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Electronic Forest Inventory System Wins National Recognition

Michigan’s foresters are saving time, effort and paper when they conduct inventories of state forest resources.

Staffers use computers to inventory forests.10OCT17-The web-enabled Michigan Forest Inventory system – called “MiFI” for short – replaces previous, cumbersome data-recording systems with computer tablets when foresters are working in the woods. The innovative system earlier this month won a top award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. 
“We have 80-plus field staff out on the ground with a Panasonic Toughpad instead of using paper data sheets,” said Brian Maki, natural resources manager in the Geographic Information Systems unit of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Resources Division. He accepted the award Oct. 2 at the association’s annual conference in Texas.
The system was developed with assistance from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. It wasn’t Michigan’s only award-winner in the NASCIO competition. The state’s work in training a corps of volunteer civilians to assist in cyber emergencies also won a top honor. Projects to improve Michigan State Police analytics and to establish a single login identity for users of multiple online resources also were recognized as finalists out of more than 100 entries from 31 states and the District of Columbia.

DNR staff inventory 10 percent of the 4 million acres of state forest each year, which allows for a comprehensive review every 10 years. The system of recording inventory data on paper could take up to 40 percent of a forester’s time. An electronic collection system introduced in 2012 was more effective, but difficult to use.
“What we needed was a more intuitive tool,” said Jason Stephens, DNR state forest inventory specialist. “We were kicking off the development of the more-efficient system at the same time.”
Data that used to be stored across two databases now is in one, and information is recorded only once instead of recorded in the field, then added to the database.
“Before we struggled to meet year-end deadlines in many areas, and needed more support staff,” Stephens said. “We’ve been able to lower the support needs and training levels while allowing the staff that were focused on those areas to diversify and take on other projects that have increased our abilities to be good stewards of the state forest.”
As part of forest inventory, foresters collect data in sample plots, including the number and diameters of different tree species present in the forest canopy and the types of trees present in the sub-canopy. 

Learn more about how Michigan manages its public forests at


DNR Offers Moose ‘Wildlife Through Forestry’ Forum in Ishpeming

Experts to discuss moose populations, disease and environmental concerns

Vince Crichton, an internationally-recognized expert on moose management and biology, will be speaking in Ishpeming Oct. 19.10OCT17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will offer the latest forum in its popular “Wildlife Through Forestry” series Thursday, October 19th in Ishpeming.
Vince Crichton, of Manitoba, an internationally-recognized expert on moose biology and management and one of Canada’s leading wildlife pathologists, will talk about moose populations and threats the Upper Peninsula herd faces, including chronic wasting disease – an always fatal neurological disease that kills deer, moose and elk.
Dean Beyer, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife research biologist, will discuss the status of the U.P. moose herd.
The forum will be from 6-9 p.m. EDT, Oct. 19 at the River Rocks Lanes and Banquet Center (formerly Red Rocks Lanes) in Ishpeming.
In addition, resource professionals will make themselves available to meet with the public one hour prior to the session (5-6 p.m. EDT) to discuss management of forest and wildlife resources.
“Since their reintroduction to the western Upper Peninsula in the mid-1980s, moose have remained one of the most popular wildlife species in the region,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “This will be a fascinating session, allowing attendees to learn more about these beautiful animals and those factors that affect population growth.”

With funding from a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant, the DNR has been offering “Wildlife Through Forestry” forums over the past few months.
This is the fifth forum in the DNR’s highly-successful series, which began earlier this year, in the western Upper Peninsula. These forums link wildlife topics to the numerous ways habitat may be developed and enhanced for a range of species on private lands.
Biographical Information-Vince Crichton, known as “Doc Moose,” was born in Chapleau, Ontario and followed the footsteps of his father into the wildlife field. He studied wildlife diseases, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Manitoba and his doctorate at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
In 2012, Crichton retired from Manitoba’s Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch after a career that spanned 40 years. He worked in various capacities including eastern region wildlife biologist, head of surveys and inventories, provincial moose, elk and caribou biologist, forest wildlife biologist, forest tundra wildlife manager, senior scientist and manager for game, fur and problem wildlife.
Crichton has been published in various scientific journals, popular magazines and he wrote two chapters in “The Ecology and Management of the North American Moose.” He is past editor, and currently associate editor, of “ALCES: A Journal Devoted to the Biology and Management of Moose.” He is also a member of editorial panels for various other journals and is co-editor of “The Moose Call” newsletter.
He is past president of the Manitoba Big Game Trophy Association and is currently Canadian vice president of the North American Moose Foundation.
He is a hunter, conservationist, university lecturer, guest speaker and amateur photographer. He was awarded the “Distinguished Moose Biologist Award” by his peers. In September 2016, he was co-chairman of the 50th North American Moose Conference/8th International Moose Symposium in Brandon, Manitoba. There, he was presented with a special award for his long-time contributions to North American moose conferences and international symposia.

Dean Beyer, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife research biologist, will discuss Upper Peninsula moose in Ishpeming Oct. 19.Dean Beyer is a wildlife research biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and an adjunct professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. He received earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Vermont and his master’s degree and doctorate in wildlife ecology from Michigan State. His research interests include population dynamics of large mammals, abundance estimation, and predator-prey interactions.
Contacts-Each of the “Wildlife Through Forestry” forums has included a presentation on an interesting and important wildlife-related topic, with additional information provided to private landowners on the value of a Forest Stewardship Plan.
More than 150 professional foresters and 20 wildlife biologists develop Forest Stewardship Plans for forest landowners in Michigan. For information about these plans or the Commercial Forest Program, contact Gary Willis, DNR Service Forester, 427 U.S. 41 North, Baraga, Michigan, 49908; 906-353-6651, ext. 122 or
Many county conservation districts in Michigan have foresters on staff available for a free site visit to private landowner properties. They can discuss landowner wildlife habitat and forestry goals and help decide if there are financial assistance programs that can provide cost sharing for resource management plan preparation and implementation.

In Marquette County, contact Matt Watkeys, district forester, with the Marquette County Conservation District, at 906-226-8871, ext. 128 or

For more information on moose in Michigan, visit or to find out more on forest stewardship visit


DNR Offers Business Opportunities in Michigan State Parks

10OCT17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced several business opportunities for operating concessions to provide goods and/or services in several Michigan state parks and other DNR facilities.
Those interested can visit to view the list of current opportunities. 
“The services that concessionaires offer at Michigan's state parks are vital to the overall visitor experience," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "Whether it's food options, watercraft or bike rentals, campground stores or other amenities, these small business owners operating within our park system bring real value and choices to visitors."

The DNR currently is seeking operators for the following concessions:

bullet Belle Isle Park bagged ice sales
bullet Belle Isle Park giant slide
bullet Burt Lake State Park beach concession
bullet Copper Harbor lighthouse tours and store concession
bullet Grayhaven Marina watercraft rentals and tours 
bullet Holly Recreation Area aqua park concession
bullet Island Lake Recreation Area kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals
bullet Little Presque Isle Recreation Area mobile food concession 
bullet Tawas Point State Park canoe, kayak, paddleboard, bike rental concession
bullet Van Riper State Park aqua park and beach concession
bullet Waterloo Recreation Area beach and campground store
bullet Yankee Springs Recreation Area beach store and inflatable water slide concession

Bid lettings are set for each of these concessions and continue to be set for other opportunities as they become available. Concessionaires have the ability to enter into a contract for up to seven years. The expectation of the DNR is that interested concessionaires would have prior business experience and adequate working capital to fund the desired concession.
The DNR will make arrangements to visit concession sites with interested bidders. For more information about concession opportunities at Michigan state parks, contact Lori Ruff, concession and lease manger for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, at 989-275-5151 or


Learning About Michigan’s Sensational Upland Habitats

By HOLLY VAUGHN-Michigan Department of Natural Resources

07OCT17-Michigan is home to a wide variety of spectacular habitat types.
Among these, perhaps one of the most important categories is upland habitat, which offers countless recreation opportunities for the fall leaf peeper, mushroom hunter, birdwatcher, hiker, hunter, beachgoer, camper and others.
Michigan’s upland habitats can be broken up into four broad categories – dunes, deciduous forests, coniferous forests and grasslands.

