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Updated 05/16/19



Governor Whitmer Approves $26 Million in Outdoor Recreation Development and Acquisition Grants

16MAY19-Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed legislation creating more opportunities for quality outdoor recreation by authorizing $26 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants.
“Creating more avenues for people to connect with Michigan’s beautiful outdoor spaces encompasses what Pure Michigan means. Investing in Michigan’s beautiful outdoor spaces can help economic growth while providing a physical and mental health boost to Michiganders,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund support is critical to opening up more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.”
House Bill 4244, sponsored by Rep. Phil Green, approves funding for 64 recreation development projects and land purchases recommended by the board. It is now Public Act 12 of 2019.
The Trust Fund board recommends funding to both state and local agencies for development projects and land acquisitions that will increase the quality and quantity of public outdoor recreation opportunities. This round of grant funding reflects continued support of:

  • Trail systems, specifically those – like the Iron Belle Trail – with broad regional and statewide impact.
  • Acquisitions of high-quality, unique natural resources including scenic river frontage, geologic features, wildlife habitat and Great Lake access.
  • An extensive range of development projects that expand opportunities across Michigan for camping, fishing, biking, hiking and snowmobiling.

This year the board recommended $18.6 million in acquisition grants and nearly $7.4 million in recreation development grants. Of the $18.6 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $12 million would be awarded to local units of government, while the remaining $6.6 million would be awarded to the Department of Natural Resources to support diverse projects including:

  • The acquisition of an improved riverfront trail way along the Detroit River in Wayne County. This critical expansion – the West Riverfront Park Trail Connection – will link the east and west portions of the riverfront into the future Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park. This collaborative project includes funding from the Department of Transportation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
  • A new Tahquamenon River access site, providing even more water-based recreation opportunities at this popular eastern Upper Peninsula destination.
  • In the northern Lower Peninsula’s Presque Isle County, the acquisition of roughly 80 acres of primarily upland aspen forest, 1,680 feet of Little Ocqueoc River corridor, 12 acres of wetlands and excellent winter deeryard and habitat for a variety of wildlife. The property, which will be part of the state forest system, will consolidate state land management in this area, will be managed for timber and wildlife and fisheries habitat, and will offer prime natural resources-based recreation opportunities including hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, camping, snowmobiling and wildlife watching.

Of the $7.4 million recommended to fund development grants, $6.8 million would support 30 local government projects and $540,000 would support four DNR projects.
Collectively, the $26 million of Trust Fund grants is matched with nearly $16 million of additional funding for a total of $41.9 million being invested in land acquisition and development projects across the state.
“I am proud that this legislation authorizing Trust Fund grants enjoyed such strong, bipartisan support throughout the Legislature,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “This action sends the message that Michigan places a high value on quality, outdoor recreation opportunities, and that we’re committed to protecting our beautiful, natural spaces for everyone’s use and enjoyment.”
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of land for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals, primarily oil and gas, and can only be used for public outdoor recreation. Over the past 40 years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1 billion to local units of government and the DNR to develop and improve public outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan.
The Trust Fund board's recommendations go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriation process. The Legislature then forwards a bill to the governor for her approval.

Descriptions of the development projects and acquisition projects approved by Gov. Whitmer are available at Michigan.gov/MNRTF.


Conservation Officers Offer Important ORV Safety Tips

A view from behind of off-road vehicles riding away down a dirt trail, lined with mature trees14MAY19-Speed and reckless driving are the primary contributing factors for off-road vehicle accidents, with 24 percent of all ORV accidents reported in 2017 resulting from people driving too fast, and 16 percent of riders not wearing a helmet.
Michigan DNR conservation officers are seeing more ORVs hitting the trail earlier in the season. They're also seeing more accidents, which easily could be avoided by keeping safety in mind.
Most ORV accidents can be avoided by riding at a safe speed, riding sober, riding on the right side of the trail, easing up around corners, being familiar with the terrain and riding within the ORV’s limits.
“There may be designated ORV speed limits on public roadways approved for ORVs,” said Conservation Officer Ben Shively, who patrols Oceana County. “And while there are no posted speeds on trails, riders can receive a citation for excessive speed or reckless riding.”
It’s also important to wear a helmet and to remember that there are many ORVs on the trails, including a growing number of side-by-side vehicles.

Ride Right campaign graphic

“We want to remind riders to take corners easy and ride on the right side of the trail,” said Conservation Officer Josiah Killingbeck, who patrols Lake County. “Side-by-sides are wider than dirt bikes and quads, taking up more room on the trails. You never know what’s around the corner.”
Conservation officers are seeing a big increase in ORV users drinking and driving, according to Killingbeck.
“ORV riding is a great sport,” he said. “Families and youth are enjoying it – please be responsible and ride sober so everyone can continue to enjoy this sport.”
To learn more about ORV safety and rules or to view an interactive, printable map of state roads available for ORV use, go to Michigan.gov/ORVInfo or Michigan.gov/RideRight.

For more information, contact Cpl. John Morey, 989-732-3541.


ICYMI: You Found a Fawn on its Own; Now What?

A fawn curled up in the grass14MAY19-It happens every spring. You're outside walking, enjoying the fresh air, blooming flowers and budding trees, when you spot it – a tawny, wide-eyed fawn, curled up in the grass. What should you do? Nothing.

