked by Friday, March 6, and successful applicants will be notified by Wednesday, April 1. 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


Reward Offered in Elk Poaching Incidents in North Lower Peninsula

21JAN20-The Safari Club International-Michigan Involvement Committee is concerned by numerous recent reports of elk being poached in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.
As a result, the committee is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of an individual or individuals illegally killing elk in Michigan.  In the past, the organization has offered a similar $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally killing moose in Michigan, and this offer stands to date.
In mid-December, area residents found three adult elk cows poached in Otsego County. The incident marked the third such case in northern Michigan in roughly a month. In mid-November, one bull elk was killed in Montmorency County and another, during the same week, was poached in the Pigeon River Country in Otsego County.

To report information on the illegal killing of elk or moose in Michigan, please call or text the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

For more information about the conservation work of SCI-MIC visit


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recreation Passport back story

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

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

Recreation Passport rationale, structure

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

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

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

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

a man riding a mountain bike on the DTE Trail

Nonresident Recreation Passport fee

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

See where it can take you

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

Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports, protects and provides easy, affordable access to the great outdoors at


Interactive Map Highlights Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Their Lore

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

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

The app map offers information about each ship, including:

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

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

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

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

Visit and explore both the story map and public web app at


Business Partnerships Available in State Parks, Harbors

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

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

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

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

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


State Park Campground Hosts Connect With Visitors, Camp For Free

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

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

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

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



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

DNR Public News is published here as a courtesy and does not represent the views or intent of the ownership of Carroll Broadcasting.

Copyright © 2019 Carroll Broadcasting, Inc., All rights reserved.


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