Beach dune areas, like here at the mouth of the Two-Hearted River in Luce County, can be fragile environments.Dunes

Michigan boasts 275,000 acres of freshwater coastal dunes – more than any other state in the nation. These dunes were formed 4,000-6,000 years ago as the glaciers that once covered our region melted.
Michigan’s freshwater coastal dune ecosystem is characterized by sand, and lots of it. Occurring mainly along the Lake Michigan shoreline, coastal dune ecosystems are dynamic and fragile. Dune ecosystems are home to many plant and wildlife species, including a high concentration of threatened and endangered species.
These species face a range of threats.
Pitcher’s thistle, Houghton’s goldenrod, Lake Huron tansy, and the Dwarf Lake iris are threatened and endangered plant species that grow in coastal dunes. They can be easily trampled by recreationists and negatively impacted by coastal development.
The endangered piping plover nests on Michigan’s coastal dunes. These diminutive brown and white shorebirds blend in easily with sandy beaches. The Great Lakes population of piping plovers has declined over the last several decades due to habitat destruction from human and commercial development and human encroachment on the plovers’ nesting grounds.

Another factor leading to the decline of the piping plover is the increase of human-tolerant predators like gulls, raccoons, feral cats and skunks.
These ever-changing ecosystems are great to visit for a wide range of recreation, from beachcombing to birdwatching. However, to preserve these beautiful dune communities and the valuable plants and animals that thrive there, we need to take a few precautions.

bulletWhenever possible, stick to designated trails when hiking in dune ecosystems.
bulletAlways check the rules regarding off-road vehicle access to dune areas.
bulletDune plants are easily uprooted by foot and vehicle traffic which can disrupt natural plant and animal communities.
bulletWatch the beach sands while you walk to avoid plover nests and eggs.

piping plover on beachDeciduous Forests

Michigan’s deciduous forests are characterized by tree species that lose their leaves in the autumn. These forests provide spectacular displays of color in the fall and attract thousands of tourists to the state. In addition, the forest resources industry is an important part of Michigan’s economy.
Four of the most common deciduous forest types in the state are beech-sugar maple forests, northern hardwoods, aspen/young forests and oak-hickory forests.
Beech-sugar maple forests are found mainly in southern Michigan and are characterized by moist soil, long growing seasons, high nutrient availability, and beech, sugar maple and red maple trees. Other trees that commonly grow in the beech-sugar maple forest are walnut, tuliptree, aspen, black cherry, ash and basswood.
Northern hardwoods are like beech-sugar maple forests, but they occur farther north, where the growing season is a bit shorter. Eastern hemlocks, white pines, yellow birches and northern white cedars are commonly mixed in with the beech, maple, ash, black cherry and basswoods of the beech-sugar maple forests.
Aspen forests are most often found in northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula and are dominated by trembling (quaking) aspen and big-toothed aspen, both of which are shade-intolerant, fast growing and short-lived. Other trees associated with the aspen community include white birch, balsam fir, pin cherry, red maple, and white and red pine.

Deciduous forests produce fall color displays sought by a wide range of leaf peepers from Michigan and out of state.Young forests can be an old field growing up in saplings, a shrubby wetland or new trees springing up after recent logging. Aspen is a key component of a young forest. Many wild animals need young forest habitat. A couple of these include ruffed grouse and American woodcock, both prized by hunters.
Conservationists and landowners create young forests by mimicking natural disturbance events using timber harvests, mowing, shrub and tree planting, and controlled burning, all of which stimulate the dense regrowth of small trees and shrubs.
Aspen is a valuable timber tree. It springs up thickly following logging, creating excellent habitat for wildlife.
Oak-hickory forests occur on well-drained soils in southern Michigan. These drought- and fire-tolerant species survive in some of the driest forest soils in Michigan. Shagbark, bitternut and pignut hickories along with white, red, pin and black oaks commonly grow in oak-hickory forests. The dry soils exclude species like maple, beech and ash which need moist, well-drained soils.
“These deciduous forests support many wildlife species. The nuts and acorns from oak, walnut, beech and maple trees are an important food source for deer, turkeys, bears, wood ducks, squirrels and many other species,” said Al Stewart, upland game bird specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Young deciduous forests with plenty of aspen are favored by grouse, woodcock, deer, elk and turkeys.”

Coniferous Forests

Blueberries are one plant species typically found in jack pine habitat.Michigan’s pine forests are found mostly in the northern portions of the state. Northern lower Michigan is known for its jack pine and pine-oak forests, while the Upper Peninsula has a large swath of spruce-fir forests, otherwise known as boreal forest.
Jack pine forests occur in the northeastern Lower Peninsula on extremely dry and nutrient-poor sandy soils. Fire-tolerant jack pines have cones that require fire or intense heat to open them and spread their seeds.
These forests are home to the Kirtland’s warbler, which is among the rarest wood warblers in North America. It nests mainly in young jack pine forests on public lands near the AuSable River drainage and winters in the Bahamas.
Kirtland’s warblers have very specific habitat requirements; they prefer large blocks of young jack pine, usually hundreds of acres in size. The Kirtland’s warbler is a ground-nester, often using the living branches of 5- to 20-foot tall jack pine trees to conceal its nests.
Because of these specific requirements, stands of jack pine trees must be actively managed. Large areas of sandy soils are planted with jack pine and then cut decades later, on specific intervals, to achieve the perfect-aged stands.
“The result of this forest management has been a marvelous comeback of this beautiful bird species,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer.

Kirtland's warbler in jack pine treePine-oak forests are made up largely of red and white pines, several varieties of oak, aspen and, in some areas, red maple. These forests also thrive on dry, sandy soils and are fairly fire-tolerant. This forest type can largely be found in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.
Boreal forests are made up largely of spruce and fir trees that thrive on the acidic, poorly drained, rocky soils of the northern shore of the Upper Peninsula. Ravens, wolves, snowshoe hares, ruffed grouse and deer can be found in this habitat.


Southern Michigan, once upon a time, had a bounty of prairie land. In the last 150
years, however, grasslands have become increasingly rare due to the conversion of prairie land to agriculture and other development.
Grasslands are, of course, characterized by grass, which form most of the plant life here. Natural grazing, wildfires and periodic drought help to keep woody plants from establishing and growing in grasslands.
The soil in grasslands is nutrient-rich from the growth and decay of deep grass roots.Grasslands are stunning when in full bloom in summertime (Photo by Pete Berthelsen).

Grasslands are important partners in the filtration and purification of our air and water resources. They have deep, dense root systems. Grasslands trap precipitation so that water can percolate down into the soil, where it can be cleaned and filtered.
In addition to the important water purification that occurs in grasslands, these areas also improve air quality. Native grasses take in carbon dioxide and give off clean oxygen.
Native grassland vegetation also traps carbon. When the 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 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 Michigan’s grasslands. A variety of songbirds use the grasses for nesting and feeding including red-winged blackbirds, savannah sparrows, ring-necked pheasants, bobolinks 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.”

With Michigan’s wealth of available upland habitats, there’s likely one not far from home. Take some time this fall to explore an upland ecosystem - there’s a world of wonder there waiting to be discovered.

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


Lab Confirms Montcalm County Deer had Chronic Wasting Disease

With archery hunting season under way, DNR urges all hunters to take harvested deer to area check stations

07OCT17-The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed Wednesday that a 3 1/2-year-old female deer taken during Michigan’s youth deer hunting season in September has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
The animal, harvested in Montcalm Township in Montcalm County, is the 10th free-ranging deer in Michigan found to have chronic wasting disease. The youth hunter who harvested the deer opted to take the animal to a Department of Natural Resources deer check station and then submitted the animal for testing – steps the DNR strongly encourages hunters across the state to take during the 2017 deer hunting seasons.
“Because this family decided to bring their deer to a DNR deer check station, state wildlife managers were able to gain important information about chronic wasting disease in mid-Michigan,” said Dr. Kelly Straka, DNR state wildlife veterinarian. “As we move through the archery and firearm seasons, voluntary deer testing will be critical not only within the currently affected areas, but also throughout the south-central Lower Peninsula and the entire state.”