In case you missed it, the DNR recently shared some information about this very scenario, including some facts about how deer care for and place their babies in seemingly "abandoned" areas:

A thicket, a patch of tall grass and a quiet spot in your back yard – all places that fawns have been found. For the first few weeks of a white-tailed deer fawn’s life, its mother will hide it in secluded locations. This behavior helps reduce the potential of predators finding the fawn.

While fawns may seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way. Read the full story here.


Oden Hatchery Readies for 10,000 Arctic Grayling Eggs

Arctic grayling swimming in a tank14MAY19-Michigan’s plan to reintroduce Arctic grayling to state waters is taking a big leap forward, courtesy of some generous donors and partners.

Plans are under way to install an ultraviolet water disinfection system at the DNR’s Oden State Fish Hatchery in Emmet County. The system, which should be in place by mid-August, is critical for both cultivating Arctic grayling and other fish broodstock – mature fish used for breeding – and ensuring that waters receiving those fish are protected from potential pathogens (things that can cause disease).

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support to bring this upgrade to Oden State Fish Hatchery, where protecting water quality is key to sustaining healthy fisheries across the state,” said Ed Eisch, manager of the DNR Fish Production Program.

The state of Alaska is providing Michigan with three “year classes” of wild Arctic grayling eggs. A year class is a group of fish of the same species and strain that hatched in the same year. Michigan’s first year class of eggs was collected a week ago at the Ruth Barnett Sport Fish Hatchery in Fairbanks, Alaska, with fish caught out of the Chena River. The eggs were collected by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with assistance from Michigan DNR staff. Michigan State University PhD candidate Nicole Watson will be bringing back enough eggs – roughly 10,000 – to run her second year of experiments and produce the state’s first year class of broodstock.

A DNR fisheries staff member collecting Arctic grayling eggs on a trip to AlaskaThese eggs initially will be reared in isolation at the Oden hatchery. Once cleared by fish health testing, they’ll be transferred to Marquette State Fish Hatchery. During broodstock development, scientific evaluations will continue on the Manistee River and begin on the Jordan, Maple and Boardman rivers to determine suitability for reintroduction.

More than $350,000 was raised to upgrade Oden’s isolated rearing facility, including engineering and construction costs. Major gifts were granted by Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Trout Unlimited, the DNR, Rosso Family Foundation, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Oleson Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed and supporters of the Little Traverse Conservancy.

Learn more about the initiative at MiGrayling.org.

Questions? Contact Ed Eisch, 231-922-6055 or Archie Martell (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians), 231-398-2193.


A Photography Moment, Outside the Door, at the Side Of The Road

By JOHN PEPIN - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

“Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing,” – Pete Seeger

A crocus garden around an old truck tire, beneath an apple tree, is shown.13MAY19-Rolling through the bucolic countryside on some forgotten copper-claim byway, I glanced over my shoulder as I crested a small hill.
When I saw what I saw I pulled the car into the crunching gravel at the side of the road. I turned around and headed back, parking on the shoulder.
Just beyond a shallow ditch was a house set back off the road. There was an old, leafless apple tree to the side of the front yard. The gnarled, gray fingers and upturned arms of this old matriarch reached wide to protect a sublime treasure lying beneath.
Around the sides of a big, knobby tractor tire were dozens and dozens of blooming crocuses, white, purple and even a handful colored yellow, bright and bold like buttercups. I had never seen so many crocuses in one place – it was like a sea of purple and white, moving slowly with bursts of wind that blew across the brown grass of the yard.

I wanted to take some close-up photographs of this wonderful spray of heaven. I turned to approach the house to knock on the door to ask permission. When I did, I stood shocked to see that not only was no one at home, but the house was dark, broken and abandoned.

Purple, white and yellow crocuses provided a dazzling sight outside an abandoned home.The house was a green, metal, put-together kind of structure with white pines standing tall in a row behind. An old car was left in the back. Some animal had chewed through the screens that covered the doors.
The concrete foundation had big holes in it. The roof line was busted uneven, and the steps were gone from under a sliding glass door that sat about midway down the length of the house. No sidewalk, pathway or trail through the grass was discernable.
All kinds of questions were swirling around in my head, basically amounting to, “What happened here?”
By the look of things, this house had once indeed been a home. There had been someone here to drive the old car, to likely walk out to the mailbox on a warm summer’s day and sit underneath the pines on a cool autumn evening.
And there was someone here who obviously admired the simple and profound magic produced by mixing sunlight, rich earth, a little bit of rain and a few flowering plants. I wondered whether this unknown gardener was here long enough to witness for themselves the exquisite crocus garden beneath the twisted branches of the apple tree.

A patch of white crocuses was a dramatic highlight in this beautiful garden.Did someone die, lose a job, divorce, go to jail or endure some other hardship? I saw no toys or swings or other signs of children around the place. I was reminded of something Bob Dylan wrote: “I see the screws breaking loose, I see the devil pounding on tin, I see a house in the country being torn apart from within.”
Did these people maybe just leave to be gone for good? Gone from the hardscrabble living a lot more than a few people find within these remnant locations – scatterings of bleak houses, situated between rusted railroad tracks, broken-down, left-behind schools, country stores and the cracked pavement off blacktopped county roads that inevitably lead to nowhere special?
There was no way to know, at least not from where I was standing.
John Fogerty wrote, “Looking out across this town, kinda makes me wonder how all the things that made us great got left so far behind. This used to be a peaceful place, decent folks, hard-working ways.”
That spring day, I was like most people, I suspect.