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated with these fluids or the carcass of a diseased animal. 
Some CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected for many years without showing internal or external symptoms. There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die. 
Since May 2015, the DNR has actively conducted surveillance for CWD. To date, more than 14,000 deer have been tested since the first positive case was found, with 10 cases of CWD confirmed in free-ranging white-tailed deer identified in Clinton, Ingham and (now) Montcalm counties.
To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents any known risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals. 
As additional deer have tested positive for CWD within Michigan, the DNR has put specific regulations in place. Currently, there are two CWD Core Areas, which are deer management units (DMUs) 333 and 359. To review regulations related to those areas, visit

With Wednesday’s confirmation of chronic wasting disease in the Montcalm County deer, DNR Director Keith Creagh has signed an interim order (effective Oct. 4, 2017, through March 29, 2018) outlining next steps as governed by Michigan’s CWD Response and Surveillance Plan. The order:

bulletCreates a nine-township Core Area that includes Douglass, Eureka, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine and Sidney townships in Montcalm County, and Oakfield and Spencer townships in Kent County. Within the Core Area specifically:
bulletInstitutes mandatory registration of deer at a check station within 5 miles of the new Core CWD Area, within 72 hours of harvest, starting Nov. 15. (Available stations currently are at Flat River State Game Area and Howard City.)
bulletRemoves antler point restrictions for the restricted tag of the combo deer license within the nine-township Core Area.
bulletAllows antlerless deer to be tagged using the deer or deer combo license(s) during the firearm, muzzleloader and late antlerless seasons.
bulletInstitutes mandatory submission of the head for testing of a road-killed deer within 72 hours of pick-up.
bulletAllows disease control permits, effective immediately, for landowners with five or more acres within the nine-township Core Area.
bulletBans the feeding and baiting of deer in Kent and Montcalm counties, effective Jan. 2, 2018, and encourages hunters not to bait and feed in these areas immediately.

The DNR will work with the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to make the order permanent, adjusting as needed in response to the evolving situation.
“In Michigan, there are 338 deer farms, regulated jointly by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the DNR. MDARD is working with the farms that are within a 15-mile surveillance zone to ensure compliance with CWD testing requirements, implement increased inspections and monitor animal movement,” said MDARD State Veterinarian James Averill. “All regulated deer farms participate in the state’s CWD testing program; however, farms outside the surveillance zone will not have additional requirements.”
Starting Nov. 1, several new deer check stations near the new Core Area will accept deer for CWD testing. Archery hunters are strongly encouraged to have their deer checked at existing check stations during the early archery season.

A complete list of check stations, including locations and hours, as well as weekly CWD updates, are available at


Opening of New Non-Motorized Trail Celebrated in Keweenaw County

New section of Keweenaw Point Trail is second part of a three-phase trail development

A group of mountain bikers and others gathered Thursday at High Rock Bay to celebrate the opening of a new section of the Keweenaw Point Trail.06OCT17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Copper Harbor Trails Club celebrated the opening of a new 6-mile section of the Keweenaw Point Trail today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held southeast of Copper Harbor at High Rock Bay.
Work on this second phase of a more than 30-mile backcountry non-motorized, multi-use trail began in 2015. The new Mandan Road to High Rock Bay trail segment connects the scenic point at High Rock Bay with Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.
“Completion of this portion of trail puts another piece in place toward completing the entire Keweenaw Point Trail,” said Lori Hauswirth, executive director of the Copper Harbor Trails Club. “This trail will not only provide great non-motorized recreation opportunities, but also a boost to the local economies of the Keweenaw.”
Funding for this $83,000 phase of the project was funded through private donations, fundraising events and the Steven C. Leuthold Family Foundation.
Development of the trail has been in partnership with the Copper Harbor Trails Club, which will manage the trail. The DNR was involved with planning, approvals and other tasks.
“We are just thrilled to be working in partnership with the Copper Harbor Trails Club,” said Ron Yesney, DNR Upper Peninsula trails coordinator. “They are a great organization. They get stuff done.”

Lori Hauswirth, executive director of the Copper Harbor Trail Club, and DNR U.P. trails coordinator Ron Yesney pose for a photo along the trail.The entire Keweenaw Point Trail Project – a loop from High Rock Bay to Montreal – will highlight points of interest and the beautiful landscapes located near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The new trail will also fill a need for a backcountry single-track trail open to all non-motorized uses, and add to the existing Copper Harbor Trail System. Single-track trails require mountain bikers to ride in single file and conform to the natural environment, with routing around rocks, trees and bushes.

“This new trail segment will help provide users with a remote trail experience,” Yesney said. “Connecting to the state park at Fort Wilkins will also make campgrounds available along the route, allowing users to plan longer trips to explore the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.”


A rider enjoys a ride on the new section of the Keweenaw Point Trail Thursday in Keweenaw County.In 2003, the state of Michigan, in a partnership with the Nature Conservancy, acquired 6,275 acres of land in the area to preserve public access and prevent private development.
The acquisition boosted the state’s land ownership near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to 8,387 acres.
In the months that followed, the DNR convened the Keweenaw Point Citizen Advisory Council, which collected the views of a wide range of those interested in trail use and development in the area.
In autumn 2004, the council’s report was issued. One of the primary recommendations of the group was for the DNR to work with local groups to design, develop and maintain trails to connect non-motorized trails already established in the area, including the Copper Harbor, Estivant Pines and Horseshoe Harbor trails.
The Copper Harbor Trails Club has been the lead group in partnering with the DNR to develop the Keweenaw Point Trail. This larger trail will be a shoreline trail that runs from Mandan Road at the Montreal River, south to the river’s mouth at Lake Superior, then east along the shoreline, past High Rock Bay to Schlatter Lake, north to Horseshoe Harbor to reconnect with Mandan Road south of Lake Fanny Hooe.

Phase One

The first phase of the trail’s development, which covered 2.5 miles, was completed in 2015. That project, running from Manganese Road to Mandan Road, consists of rugged single-track trail near Lake Fanny Hooe.
Funding for the initial $83,000 construction phase was provided by grants from the DNR, the Plum Creek Foundation and the Steven C. Leuthold Foundation and Copper Harbor Trail Club fundraising efforts.

Phase Two

Phase two consists of a combination of existing two-tracks with new single-track construction. The trail section runs east along Mandan Road, then north on Horseshoe Harbor Road, east again and then south on Camp Manitou Road. At this point, the new single-track segment of the trail was built to High Rock Bay.

Phase Three

A proposed third phase of construction would run from High Rock Bay south and east to Montreal. The trail route has been approved by the DNR. Some funding for construction has been secured through a DNR recreational trails program grant. Additional money needs to be procured. The estimated cost for this phase of trail construction is $497,000.
“We are excited to celebrate this latest accomplishment in the development of the Keweenaw Point Trail today,” said John Pepin, deputy public information officer. “With this milestone we move one step closer to completion of this great new trail, another testament to Michigan’s national reputation as The Trails State.”

For more information on trails in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage 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


If You Love Fall Fun, Leave Firewood at Home

Buy locally at your destination to prevent the spread of invasive species

view of a park campground with trees cut and cleared06OCT17-As you prepare to hit the road for your favorite fall recreation activities, the Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development remind you to play it safe by leaving firewood at home.
October is Firewood Awareness Month, and the departments are joining with The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to encourage everyone to buy firewood near where they will burn it to prevent starting a new infestation of an invasive insect or disease.
“Michigan’s forests and urban landscapes have already been decimated by Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer and gypsy moth. Now we are battling oak wilt and beech bark disease,” said John Bedford, pest response program specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Thousand cankers disease of walnut and the Asian longhorned beetle, which attacks maples and several other hardwood species, are both as nearby as Ohio. These tree killers could be just one bundle of firewood away.”
Joanne Foreman, DNR invasive species communications coordinator, said that some of the best fall activities in Michigan rely on the health of forests.
“If you enjoy the fall colors up north or like to hunt, fish or hike, imagine what your destination would be like with one less tree species,” she said.

“On their own, these insects and diseases can’t travel very far, but they can travel hundreds of miles on firewood,” said Sue Tangora, DNR forest health and cooperative programs section supervisor. “Trees cut for firewood often died due to insects or disease. Why risk carrying oak wilt to your cabin or beech bark disease to your favorite camping spot?”
If you buy firewood and don’t burn it all, don’t take it home with you or to your next destination.
Wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungi spores that will start a new and deadly infestation.