I was on my way to another thing, in another place, with my watch running slow amid the relentless crush of demands of this world, and its nagging “Where-are-you?” technology, tugging at the corner of my jacket.
It felt like someone had a hold of my arm, leading me away from this lonesome and quiet place where I could have sat all afternoon, just wondering.

A beautiful crocus garden was growing off the side of the road.Before I left, I did take several photos of the dazzling spring crocuses.
I wanted to bring with me a little bit of that garden out from under the shadows of that apple tree and whatever happened to those folks in the green-metal house.
I wanted to shine for these people a little bit of the light they’d left behind in their presumed misfortune – that magnificent blanket of flowers. And so, I share this story and photos to try to spread around the beauty left outside the door, at the side of the road.
Of course, I could have this whole thing wrong.
Maybe the people who once lived here found a big payday somehow – a la “Kinfolk said, ‘Jed, move away from there.’” I want to hope that’s what happened – “swimming pools, movie stars” – however unlikely.

At the very least, I hope they made out alright someplace else, in another state, country or atmosphere.
Maybe right now, there’s a lady on her knees in the green, spring grass, with a garden spade, digging a hole in the ground.
In the distance, there’s an old man approaching. He’s taking a good long time to get there because he’s trying to roll a big, knobby truck tire in a straight line. He’s going to roll that wheel until it falls over on its side next to the lady, under the shade of an aging apple tree.
In the skies above, swallows tip and turn, the breezes are warm and light.

Some of the beauty from the crocus garden is shown.

Back up on their new porch, with the green-metal roof, the couple will later sit and sip something sweet while the sun falls behind the pines. Cool air descends, bringing down the purple night.
Those tough times they might have had trying to make a life living in the Michigan north woods exist now only in their dreams and memories, a long time gone. Maybe there’s a picture of their Michigan crocus garden hanging on their wall.
Meanwhile, that old house, with the torn screens and sagging frame, sits alongside the road with the howling elements of nature pounding a little harder on the roof and walls each year – sensing weakness in the structure, the inevitable decay and demise.
But under that tree remains, a delight for the eyes and the soul – a promise of renewal, regeneration and revival – the purple and white crocuses, with a few dashes of yellow sprinkled in.
No more than a few inches tall, they have the unlikely power to stop a passing car whirring along the roadside, to make a man get out with a camera to wonder and to think.

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


Explore Michigan's Wetland Wonders and Win!

During the DNR's new Wetland Wonders Challenge (now through July 14), visitors are invited to visit one of Michigan's Wetland Wonders, snap a photo by the official challenge sign and then submit it for a chance to win a gift card. Scattered across the state, these areas provide great year-round recreation opportunities like birding, boating, fishing, hiking and hunting, not to mention capturing great photos.


State Parks Centennial GeoTour kicks off May 24th

13MAY19-The State Parks Centennial GeoTour, a partnership with the Michigan Geocaching Organization kicking off May 24, is your opportunity to seek out 100 new caches while tipping your hat to 100 years of state parks. It's a fun way to explore, and you will join one of 3 million geocachers looking for millions of caches located all over the world. Once you find a certain number of caches, you can earn rewards.


Eight Projects to Share $1.25 Million in DNR's Aquatic Habitat Grants

A group of contractors work along a river shoreline to stabilize it09MAY19-Fish and other aquatic species need healthy habitats in order to grow, reproduce and support Michigan’s valuable fisheries, but degraded habitat threatens their populations throughout the state. Through its Aquatic Habitat Grants Program – which annually provides $1.25 million to fund habitat conservation projects around the state – the Department of Natural Resources supports the efforts of its partners to protect and restore fish populations and habitat.

Nonprofit organizations, local governments and state government agencies this year submitted a total of 24 pre-proposals requesting $4.66 million in grant funding. The DNR reviewed these requests and will fund eight projects through the program.

“These projects are critical to protecting and restoring the aquatic habitats that produce our world-class fisheries and support healthy aquatic ecosystems throughout the state,” said Jim Dexter, chief of the DNR Fisheries Division.

Applicants receiving Aquatic Habitat Grant funding this year include:

  • Conservation Resource Alliance, $210,000 to remove two undersized culverts to allow fish passage on the Pere Marquette River.
  • Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, $37,185 to restore approximately 200 feet of degraded shoreline on Lake Charlevoix (Charlevoix County) using bioengineering techniques that will serve as a demonstration for the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership’s contractor training program and an example of shoreline bioengineering in an area with high wave energy.
  • Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, $93,238 to replace a road/stream crossing on the Crooked River (Emmet County) with a channel-spanning bridge allowing fish and aquatic organisms to migrate from Pickerel Lake into the Crooked River watershed.
  • Huron Pines, $50,000 to remove an obsolete and partially failed dam on the Middle Branch of the Cedar River (Clare County).
  • Trout Unlimited, $180,000 to improve road/stream crossings on Big Devil, Boswell and Peterson creeks (Kalkaska, Manistee and Wexford counties) that served as barriers to fish and aquatic species in the Manistee River watershed.
  • Golden Lotus, Inc., $91,115 to implement Phase III of its project to rehabilitate the Pigeon River at the site of the former Song of the Morning dam (Otsego County). This dam was removed in 2016, and the current project will mitigate erosion occurring within the former impoundment and rehabilitate the stream into a more natural channel.
  • Columbus Township, $449,750 to rehabilitate over 2,000 feet of the Belle River (St. Clair County) for native mussels and anadromous fish (those that are born in fresh water, spend most of their life in the sea and return to fresh water to spawn).
  • The Marquette County Conservation District, $138,712 to replace a culvert on Norwald Creek and restore 650 feet of Brickyard Creek.