Many state parks already affected

According to Heidi Frei, a DNR natural resources steward, many state parks throughout Michigan already are showing the effects of unchecked invasive species.
“Otsego Lake, South Higgins Lake, Interlochen, Warren Dunes, Hartwick Pines, Waterloo, Brighton and Island Lake are just a few of the Michigan state parks and recreation areas that have been hit hard by invasive forest pests,” Frei said.
“For example, over the last six years, more than 500 trees in P.J. Hoffmaster State Park have been lost to oak wilt,” she said. “The campground, which once was home to beautiful, mature red oaks, had to be almost entirely clear-cut because of infestation. That resulted in the loss of campsites surrounded by the forest canopy, important wildlife habitat and much-needed shade.”
Frei said those are clear reminders about the importance of not moving firewood and of using only certified wood.

Certified is the best choice

closeup view of wood bundle with certified labelCertified firewood that has been heat-treated to USDA certification standards – 140 degrees Fahrenheit at the core for at least one hour – is safe to transport within and beyond Michigan’s borders. Certified wood will bear a USDA compliance stamp or a state-based (such as a State Department of Agriculture) heat treatment stamp and be clearly marked with the producer’s name and address.
Always leave your firewood at home, even if you think the firewood looks fine. If certified firewood is not available, purchase your firewood as close as possible to where you will be using it. Ask the seller where they got the wood. If it isn’t nearby, or if they don’t know where the wood is from, consider another firewood dealer. 
Those worried about firewood availability at their destinations can visit to find nearby vendors. Since costs can vary, call ahead to find the best deal.
“Remember, you can still have a roaring campfire or a cozy night in front of the fireplace and continue to enjoy Michigan’s unique beauty for decades to come by making wise firewood decisions now," Foreman said.

For more information and FAQs on the risks associated with firewood movement, visit

Michigan firewood facts are available on the MDARD website, and more information about invasive pests and diseases threatening Michigan’s trees is available at


Seasonal Sturgeon Release Puts Nearly 6,000 Into Michigan Waters

05OCT17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and several partners released nearly 6,000 juvenile lake sturgeon into various public waters across the state this summer and fall in an effort to rehabilitate this culturally significant fish species.
The table below shows which agencies stocked fish, how many were stocked, and the date and location of each stocking effort.

 Agencies Number of Stocked Fish Date Stocked Location Stocked
Michigan DNR & Michigan State University 549 Aug. 19 Black Lake (Cheboygan County)
Michigan DNR & Michigan State University 2,261 May 26 Lower Black River (Cheboygan County)
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians 601 Sept. 7 Burt Lake/Sturgeon River (Cheboygan County)
Michigan DNR & Michigan State University 740 Sept. 19 Mullet Lake (Cheboygan County)
Michigan DNR 302 Sept. 8 Cedar River (Menominee County)
Michigan DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Gun Lake Tribe 2 July 25 Kalamazoo River (Allegan County)
Michigan DNR 72 Sept. 11 Whitefish River (Delta County)
Michigan DNR & U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1,261 Sept. 19 Ontonagon River (Ontonagon County)
Michigan DNR & Michigan State University 193 Aug. 21 Tittabawassee River (Midland County)
Total Lake Sturgeon Stocked: 5,981    

Juvenile lake sturgeon were collected from the wild during April and May and reared in streamside facilities until they were large enough to tag. Most fish were tagged prior to being released into their respective rivers to allow future evaluations of stocked fish.
“Many of these stocking efforts were public events that shined a spotlight on how important lake sturgeon are to Michigan,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “Our state has a long history with the lake sturgeon, and working with our partners helps us protect them for future generations.”
The lake sturgeon is on the Threatened Species list in Michigan, and these annual stocking efforts are critical to restoring the state’s lake sturgeon population. It takes the work of many partners to secure funding and resources to make restoration possible. Partners include the DNR, the Black Lake chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, the Kalamazoo River chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish band of Pottawatomi Indians, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan State University, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

For more information about lake sturgeon, visit


DNR Conducting 48th Annual Les Cheneaux Islands Fish Survey

RV Tanner conducting fish community survey12SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources this week will survey the channels and bays of the Les Cheneaux Islands, along the Lake Huron shoreline on the Upper Peninsula's southeastern tip. Survey nets will be fished at sampling stations throughout the island chain to collect specimens representative of the overall fish community. The DNR has performed this survey every year since 1969; it is one of the longest continuous surveys in the Great Lakes.
"We’ll count each fish by species and weigh and measure them,” said Dave Fielder, DNR fisheries research biologist out of Alpena. “We’ll also collect spines from some species to allow us to age the fish.”
The data collected will be used to describe the health of the different fish populations and to compare to past years to determine trends.
The DNR is particularly interested in determining the status of the local yellow perch population through this survey. This population has been intensively managed, particularly in response to the corresponding management of cormorants. Cormorants have been managed to benefit the yellow perch fishery since 2004 in a joint effort between the DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. Cormorant management was suspended by federal court action in 2016, and fish population monitoring will be important to documenting any changes to the fish community.

The fish community netting survey will take about one week to complete and will be conducted by staff from the DNR’s Alpena Fisheries Research Station using the R/V Tanner. Results will be made available to the public in a presentation in Cedarville in April 2018.


Tell Us What You Think: Comment on recommendations for ORV use on state forest roads for northern lower Michigan

03OCT17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is welcoming comments on revised recommendations 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 revised recommendations incorporate public input received in June and July. They will be discussed at Natural Resources Commission meetings Oct. 12 in Alpena and Nov. 9 in Lansing. DNR Director Keith Creagh will make a final decision at the Dec. 14 NRC meeting.

Public input will be accepted as the process continues. In-person comments will be accepted at all three NRC meetings. Mail, email and online comments will be accepted until November 16th:

bulletSend emails to
bulletSend mail to DNR Roads Inventory Project, P.O. Box 456, Vanderbilt, MI 49795.
bulletVisit to comment online. Instructions are available on the website.

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.

For more information about the state forest road inventory and recommendation process, visit For more information about trails in Michigan and to sign up for trail email updates, visit


Annual Lake Erie Walleye Assessment Scheduled for this Month

Example of double cone-day shape to look for on Lake Erie08OCT17-The Department of Natural Resources will conduct its annual walleye assessment in the west basin of Lake Erie near Monroe, Michigan, beginning Oct. 9 and continuing through October 13th.
“This survey is a cornerstone of the DNR’s annual efforts to assess the walleye fishery in Lake Erie,” said Todd Wills, the DNR's Lake Huron-Lake Erie area fisheries research manager. “The data from this survey are essential for the DNR and its partner agencies to estimate walleye abundance throughout the west and central basins of Lake Erie. These estimates help determine the daily possession limits for anglers who fish for walleye in Michigan waters.”
The fall walleye assessment will be completed by DNR fisheries staff aboard the research vessel (R/V) Channel Cat, which has a home port at the Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station in Harrison Township. Gill nets are fished near Stoney Point and Luna Pier and are marked with a large, orange staff buoy on each end with a number of small, round floats in between. The 1,300-foot-long nets are suspended in the water column, fished overnight and then hauled aboard the Channel Cat where the catch is sorted, identified and measured. A sample of the dorsal fin spine is taken from all walleye to determine their age.

The DNR reminds anglers and boaters to avoid navigating in between the staff buoys to prevent entanglement in the nets and to give the Channel Cat room to maneuver while it is actively lifting and setting the gear, which is indicated by displaying a double-cone day shape from a mast on its roof.
The DNR shares the information collected from all of its annual Lake Erie survey efforts with partner agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario through annual meetings fostered by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Collaboration through the commission’s Lake Erie Committee supports fisheries management efforts across the Lake Erie basin.

For more information about the survey, contact Todd Wills at 586-465-4771, ext. 22 or


2017 Wildlife Habitat Grant Recipients Announced

03OCT17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced the recipients of the 2017 Wildlife Habitat Grants. A total of $998,000 was awarded to various conservation organizations, units of government, landowners and nonprofit organizations for projects to be completed by Sept. 30, 2019.
Examples of funded projects include enhancement of large wetland complexes, winter deer complexes, mast-producing food sources, forest openings, oak savanna and small game habitat.

The successful applicants, the counties in which their habitat projects will take place and the amounts awarded are:

bulletAllegan Conservation District (Allegan), $85,600
bulletBarry Conservation District (Barry), $143,900
bulletChippewa Nature Center (Midland), $33,800
bulletClinton Conservation District (Clinton), $56,100
bulletDucks Unlimited (Saginaw), $250,000
bulletFish Point Wildlife Association (Tuscola), $116,500
bulletGratiot Conservation District (Gratiot), $49,300
bulletIosco Conservation District (Iosco), $15,300
bulletLand Ethics (Iosco), $69,300
bulletMuskegon Conservation District (Muskegon), $61,600
bulletRuffed Grouse Society (Lake, Mason, Newaygo, Oceana), $101,600
bulletU.P. Whitetails Association (Delta), $15,000

The Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, which began in October 2013, is funded with a portion of the revenue from hunting and fishing licenses sold each year. The DNR administers the grant program through a cooperative effort between the department’s Wildlife Division and Grants Management Section.

The grant program’s main objective is to enhance and improve the quality and quantity of game species habitat in support of a specific goal from the DNR Wildlife Division’s strategic plan.

To learn more about the Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, visit or


Youth Hunter’s Deer, Taken in Montcalm County, Suspected Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

03OCT17-A 3 ½-year-old female deer taken during Michigan’s youth deer hunting season is likely to be the 10th free-ranging deer in the state found to have chronic wasting disease. The animal was harvested in Montcalm Township in Montcalm County, and preliminary tests indicate the animal may be positive for CWD. The DNR is awaiting final confirmation from the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
The suspect deer was harvested by a youth hunter during the September youth season. The hunter voluntarily took the animal to a DNR deer check station and submitted the animal for testing.
“We cannot thank this family enough for bringing their deer to a check station,” said Dr. Kelly Straka, DNR state wildlife veterinarian. “Without their effort, the disease may have gone undetected in this area. We encourage hunters from any part of the state, especially the south-central Lower Peninsula, to have their deer tested."
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated with these fluids or the carcass of a diseased animal. 
Some CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected for many years without showing internal or external symptoms. There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die. 
“Infected deer don’t necessarily look sick,” Straka said. “Having your deer tested is the only way to know if it has chronic wasting disease.”
Since May 2015, the DNR has actively conducted surveillance for CWD. To date, more than 14,000 deer have been tested since the first positive case was found, with nine cases of CWD confirmed in free-ranging white-tailed deer previously identified in Ingham and Clinton counties.
To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals. 
As additional deer have tested positive for CWD within Michigan, the DNR has put specific regulations in place. Currently, there are two CWD Core Areas, which are deer management units (DMUs) 333 and 359. To review regulations related to those areas, visit

Regarding this new suspect positive deer, the DNR is determining next steps as outlined in the CWD Response and Surveillance Plan. Proposed recommendations include:

bulletCreating a nine-township Core Area that would include Douglass, Eureka, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine and Sidney townships in Montcalm County, and Oakfield and Spencer townships in Kent County. Within the Core Area specifically:
bulletInstituting mandatory registration of deer within 72 hours of harvest, starting Nov. 15.
bulletRemoving antler point restrictions for the restricted tag of the combo deer license if license is used within the nine-township Core Area.
bulletAllowing antlerless deer to be tagged using the deer or deer combo license(s) during the firearm, muzzleloader and late antlerless seasons.
bulletAllowing the public to pick up road-killed deer and allow them to be possessed with a salvage tag if the deer head is submitted for testing within 72 hours of pick-up.
bulletAllowing disease control permits, effective immediately, for landowners with five or more acres within the nine-township Core Area.
bulletBanning the feeding and baiting of deer in Kent and Montcalm counties, effective Jan. 2, 2018, and encouraging hunters not to bait and feed in these areas immediately.

“With some hunting seasons already under way, we are not recommending that a new deer management unit be created for the area at this time,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist. “If you purchase or have purchased licenses for DMUs 354 or 341, they can be used in the new Core Area, but it’s critical for hunters to follow the final regulations related to those nine townships.”

Starting Nov. 1, several new check stations near the new Core Area will accept deer for CWD testing. Archery hunters are strongly encouraged to have their deer checked at existing check stations during the early archery season.

A complete list of check stations, including locations and hours, as well as weekly CWD updates, are available at


DNR to Temporarily Close Nahma Boating Access Site in Delta County

Boat ramp replacement project will require closure beginning Oct. 3

30SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will temporarily close the DNR Nahma boat access site in southern Delta County, for a ramp replacement, beginning October 3rd.

The Nahma boating access site in Delta County will be temporarily closed Oct. 3 for a ramp replacement project.“The closure is anticipated to be in effect until Nov. 13,” said Randy Brown, park supervisor at Fayette Historic State Park. “If the weather cooperates, the contractor plans to complete the replacement within 2-3 weeks. We will issue a statement when the site reopens.”
The boating access site is located within the village of Nahma and provides access to Lake Michigan’s Big Bay de Noc.
During the closure, boaters can use nearby launches on the Fishdam River and at Garden or Ogontz bays.
Contact Randy Brown, Fayette Historic State Park supervisor, with questions at 906-644-2603.

For the latest information on this and other DNR closures, visit the DNR’s closure and re-openings webpage.

For more information on boating in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at:

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

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Subscribe now.

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 - Next Round of Dam Management Grant Program Funds

Opportunity for assistance in addressing dam removals and critical dam maintenance

30SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced its Dam Management Grant Program is now open for proposals. The sixth year of this grant opportunity will award $350,000 in 2018 to address Michigan’s failing dam infrastructure through dam removals and critical repair/maintenance. Since inception of the program, more than $6.75 million has been allocated to 19 projects.
The DNR’s Dam Management Grant Program is focused on the growing issue of abandoned, unused or hazardous dams in Michigan. The purpose of the program is to provide funding and technical assistance to local and state units of government, nonprofit groups and individuals to manage dam removals or repair/major maintenance projects. Selected projects should not only enhance aquatic resources and fishing opportunities, but also reduce infrastructure costs and improve public safety.
There is an online application process for prospective applicants. Interested parties first will need to register with MiRecGrants. Once that registration has been approved by DNR Grants Management, the applicant can complete and submit their application. Access to MiRecGrants and more information about the Dam Management Grant Program can be found on the DNR website

Grant applications can be submitted through the MiRecGrants online application system until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, to be considered for the 2018 funding cycle. 


How Did Michigan’s AuSable River Change the World?

Find the answers at the Michigan History Museum’s newest exhibition, opening September 30th

museum exhibit section showing black and white cutout of Art Neumann29SEP17-In 1959, 16 fishermen, united by their love of trout and the Au Sable River, gathered at George Griffith’s home east of Grayling, in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. The sportsmen were concerned about the need for long-term conservation of Michigan’s coldwater streams. They were convinced that better and more scientific habitat care would help the state’s trout population thrive, creating not only better fishing, but also a better environment. Nearly 60 years later, Trout Unlimited, the organization founded by those fishermen, has become a national champion of fish habitat conservation.
Trout Unlimited’s founding on the Au Sable is showcased in the Michigan History Museum’s newest exhibition, The River that Changed the World, opening Saturday, Sept. 30. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, visitors will get a first look at the new exhibition, and opportunities to engage with guest presenters and hands-on activities.
“The Au Sable River has influenced – and continues to influence – people around the world,” said Mark Harvey, Michigan’s state archivist and the exhibition’s curator. “The stories in the exhibition demonstrate the innovative and unprecedented ways private citizens and state government worked together to conserve and protect the river and sustainably manage its fish populations.”

exhibit showing beakers used to raise fish from eggsThe exhibition features George Griffith’s 24-foot-long Au Sable river boat, surrounded by river scenes. A re-creation of the Wanigas Rod Shop introduces fly fisherman and rod maker Art Neumann, another founding member of Trout Unlimited. Nearby, visitors of all ages can learn how to tie a fly and compare tied flies to real insects under a microscope.
The exhibition also introduces the relationship between the Anishinaabe (Odawa and Ojibwe people) and the Au Sable River. It highlights how their use of the river changed with the seasons and includes tools and fish bones from an archaeological site along the river.
The late 19th-century work of state conservationists and private citizens who tried to save the Arctic grayling – the iconic native coldwater fish that once dominated northern Michigan streams – is represented by a “battery” of glass beakers from the Grayling fish hatchery. Each beaker held thousands of eggs. Arctic grayling were native only to Michigan and Montana in the lower 48 states.
Original paneling and artifacts from the Wolverine fish car, which carried millions of fish by rail across Michigan, tell the story of subsequent efforts to plant trout in the Au Sable. Fred Westerman, former fisheries chief in the Michigan Department of Conservation (the forerunner to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources) and one of the first employees of the Wolverine, once reported: “Frequently … thirty cans of fish would be dropped off at some spooky junction - like in the jack pine at Au Sable-Oscoda with the cemetery across the tracks and the depot a mile from town – on the night run of the Detroit & Mackinac, to await the morning train going up the river branch.”