The Aquatic Habitat Grant Program is funded by revenues from fishing and hunting license fees. This funding will be available in the next cycle through the new Fisheries Habitat Grant. The DNR will announce the request for proposals for this grant at the end of July.

Learn more about these programs and other grant opportunities at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.


Public Comments Response Summary Available;
Dredging Work Set to Begin at Buffalo Reef in the Keweenaw

Project backed by Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding

08MAY19-With dredging work set to start off the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior, the Buffalo Reef Task Force has prepared a summary responding to public comments made on a Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis issued earlier this year.
The alternatives analysis issued in February briefly described 13 strategies for managing historic copper mine tailings threatening to destroy spawning habitat and recruitment areas important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout in and around Buffalo Reef.
The reef is situated off the mouth of the Big Traverse River in Houghton County.

Mine tailings, called stamp sands, were dumped a century ago into Lake Superior at Gay, Michigan, during processing of copper ores from the Mohawk and Wolverine mines. Since that time, with wave action, the sands have moved south along the shoreline toward the reef.

The task force sought public comment on whether there are additional management strategies the group should consider and whether any adjustments should be made to the management strategies or risks described in the draft analysis. The public comment period closed March 8.

The Responsiveness Summary compiled by the task force is now available.

“The comments we received will be incorporated into the draft,” said Stephanie Swart, a Buffalo Reef Task Force Steering Committee member and lake coordinator with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Environment. “Our next steps are to finish the Preliminary Alternatives Analysis by including cost estimates and a tentative ranking of the alternatives.”
Swart said the task force plans to release the completed Preliminary Alternatives Analysis in June and hold a public meeting in July in Lake Linden. The analysis will be used to select the top two to four best alternatives. Detailed analysis of those options will then begin in the fall of this year.

Meanwhile, dredging of the Grand Traverse Harbor and the “trough” area, situated north of Buffalo Reef will begin in the next week or two and is expected to continue into July.
This project is being executed in cooperation between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to save the 2,200-acre Buffalo Reef.

To find out more about the effort to save Buffalo Reef, including media photos, visit www.Michigan.gov/BuffaloReef.


Happy 100th Birthday, Michigan State Parks!

three ilttle girls with smiling, dirty faces, having a good time at a state park07MAY19-From Belle Isle in Detroit, all the way to the "Porkies" in the west end of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan is home to 103 state parks that offer the best in outdoor recreation, nature programming and gorgeous green spaces.
It all started in 1919 with the creation of the Michigan State Park Commission, and this year (officially May 12) marks the 100th anniversary of the state parks system. Many campers already have booked their spots to be a part of this historic weekend, but there's a full year of special events and programs planned to celebrate this milestone, too, including:

  • Campfire storytelling dates throughout the summer.
  • Happy Little Trees (with Bob Ross Inc.) tree-planting events.
  • A centennial geo-caching tour around Michigan.
  • Special events (yoga on the beach, learn to fish and more).
  • Centennial-themed T-shirts, hats and other gear that gives back.
  • Plenty of volunteer opportunities to show your state park love!

Learn all about the state parks centennial at Michigan.gov/StateParks100 and find your favorite way to celebrate.

Schedule of events:

Tuesday, May 21st in Lansing (location TBD)
Saturday, June 22nd at Interlochen State Park
Saturday, July 10th at Van Riper State Park in Champion
Saturday, August 17th at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit


New Wildtalk Podcast: Birds, Skunks, Wetlands & More

Wildtalk podcast graphic showing an elk profile and a pair of hands holding headphones, on a wood background07MAY19-Each month the DNR Wildlife Division releases a new episode of the Wildtalk podcast, a fun and interesting look inside the world of Michigan's wildlife and the people who help take care of it.

In the May episode, you'll find out what DNR wildlife staff have been up to around the state, talk birds and the MI Birds partnership with Erin Rowan, and hear listener questions – on topics ranging from skunk removal to salt blocks to fawns found alone – answered in the mailbag segment. The episode wraps up with a discussion about activities on public land and the Explore MI Wetland Wonders Challenge.

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.


ICYMI: Need-to-Know Info for Wild Mushroom Season

Little boy in overalls, standing in front of a house, with a net bag of morels in one hand, with his other hand outstretched holding a morel07MAY19-The hunt for wild mushrooms is on in Michigan, and people are searching the forests for these coveted, tasty treasures – both for their own enjoyment and for selling to others.

Before you join the hunt, though, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to properly identifying mushrooms, choosing ideal locations to search and understanding Michigan's Food Code requirements governing who sells hand-picked mushrooms. 

In case you missed it, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently wrote about wild mushroom season and things for consumers and restaurateurs to know. Read the full story before beginning your mushroom hunt! For additional information, check out the DNR's newly updated Michigan morels webpage at Michigan.gov/MiMorels.