closeup view of birchbark canoe exhibitThe exhibit’s final section presents Grayling as a destination for fishing and tourism since the mid-19th century. It combines competing interests and different perspectives on the future of the Au Sable, with an appreciation of the river’s recreational draw. In this section, visitors can sit in a kayak and experience a 360-degree, virtual reality paddle down the Au Sable, either by using an Oculus Rift headset or their own smart devices and cardboard viewers. At the end of the exhibition, visitors are invited share their stories about the rivers that they love and how they might work to protect them.
Current DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter agrees that the Au Sable is a premier outdoor fishing destination, and he applauds the vision and passion of the people who early on recognized that potential.
“As the name of the exhibit implies, the Au Sable is a world-class fishery resource attracting anglers from every corner of the earth. It’s one of the most stable groundwater-influenced watersheds in North America, and produces exceptional trout fishing,” Dexter said. “It wasn’t always that way, though. Without the creation of Trout Unlimited at the Au Sable River, by those who understood the potential of our coldwater resources, Michigan might not be home to one of the world’s greatest trout fisheries.”

The exhibition will run through next summer, and is included with regular museum admission. The Michigan History Museum is a nationally accredited museum located in the east wing of the Michigan Library and Historical Center, on the north side of Kalamazoo Street, two blocks east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard. The museum is open year-round, seven days a week. For more information, call 517-373-3559 or visit

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, and the Archives of Michigan.  Learn more at


Weirs: An Important DNR Tool to Manage Fisheries, Educate Public


The weir on the Little Manistee River in Manistee County is shown.29SEP17-Michigan is home to a tremendous Great Lakes sport fishery, which includes native lake trout, steelhead, brown trout and several varieties of salmon introduced to these freshwater inland seas in the 1960s or beforehand.
To maintain this fishery, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources relies on fish stocking with the help of eggs taken from spawning fish.
Steelhead (rainbow trout) and Chinook and coho salmon were introduced to the Great Lakes with fish stock taken from northern California in the case of steelhead, and from the Pacific Northwest for the salmon.
There, the fish were born in freshwater lakes and streams, then migrated to the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean, where they matured, before returning to spawn.
Once they were transplanted to Michigan, these fish continued to act on this instinct, but instead of migrating to salt water, they migrate to the Great Lakes.
Fish with this type of behavior are called anadromous fish.
To get eggs from salmon and steelhead for fish stocking, the DNR first needs to capture the fish. This is done by use of one of the most important parts of the DNR’s fish-stocking system: weirs.
“My definition of a weir is a removable dam,” said Aaron Switzer, the DNR’s Platte River State Fish Hatchery manager and weir coordinator. “There are two types of weirs: those that allow water to completely pass through but don’t allow fish to pass up and those that not only stop fish passage but impound water, too.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources workers net salmon at the Little Manistee River weir in Manistee County.“Our lower weir on the Platte River allows water to pass through but doesn’t allow fish to pass. It goes in Aug. 15 every year. What that does is it allows us to control the number of coho (salmon) that we let up from the lower weir.”
As part of a court-ordered consent decree, the DNR allows 20,000 coho salmon through the weir. After that, the remaining fish are harvested and marketed.
“The upper weir at the Platte River does back up the water at the upper weir – that’s like that so we can gravity feed the water into the building (where spawn and milt are collected) and maturation ponds,” Switzer said.
When fish reach the upper weir, they remain in a holding pond until fisheries biologists determine that the females’ eggs are ripe enough to be fertilized successfully.
“When the females are 75 percent ripe, it’s green light, let’s go,” Switzer said.
Usually, egg take begins around the second week of October.

Salmon stage in the Swan River below the weir.Overall, the DNR operates five weirs (six if you count the Platte River weirs as two) – on the Platte River in Benzie County, Little Manistee River in Manistee County, the Boardman River in downtown Traverse City in Grand Traverse County, the Swan River (on Lake Huron) in Presque Isle County and Medusa Creek near Charlevoix in Charlevoix County – and they all have different functions.
The Platte River facility is the DNR’s source of coho salmon eggs. The Little Manistee River weir is the prime source for Chinook salmon eggs and the only source for steelhead eggs. Any fall steelhead, brown trout or other fish that wind up in the Little Manistee River during Chinook egg take are allowed to pass upstream.
The Swan River facility has been considered a back-up facility for many years, but was used to procure Chinook eggs the last two years when there was an insufficient supply at the Little Manistee.
There’s a weir at the Boardman River that is not used for egg take at all.
“We just don’t get enough fish there to use it as back up,” Switzer said. “But it’s used to keep the fish from going upstream and dying in town. And we’ve used that for the last few years as an educational facility – a place to learn about salmon and how we manage them. It’s an educational facility as much as anything else.
“We get plenty of people through the Little Manistee, Platte and the Boardman. They’re all great places to educate the public and for the public to see us in operation.”
There is no public access at Swan River; the weir is on private property and access is restricted.

The weir at Medusa Creek is strictly a harvest facility. There is no physical facility there, but water is diverted from the creek into a holding pond where the fish collect.
“We can’t have all those mature salmon going up a creek that’s 2 feet wide running up into the cement plant,” Switzer said, though it could be a potential egg-take site in the future if necessary.
The lower weir at Platte takes about a half day’s work for a crew of four people to put it in and to remove it, Switzer said.
“The upper weir takes time,” he continued. “There are basically big steel boards that go in the channels in the concrete at the weir. We install it and take it out in stages so they don’t completely deplete downstream flow in installation and not let a big slug of water downstream all at once during removal.
“That process usually covers about two weeks.”
A Michigan Department of Natural Resources worker scoops salmon eggs into a container at the Platte River weir.
Switzer said the DNR usually installs the upper weir around Sept. 1 and it stays in place until July 15 “because we also use it to block steelhead and sea lamprey. Lamprey cannot get past it. It is an effective lamprey barrier.”
Sea lamprey, an invasive fish that preys on native lake trout, spawn in streams like the salmon and steelhead do.
Weirs allow the DNR to herd fish into one place and process them in a timely matter. Without weirs, DNR staff would be reduced to using nets or electro-fishing gear to collect fish. The process would be longer, more expensive and not nearly as effective.
The DNR does not operate any weirs in the Upper Peninsula.
Egg take at the Platte River occurs throughout October. It’s a popular school group and tourist attraction as it allows the public to see how the operation works. At the Little Manistee River, visitors are welcome during the fall Chinook and spring steelhead egg takes.
Staff members from the DNR’s Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center and Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center lead free fall tours at the Boardman River, Little Manistee River and Platte River weirs through mid-October.

Visitors can learn about salmon biology, how weirs and fish ladders work, invasive species, state fish hatcheries, and the DNR’s annual egg-collection efforts and their impact on Michigan’s fisheries.

For more information on tours, visit and click on the Boardman River Weir 2017 Programs or Platte River Weir 2017 Programs link, or visit and click on the Little Manistee River Weir 2017 Programs link.