On The Road Again: DNR Fish Stock Trucks

a side view of a Michigan DNR fish-stocking truck, with pine trees in the background

07MAY19-If you’ve been driving Michigan’s highways and back roads in recent weeks, you might have spotted DNR fish-stocking trucks nearby. The department is right in the middle of its spring stocking season, which means there’s a good chance of coming across one of these trucks releasing its prized recreational cargo – thousands of fish – at hundreds of locations throughout the state.
Stocking is a valuable tool used by fisheries managers to restore, improve and create fishing opportunities in Michigan’s inland lakes and streams and the Great Lakes.
The DNR accomplishes this task by rearing fish at its six fish-production facilities, cooperatively managing up to 29 rearing ponds and six Great Lakes imprinting net pen/pond locations and maintaining a fleet of 18 specialized fish-stocking vehicles.
Every year, the DNR stocks more than 20 million fish weighing more than 350 tons. Species stocked include steelhead; Atlantic, chinook and coho salmon; splake, brown, brook, lake and rainbow trout, plus muskellunge and walleye. Beginning in mid-March and ending in early June, DNR trucks will travel well over 100,000 miles to stock more than a thousand locations.

For information on local fish-stocking locations, visit MichiganDNR.com/FishStock.

Questions? Contact Steve VanDerLaan, 269-668-2696, ext. 26.


MI Cultural Treasures Preserved, Protected and Shared by the DNR

By SUZANNE FISCHER - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

State Archivist Mark Harvey and archivist Andrea Gietzen pull several of the original architectural drawings of the state's capitol for scanning.

03MAY19-Most people already know that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages elk herds and stands of pine – but how about historic photos, a 1957 Corvette and a historic fort on the Keweenaw Peninsula?
All these things are part of Michigan’s cultural resources, also managed by the DNR.
For more than a decade, the DNR has committed in its mission to preserving, protecting, stewarding, and sharing cultural resources – as well as natural resources – for the people of Michigan.
“Cultural resources are the state’s treasures that were made by people in Michigan and are evidence of their lives and stories,” said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center in Lansing. “Like natural resources, they are held in trust by the DNR for the people of Michigan, to make sure that the state’s history and culture are documented, preserved and shared.”

Cultural resources give lives meaning. They’re the things that tell stories of who we were and how and why and where we live and lived. They’re historic houses, stores, offices, sawmills and blast furnaces.
“Cultural resources, like the Sanilac Petroglyphs in Sanilac County, are gifts from Michigan’s first peoples to their current descendants,” said Stacy Tchorzynski, archaeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office. “They’re tools and ceramics uncovered to help reconstruct a community’s daily life.”

Historian Barry James hands a piece of pottery to a student on an archaeological dig in the Upper Peninsula.They’re objects, tens of thousands of them – from Civil War rifles and satellite dishes to lead service pipes from Flint – that tell stories of our state.
“Cultural resources include millions of records of the births, deaths, naturalization, imprisonment and freedom of Michigan’s people,” said state archivist Mark Harvey. “They’re the official records of state and local government and the hand-written diaries and letters of famous and everyday people.”
Cultural resources are images of Michigan, the historic photos that allow us to see into the past.
Several DNR divisions manage Michigan’s cultural resources.
The Michigan History Center takes care of, and provides access to, the state’s historic objects, documents and photographs. Within the center, the Michigan History Museum collects artifacts that relate to the history, culture and people of Michigan.
“These collections include more than 130,000 artifacts ranging from farm tools to elegant 19th-century textiles and streamlined 20th-century automobiles,” Clark said.

Archaeologists with the State Historic Preservation Office train museum visitors how to conduct an archaeological dig.

The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. With documents dating back to 1792, the archives house much of Michigan's recorded heritage.
“We have more than 120 million state and local government records and private papers, 10 million photographs and 50,000 maps, plus films and audio tapes are available for research,” Harvey said.
The Michigan History Center collaborates with the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division to interpret and preserve historic sites at eight state parks in Michigan.
Among these sites are Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County, with its astonishingly complete 19th-century iron-processing company townsite located on the Garden Peninsula; Cambridge Junction State Park in Lenawee County, home to the historic Walker Tavern; and Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, a site in Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula that dates back to the days of the mid-1840s Copper Rush.

Friends groups associated with the historic state parks collaborate with the Michigan History Center and the DNR to preserve and share these one-of-a-kind cultural resources with a broad public.
“The DNR is not only responsible for managing the state’s great natural resources, but also many of the state’s unique cultural resources,” said Bob Wild, park supervisor at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park in Copper Harbor. “Partnering with entities like friends groups and the Michigan Historical Center helps the DNR to best preserve these wonderful cultural treasures.”
The DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division’s Stewardship Unit also manages cultural resources found within Michigan’s 103 state parks, from Fresnel lenses in Michigan’s historic lighthouses to historic structures of all kinds.

Artifacts recovered and displayed at Fort Wilkins help park visitors gain a deeper understanding of the history of the former military post.Even a state park toilet-shower building can be a cultural resource. During in the 1930s and 40s, enrollees in the Civilian Conservation Corps built a great deal of state park infrastructure in Michigan, including roads and bridges, picnic pavilions and decorative stone walls and gates – like the ones at Bewabic State Park in Iron County – and these historic toilet-shower buildings.
Mackinac State Historic Parks, another DNR division, manages historic sites, structures and objects relating to the history of the Straits of Mackinac on Mackinac Island and in Mackinaw City.
The state’s buried cultural resources, the archaeological evidence of people’s lives as seen in pottery, fire-cracked rock and bottles of medicine, are managed by the Office of the State Archaeologist, housed in the State Historic Preservation Office at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
This office manages objects found in the ground as well as objects found underwater, on the “bottomlands” of the Great Lakes, where shipwrecks have come to rest. The Center partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in managing the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena.