To learn more about how the DNR manages Michigan’s fisheries, visit

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


Jack Pine Harvest in Brighton Will Provide Seeds Statewide

closeup view of Kirtland's warbler in jack pine branches28SEP17-About 33 acres of overgrown jack pine trees in Livingston County, Michigan, are being harvested to provide seeds for planting new trees across the state.
The trees are at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Tree Improvement Center near Brighton. The seed orchard is about 35 years old and the trees are too large to efficiently pick cones from, said Jason Hartman, silviculturist with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. Silviculture is the branch of forestry that focuses on the establishment, growth, composition, health and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values.
“There are some jack pine trees that we planted years ago for seed collection, and they’re overgrown,” Hartman said. “We couldn’t keep them pruned low enough where we could pick pine cones from the ground.”
Jack pine cones need heat to open. In natural conditions, that heat would come from a forest fire or sunlight. The DNR will pick pine cones from the cut trees and then heat them in kilns to release the seeds. The seeds will be used to plant seedlings and regenerate jack pine forests across the state. Timber from these felled trees also is being utilized by a local logger.
The DNR is looking for volunteers to help pick cones from the felled trees. Those interested in helping out should contact Jason Hartman at

Hartman said the DNR plans to replant the blocks of harvested pines on a staggered schedule so that the future seed orchard will contain trees of differing ages.
The Tree Improvement Center site was used as a state forest tree nursery starting in 1957; it was designated as the Tree Improvement Center in 1985. Its priority purpose is to grow cones and extract seeds, and the jack pines that currently are being harvested were planted specifically to provide a steady supply of seeds. 
A small part of the Tree Improvement Center property may be leased for a seedling nursery operation, which will utilize the seeds produced from adjacent orchards to grow seedlings that are planted throughout Michigan. The majority of the grounds will continue to be managed for cone and seed production by the DNR. 
The DNR plants about 3 million jack pine seedlings across the state each year. Jack pines grow in dry, sandy soils and provide habitat for a variety of animals including the endangered Kirtland's warbler, the spruce grouse, snowshoe hares and white-tailed deer. 

Learn more about the jack pine ecosystem on the Wildlife and Habitat section of the DNR website. 


DNR Trails Advisory Groups to Meet in Marquette October 10th - 11th 

28SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will facilitate three public meetings over two days next month in Marquette, providing the public with opportunities to have a voice in the creation, development, operation and maintenance of motorized and non-motorized trails in the state.

All meetings and work sessions will take place at the Staybridge Suites, 855 W. Washington St. in Marquette.

Tuesday, Oct. 10

bullet10 a.m. - The Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup and Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Workgroup will hold a joint meeting
bullet3 p.m. - The Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Workgroup will host a meeting.

Topics for the meetings will include, but are not limited to:

Handbook of Michigan ORV Laws/Safety Education Subcommittee.
Public Act 288 of 2016.
Carsonite installation update.
ORV permit sunset update.

The Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup assists the Michigan Trails Advisory Council in performing its duties and responsibilities and provides the DNR advice related to the snowmobile program, including the creation, development, operation and maintenance of the designated snowmobile trail system. The purpose of the Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Workgroup is to assist the Michigan Trails Advisory Council and to provide the DNR advice related to the off-road vehicle program, including the creation, development, operation and maintenance of the designated ORV trail system. 

Wednesday, Oct. 11

bullet8 a.m. - The Michigan Trails Advisory Council will hold its next work session and regular meeting. 

Topics for the meeting will include, but are not limited to:

bulletMichigan Natural Resources Trust Fund update.
bulletMapping and timeline recommendations.
bulletPublic Act 288 update.

The Michigan Trails Advisory Council was created by Part 721, Pure Michigan Trails, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, to advise the Department of Natural Resources director and the governor on the creation, development, operation and maintenance of motorized and non-motorized trails in the state, including, but not limited to, snowmobile, biking, equestrian, hiking, off-road vehicle, water and skiing trails. 
Draft meeting agendas for all three advisory bodies can be found at, under Commissions, Boards and Committees, in the Michigan Trails Advisory Council section (select the desired workgroup or council website for individual agendas).

Anyone seeking more information about these meetings, wish to provide public comment on any motorized and nonmotorized trail-related issues, or needing accommodations to participate in these meeting should contact Barbara Graves, DNR Parks and Recreation Division, 517-284-6112 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired).


Fisheries Survey Paints Clear Picture of Oakland County's Paint Creek

screenshot of Paint Creek survey video, featuring brown trout going into net underwater27SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently concluded a mark and recapture fisheries survey on Paint Creek in Oakland County to better understand the water body’s brown trout population.

Get an inside look at the survey work in this brief video.

The DNR manages a portion of Paint Creek, downstream from Lake Orion, as a high-quality brown trout stream – as evidenced by its inclusion in the department’s Trout Trails online application.

“Brown trout naturally reproduce in Paint Creek, but we stock an additional 5,600 yearling brown trout each year to supplement that population and create more fishing opportunities," said local DNR fisheries biologist Cleyo Harris.
The recent survey, conducted late this summer, used electro-fishing to generate population estimates at certain spots along the stream. On average, 130 brown trout were found per mile in the upper portions of Paint Creek (upstream of Gunn Road) and 400 brown trout per mile in the lower portions (downstream of Gunn Road). The lower portion of the stream is slightly wider and provides a little more available habitat.

Steelhead also were found during the survey, having made their way into Paint Creek from the Clinton River. Roughly 27,000 steelhead are stocked annually by the DNR into the Clinton River downstream of Yates Dam.
The section from Gunn Road upstream to the Lake Orion Dam and the section from Tienken Road downstream to the Clinton River are regulated as a Type 1 trout stream. The section between Gunn Road and Tienken Road is managed with gear-restricted regulations (artificial lures only, daily possession limit of two trout and a minimum size limit of 14 inches for all trout).

Those looking for an opportunity to fish Paint Creek should keep in mind that the season closes Saturday, Sept. 30.


Proposed Brook Trout Regulation Change in Upper Peninsula

Close-up of brook trout in angler's hands26SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is proposing an increase to the brook trout possession limit on select Upper Peninsula stream sections starting in April 2018.
The brook trout daily possession limit has been set at five (5) for the past 17 years. During that time, many requests were received from anglers wanting to keep more fish. Sparked by these requests and with interest from the Natural Resources Commission and input from the DNR’s Coldwater Regulations Steering Committee, department fisheries staff investigated social and biological aspects of increasing the brook trout possession limit from five to 10 on a subset of Upper Peninsula streams.
From 2011 to 2017, public opinions were obtained through numerous public meetings, various surveys (internet, postcard, creel), consultations with sport clubs and other governing agencies, and from public e-mails, letters and phone calls. Biological information was gathered on seven streams using electro-fishing surveys, and DNR creel clerks collected catch, effort and harvest data on four streams.
Using this information, fisheries staff worked to select specific stream segments or sub-watersheds to be considered for the 10-fish possession limit based on guidelines proposed by the DNR’s Fisheries Division and accepted by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Consideration was given at the level of individual sub-watersheds, but staff also sought to look broadly across all unit and community boundaries. The intent was to find a way to diversify fishing opportunities across the landscape while simultaneously being protective of brook trout populations.

The proposal seeks to implement a higher brook trout possession limit on 33 stream sections distributed throughout the Upper Peninsula. In terms of stream mileage, the selected sections represent about 8 percent of the total mileage for Type 1 Upper Peninsula streams. Maps of the proposed streams are available on the DNR website.
The proposed regulation change will benefit anglers by creating additional fishing opportunities. Details about specific stream sections to be included under the proposed regulation will be presented at the Oct. 12 Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 500 West Fletcher St., in Alpena. 


DNR Offers Hiking Class at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

group hiking over bridge on trail through forest26SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Skills Academy will offer an introductory hiking class at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Saturday, November 4th, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hiking 101, for ages 14 and older, will cover hiking gear, clothing, nutrition, map and compass use, and minimal-impact techniques. The instructor also will spend a little time on backpacking equipment, camp stoves, shelters and other backpacking-related techniques for those who also are interested in backpacking. The last half of the day will be a 5-mile guided hike in the Porkies.
The cost for the class is $35, which includes lunch. Participants also will receive a Porkies trail map and orienteering compass.

Sign up on the Michigan e-store. Cancellations must be made by Oct. 21 to ensure a full refund. Participation is limited to 12.

Participants should wear hiking footwear and appropriate clothing for November weather in the Upper Peninsula and bring rain wear, a water bottle, trail snacks and a daypack or backpack. The 5-mile hike will be moderately difficult, with terrain that will include muddy trails, elevation and uneven surfaces.
For more information, call 906-885-5206.

A Recreation Passport is required for entry into Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It can be purchased at the park entrance.

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


Michigan’s Other Game Bird:  Grouse – "Sharptails" Offer Unique Hunting Opportunity

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

22SEP17-Mention grouse to most Michiganders and they immediately assume you’re talking about ruffed grouse, game birds that thrive in early successional forests – think aspen – and provide much of the romance in upland bird-hunting lore.