While cultural resources may not be the first thing many people think of when they think of the DNR, the department’s role as steward of our cultural heritage cannot be diminished.
From photographs and maps to personal records, historic forts and sunken ships, Michigan’s cultural treasures are the ingredients that help people and communities find, learn and share their own stories.

Get more information on Michigan’s cultural resources at Michigan.gov/MHC.
Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at
Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR.


State Park Stewardship Volunteers Needed Throughout May

stewardship volunteer holding invasive garlic mustard she has pulled01MAY19-The DNR will host a number of volunteer stewardship workdays in May at state parks in southeast and southwest Michigan.

Volunteers are needed to remove garlic mustard, an invasive plant that threatens native habitats. Workdays are an enjoyable way to spend time outdoors while restoring Michigan's ecosystems and learning about its inhabitants.

Workday details (including meeting locations, the stewardship volunteer registration form and links to individual park maps and directions) are available on the DNR website at Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers. Volunteers are asked to register either by using the form or by emailing freih@michigan.gov.

May stewardship workdays:

  • Wednesday, May 22: Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County), 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 25: Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 25: Holland State Park (Ottawa County), 10 a.m. to noon
  • Saturday, May 25: Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 25: Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 26: Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Friday, May 31: Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Find more information about these and other volunteer opportunities on the DNR’s volunteer events calendar.


Help the DNR Plant 'Happy Little Trees'

DNR Happy Little Trees t-shirt design, with Bob Ross01MAY19-People around the world are familiar with the work and personality of Bob Ross, the American painter, art instructor and television host who in the ’80s and ’90s shared his love for painting and the environment with millions of viewers on the public television show, “The Joy of Painting.” Ross was known for demonstrating seemingly simple brushstrokes that brought gorgeous landscapes – full of happy little trees – to life on the canvas.
Inspired by the state parks centennial celebration, the DNR and Bob Ross Inc. are partnering on the
Happy Little Trees tree-planting program in state parks. The program helps campgrounds recover from the effects of emerald ash borer and other forest pests by planting native trees with local genetics to help repopulate these areas with appropriate trees for the environment. These trees are grown specifically for replanting at state parks in the same region.
Volunteers are needed to help plant this year’s family of Happy Little Trees. Though it’s too soon to finalize planting dates, the DNR has selected planting locations.
Sign up to be a volunteer, select your location(s), and you’ll be notified about event specifics as they are set for May and June. (Please note that space is limited at each location; signing up does not guarantee a volunteer spot.) Each volunteer will get a Happy Planting T-shirt featuring Bob Ross.


Give 100: Help Raise Funds for Your Favorite State Parks

Give 100 logo01MAY19-For 100 years, Michigan state parks have forged family traditions, solidified friendships and been part of countless lifelong memories.

During the Michigan state parks centennial year, the “Give 100” fundraising effort gives people who love the parks a chance to contribute toward improvements at their favorite state parks and be one of the first 100 people to give $100 to one of Michigan’s 100-plus state parks.

Make a donation at Michigan.gov/StateParks100 or by texting GIVE to 71777 to help raise these important funds.


Help Guard Michigan's Sturgeon

01MAY19-"Sturgeon for Tomorrow" is seeking volunteers to join in its effort, in partnership with the DNR, to help protect lake sturgeon from illegal harvest. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to stand guard along the Black River during the spawning season (mid-April through early June) to report suspicious activity and deter the unlawful take of this iconic fish. Volunteers also can play a key role by recording the number and activity of fish they see. Register to volunteer.


Become a Community Scientist

01MAY19-Community science programs provide essential information for scientists working to better understand wildlife – they can’t be everywhere all the time, and they depend on nature lovers and backyard biologists to report what you see! Birds are especially easy to observe because they are far more conspicuous than other wildlife, and spring is a great season to get involved in helping monitor them. There are several bird-related community science opportunities in Michigan this spring.  Contact your local DNR office to see if you can help or click on the link in this article.


Upcoming DNR meetings include opportunities to comment on proposed deer baiting/feeding regulations

29APR19-The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing Michigan citizens 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.

Public comment on proposed deer baiting/feeding regulation

There also will be opportunities in May, June and July for people to share their thoughts on a DNR staff proposal to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission regarding Upper Peninsula deer baiting and feeding regulations. In addition to public comment taken at the NRC meetings during these months and the May Western Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council meeting, an Upper Peninsula DNR listening session will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT May 22 at Michigan Technological University, Memorial Union Building – Ballroom A, Houghton.

For more information about this meeting, contact Stacy Welling Haughey at 906-226-1331. June and July public comment opportunities on proposed U.P. deer baiting and feeding regulations also will be available.

May Meetings


Anglers Help Protect Michigan’s Waters from Invasive Mud Snails

By JOANNE FOREMAN - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A closer look at New Zealand mudsnails is shown.26APR19-Thousands of anglers across the state are poised to dip their waders into cold-water Michigan lakes, rivers and streams beginning Saturday, looking to tempt a prize "brookie", a colorful rainbow or sleek German brown trout.
As they move from one spot to the next, anglers can unknowingly help spread a devastating invasive species, the
New Zealand mud snail
“If you are going to fish different streams, be sure to clean your waders and boots,” said Jeff Gerwitz, a member of the Vanguard Chapter of Michigan Trout Unlimited, supporting Oakland County’s Paint Creek. “Some people don’t think it’s a big deal or concern, and they don’t take the time to clean and inspect between sites, but now we’re finding these mud snails in more and more places.”
New Zealand mud snails were first discovered in the U.S. in Idaho’s Snake River in 1987. Since then, infestations have spread throughout the western states and into areas of the Great Lakes.
Their discovery in the Pere Marquette River in August 2015 marked the first detection in a Michigan inland waterway. Within the next year, mud snail populations were confirmed in the Boardman and Au Sable rivers.