Sharp-tailed grouse are found in greatest concentrations in the Upper Peninsula in Chippewa and Schoolcraft counties.But there’s another grouse in Michigan that is far less numerous and widespread and is pursued by far fewer hunters. Sharp-tailed grouse are prairie birds, inhabiting grasslands and the neighboring brush, found only in the Upper Peninsula – and mostly on the east end.
While only a relative handful of sportsmen hunt them, they offer a unique upland opportunity to Michigan bird hunters. Michigan also has spruce grouse, which are not hunted.
Sharp-tailed grouse (commonly called sharptails, sharpies or sharps) are mottled brown, tan and white birds that get their name from the shape of their primary tail feathers.
They average about 20 inches in length and weigh in at around 2 pounds when mature. They are common in the western United States and Canada, but are much less so here in Michigan.
“Michigan is the furthest east state where you can hunt sharptails,” said Al Stewart, the upland game bird specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We work with a variety of partners – soil conservation districts, private landowners, and the Michigan Sharp-tailed Grouse Association – to maintain sharptail habitat and sharptails so we can maintain a hunting season in this state.

“You’ll see them in hay fields and cattle-grazed grassland fields. Sometimes you see sentry birds sitting on top of round hay bales. They like that brushy, fringe edge along grassland areas. Sharp-tailed grouse are an open-land species and much of the Upper Peninsula wants to be trees. One of our challenges is trying to maintain these large open areas.”
Sharptails were first documented in Michigan in 1888 on Isle Royale. They were widespread across the U.P. after the logging era, when wildfires opened up the landscape.

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

They were once more numerous on the west end of the peninsula, where it is assumed they moved into the state from farther west. But sharptail numbers dwindled in the western U.P. as the habitat succeeded to forests, though a remnant population remains on the east side.
State wildlife biologists established sharptail populations in suitable habitat in the northern Lower Peninsula by trapping and transferring birds from the U.P. as well as importing birds from Wisconsin and Alberta, Canada.
They were popular with hunters for many years, but forest regeneration eventually eliminated their habitat in the Lower Peninsula and most of the U.P. By the late 1980s, an estimated 90 percent of the state’s sharptail habitat had disappeared, and some biologists worried that the birds were in danger of being eliminated entirely from Michigan.

In 1996, the season was closed.Sharp-tailed grouse are found in greatest concentrations in the Upper Peninsula in Chippewa and Schoolcraft counties.

But subsequent surveys, led by DNR research biologist David Luukkonen, found that the birds were more numerous than previously thought. Historically, surveys were conducted on established breeding grounds, which are known as leks.
“We did a radio-telemetry study with Michigan Technological University and found the birds aren’t always faithful to one lek,” Luukkonen said. “They move around a lot. We not only went to established leks, but we did random samples of other open-land areas. A little more than half the areas we surveyed had sharp-tailed grouse in them. And we surveyed areas multiple times and found out that on any given morning, you’ll only detect them about half the time.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the number of birds we found.”
After a decade, the DNR re-opened sharp-tailed grouse season in the eastern U.P. in a small area east of I-75. In a conservative approach, the DNR gradually expanded the open hunting area west of I-75. During this time, habitat improved in this western area – largely as a result of wildfires.
Still, few hunters chase them. In the most recently completed survey of sharp-tailed grouse hunters in 2014, an estimated 289 hunters killed 134 birds.
Though there are good populations of sharptails in areas somewhat farther west in the U.P., the DNR has been conservative about expanding hunting opportunities. The counties with the highest population levels are Chippewa and Schoolcraft.

“We’re approaching sharptails with a very conservative sustainable management process,” Stewart said. “We set our season to correspond to that.”

A map shows the sharp-tailed grouse hunting area in the eastern Upper Peninsula.Sharp-tailed grouse season is open Oct. 10-31 in portions of Chippewa and Mackinac counties. Check the 2017 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest for details.
Sharptails are challenging to hunt.
“They’re fairly wary,” Stewart said. “Sometimes when you enter a field, they flush out at the far side of the field. You know how pheasants are wary and wild late in the season? Sharp-tailed grouse are even more wary.
“You won’t get a lot of shots at them,” he continued. “In your effort to hunt sharp-tailed grouse, you may spend a lot of time walking through pastures and meadows and then, if your dogs go on point, if you get close enough to get within a 20- to 30-yard range of them, you can harvest one.
“In Michigan, they’re a trophy grouse.”
Hunters may take two sharptails a day and have four in possession, with a season limit of six. Surveys show hunters average about a half a bird per season.
The DNR is anticipating a good season this year.
“We’ve certainly been seeing birds in the surveys we’ve done,” said Dave Jentoft, the DNR wildlife biologist in Sault Ste. Marie. “I expect it will be a decent season for hunters who are pursuing sharptails in the area.
“It’s a unique opportunity for hunters. It’s a relatively small area, given the size of the state. There are hunters who come from miles away, even from out of state, to hunt.”

Most birds are harvested on private land.
“We have very limited state land that has the habitat on it, but there are some Hunting Access Program (HAP) lands available,” Jentoft said.
More information about the Hunting Access Program is available at
In addition to hunting, sharptails are popular with birdwatchers because of their lavish courtship rituals. On spring mornings, males fly into leks where they dance to attract females.
The birds arch their backs, raise their tails and twist and turn as they stomp their feet, vocalizing and “rattling” – shaking their wing feathers. On quiet mornings, rattling can be heard for half a mile or more.
From their early history in Michigan, to the hunting opportunities of today, as the birds make a comeback in the Upper Peninsula, sharp-tailed grouse are a fascinating species to learn about, see and hunt – a welcome denizen to our wonderful prairie habitats.

More information about the Hunting Access Program is available at

To learn more about hunting for sharp-tailed grouse and other Michigan game species, visit

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


Deer in Genesee County Tests Positive for EHD

21SEP17-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory and the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory today announced they have confirmed that a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Genesee County has died from epizootic hemorrhagic disease. EHD is a viral disease, sometimes fatal, found in wild ruminants such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.
The disease is transmitted by a type of biting fly called a midge. Infection does not always result in the disease. Signs of illness within infected animals are highly variable, ranging from none at all to extensive internal bleeding and fluid accumulation. There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus.
Illness can come on suddenly and severely, but also can linger for weeks or months in a low-grade state. In severe forms of the disease, deer lose their appetite and fear of humans, grow progressively weaker, salivate excessively and finally become unconscious. Due to a high fever and dehydration, infected deer often seek water to lower their body temperature and to re-hydrate, and then are found sick or dead along or in bodies of water.

“Although this has been a single deer death at this point, we are asking for hunters to look around as they hit the field to let us know if they find dead deer, especially any near water,” said Tom Cooley, DNR wildlife pathologist.
Deer deaths from EHD in Michigan have occurred sporadically since 2006. Prior to 2006, EHD outbreaks in Michigan occurred in 1955 and 1974. The estimated mortality has varied from 50 to 1,000 deer per year in the affected isolated areas. The largest die-off occurred in 2012, with an estimated loss of more than 12,000 deer. No cases of EHD were confirmed in the state in either 2014 or 2015, and minimal cases were reported in 2016.
There is no known effective treatment for, or control of, EHD in wild populations. The disease has been seen for decades in many areas of the United States. 

Property owners or people on recreation who discover dead deer should report it through the DNR’s sick or dead bird and mammal reporting form, available at, or call their closest DNR Customer Service Center.

For more information on EHD, visit


Fishing Regulations Changed at September 14th NRC Meeting

20SEP17-At its last meeting Thursday, September 14th, in Lansing, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved several fishing regulation changes regarding the Big Island Lakes Complex in Schoolcraft County, reptile and amphibian possession and ice shanties.
The regulations are part of multiple Fisheries Orders the Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses to protect the state’s aquatic resources. The Fisheries Orders include 201, 224 and 251.
Fisheries Order 201 sets fishing regulations on waters within the Big Island Lake Complex in Schoolcraft County. The approved change moves the northern pike minimum size limit from 42 to 24 inches and increases the daily possession limit from one to two fish, removes reference to the muskellunge harvest tag and changes the muskellunge possession season to the first Saturday in June through Nov. 30. This Fisheries Order takes effect April 1st, 2018.

Fisheries Order 224 established regulations for Michigan’s reptiles and amphibians. The approved changes are administrative modifications that result in no regulation changes for anglers. This Fisheries Order takes immediate effect.

Fisheries Order 251 is a new order developed to regulate the use of ice fishing shanties in Michigan. The order mirrors ice shanty regulations already listed in statute. This Fisheries Order takes immediate effect.


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



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