By 2017, they were found in the Manistee River and the Pine River near the Tippy Reservoir.

New Zealand mudsnails shown attached to a piece of wood.Greg Potter of Marshall has been involved with Trout Unlimited’s Kalamazoo Valley chapter for over 25 years and until recently served as the organization’s state education director. He is worried about the impacts of New Zealand mud snails in Michigan.
“Any time we change the environment, it’s going to do something,” he said. “Mudsnails affect the lower end of the food chain for fish, edging out insects and larvae that fish eat. We’re going to see effects from that.”   
These tiny, brown to black snails can reproduce asexually, by cloning. A single snail can produce over 200 offspring in a year, leading to dense populations in a short time.
“When I first heard of the New Zealand mud snails on the Boardman, I visited a friend who lives on the river,” said Frank Simkins, a long-time angler and member of the Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited, serving the Traverse City area. “I waded out and the snails were really thick, on every rock and stick. That part of the river was changed, with silt and snails rising like clouds when you walked through it.”

A citizen science volunteer learns the eDNA sampling protocol on Paint Creek.

With funding from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, Dr. Scott Tiegs and graduate researcher Jeremy Geist at Oakland University set out to track mud snail populations in Michigan.
Over the past two summers, Geist and a team of undergraduate researchers have documented a dramatic increase in density of New Zealand mud snail populations in the Au Sable River.

Engaging citizen scientists

Tiegs and Geist were eager to expand their search to other river systems, but standard survey methods were difficult and time-consuming.
In the lab, the project team designed a method for citizen scientists to collect environmental DNA samples, which can provide an early indication of the presence of New Zealand mud snails in a waterway before the snails themselves might be seen. 
The method involves collecting stream water in a large syringe fitted with a special filter that collects DNA shed from organisms.

Citizen scientists complete a training session then follow the protocols to fill the syringe five times, until one liter of water is passed through the filter. The whole sampling kit is then returned to Oakland University to test for mud snail eDNA. 
Now, through a partnership between Oakland University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Trout Unlimited and Anglers of the Au Sable, citizen scientists like Gerwitz, Simkins and Potter are putting on their waders to test rivers and streams across the state.
“The volunteer base of Trout Unlimited puts a lot of effort into assuring our rivers and streams in Michigan are healthy and self-sustained,” said Geist. “Reaching out to these anglers who are committed to the resource was a logical step.”   
Many of the volunteers were already involved in an Adopt-a-Stream program, which monitors macro-invertebrates – insect larvae and snails that make up most fish diets.

An angler enjoys a day on the Pere Marquette River.Macro-invertebrates have proven to be good indicators of water quality and stream health. Testing for mud snail eDNA was a simple addition to the volunteer sampling efforts.
To date, no detections by eDNA sampling efforts have been verified on rivers or streams beyond the Pere Marquette, Boardman, Au Sable and Manistee rivers. 

Stopping the spread

Once introduced into a river system, New Zealand mud snails tend to travel downstream with the current and occasionally make their way upstream, possibly by being eaten and then deposited by fish. The snail’s hard shell and closeable hatch, called an operculum, help it resist digestion, providing no nutritional value to fish. 
On their own, the snails do not move far. It takes human help to introduce them to a new water body. New Zealand mud snails likely were introduced to Michigan rivers by anglers who had fished in infested waters out west, then traveled to the state without knowing that a small snail or two had hitchhiked a ride on their gear. The mud snail’s ability to seal its shell means that it can survive out of water for several weeks.

Now that the mud snails are in five rivers in Michigan, there is the potential for them to spread to many other locations. The only way to prevent their spread, and the damage they cause to the environment and fish populations, is for anglers and vacationers to take precautions.
The Oakland University team compared products and methods to determine the best way for fly fishers to decontaminate their waders. Their results indicate that a spray treatment of Formula 409 was effective in killing New Zealand mud snails.

Clean your gear

Based on this study, the team developed a simple protocol that all anglers should use before traveling to a new water body. Note that this should be done away from the water’s edge:

  • Inspect waders and remove any visible debris and sand.
  • Clean soles, seams and laces using a brush.
  • Disinfect by freezing, drying or other means, including spraying on Formula 409 and leaving it on for 20 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse the waders with clean water.
  • Dry the waders before next use.

Video play button.A short video shows just how easy it is to clean waders using this method.
A kit including a scrub brush, a bottle of Formula 409 and a gallon of water is all that is needed to decontaminate gear.
“The process is quick and can be done at home if you aren’t visiting another stream,” said Gerwitz, “but it’s very important to do it in the field if you are heading to another location.”

Spread the word

Trout Unlimited’s Michigan Trout magazine has published several articles encouraging anglers to adopt decontamination practices to avoid spreading New Zealand mud snails.
Tiegs and Geist are visiting Trout Unlimited chapter meetings to share information about the invasive snail and demonstrate the wader-cleaning process.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division is reaching out to anglers, handing out mud snail information cards at boat landings and talking with anglers to gauge their level of understanding about mud snails and decontamination practices.
The consensus is that much more needs to be done to raise awareness and encourage participation.    
“People’s habits just aren’t changing as fast as they should be,” said Simkins. “Anglers and boaters are out there because they are nature lovers, but they often just don’t want to take the time to clean their gear.”
During the upcoming trout season please be sure to take time to inspect and clean your gear – make it a new habit. When the opportunity arises, spend a moment telling your friends and fellow anglers how they can help protect the sport they love by preventing the spread of New Zealand mud snails.

For more information about invasive species and preventing their spread, visit Michigan.gov/Invasives.

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


Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative aims to get new hunters wing shooting this fall 

close-up view of a ring-necked pheasant24APR19-Pheasant hunters soon may be finding and harvesting more pheasants afield thanks to the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative, through which select state game areas in the southern Lower Peninsula will receive released rooster pheasants over the next two seasons.
The Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 618 of 2018, which appropriated $260,000 from the general fund to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a pheasant release program during fall 2019 and 2020.
“This legislation was made possible through the partnership of the Michigan Pheasant Hunters Initiative and Michigan United Conservation Clubs,” said Amy Trotter, executive director of MUCC. “Releasing pheasants on state game areas was widely supported among our membership through our grassroots resolution process and was one of the recommendations made by the blue-ribbon advisory group charged with the responsibility to examine the uses of southern Michigan state game areas. The group recommended elevating small game hunting as a management output for state game areas.”

Pheasant releases will be divided into two periods: the October-November hunting period and the December period.
“A limited number of roosters will be released at each site throughout the pheasant hunting season in an effort to reinvigorate pheasant hunting in Michigan,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “In addition to increased hunting opportunities, folks will have the chance to put a delicious meal on their table.”

Pheasant releases this year will take place on 11 different state game areas:

  • Bay County: Pinconning SGA.
  • Cass County: Crane Pond SGA.
  • Clinton County: Rose Lake SGA.
  • Lapeer County: Lapeer SGA.
  • Monroe County: Erie and Pointe Mouillee SGAs.
  • Saginaw County: Crow Island SGA.
  • Sanilac County: Minden City SGA.
  • St. Clair County: St. Johns Marsh SGA.
  • St. Joseph County: Leidy Lake SGA.
  • Van Buren County: Cornish SGA.

Stewart said that the initiative partners hope hunters take advantage of these additional pheasant hunting opportunities in the southeastern and southwestern regions of the state, and that includes exposing a new generation of hunters to the thrill of Michigan pheasant hunting.

Adult and youth hunters flush a pheasant out of hiding during a youth huntIn addition to the state game areas listed above, Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County) and Shiawassee State Game Area (Saginaw County) will host one-time special events geared toward hunter recruitment and retention. The Allegan SGA event is Nov. 2, followed by the Shiawassee SGA event December 14th.
“The pheasant releases at Shiawassee and Allegan state game areas will offer opportunities to introduce new hunters to the sport,” said Dennis Fox, DNR recruitment and retention manager. “We want to keep Michigan’s great tradition of pheasant hunting alive for current and future generations.”
Additional event details for these one-time hunting opportunities will be announced as hunting season draws closer.
The pheasant releases are happening in partnership with the Michigan Association of Game Breeders and Hunting Preserves. Association members will release birds on a weekly basis at designated game areas.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the Michigan DNR on this project,” said Lyle Jaworski, president of the Michigan Association of Gamebird Breeders and Hunting Preserves. “One of the goals of the hunting preserves and gamebird breeders is to help maintain and expand pheasant hunting in Michigan.”

Pheasant hunting in Michigan is for male pheasants only with a two-bird daily bag limit. Zone 2 and 3 (Lower Peninsula) pheasant hunting is open Oct. 20 through Nov. 14 and in select portions of Zone 3 from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1. In select areas of Zone 1 (Upper Peninsula) pheasant hunting is open Oct. 10-31.
Pheasant hunters will need a free pheasant/sharp-tailed grouse endorsement on their hunting license. Anyone hunting pheasants will need this endorsement except those hunting pheasant only on hunting preserves. This free endorsement will help to identify the number of pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse hunters in Michigan. It also will allow the DNR to survey a sample of these hunters to get their input about the management of this important bird species, as well as on possible changes for the 2020 release strategy.

Visit Michigan.gov/Hunting to learn more about small game hunting opportunities in Michigan.


Backpacking Workshop & Overnight Experience June 7th, June 15th-16th

man and girls hiking with backpacks near stream through forest

24APR19-Friday, June 7th and Saturday/Sunday, June 15th and 16th at Eddy Discovery Center in Chelsea


Learn the basics of backpacking – like what and how to pack, meal planning and safety – in a preparatory class. Then, during an overnight backpacking experience the following weekend, hike the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail and learn about tent setup, meal preparations and backcountry camp stove basics, to go along with a campfire and a comradery-filled evening. Cost is $40 per family, which includes dinner and breakfast.


Register for Backpacking Workshop and Overnight Experience.


Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants June 8th

butterfly on flower24APR19-Saturday, June 8th, at Gillette Visitor Center in Muskegon


This class, including outdoor sessions with native plantings, will cover the basics of butterfly identification, life cycles and habitat needs; how to use native plants to attract butterflies and other pollinators; and how to start your own butterfly/pollinator garden. Cost is $50, which includes lunch, a field guide and other native plant gardening materials.


Register for Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants.



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

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

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


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