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DNR cautions UP motorists to be on the lookoutfor moose

A moose stands in a wetland area alongside U.S. Highway 41 in Marquette County.

Motorists traveling in the Upper Peninsula are being urged to keep an eye out for moose and to exercise extra caution when driving after dark.

Over the past week, five bull moose have been struck and killed by vehicles along portions of M-95 and U.S Highways 141 and 41 West in Marquette and Baraga counties.

“All of the moose killed were struck after darkness fell, when moose, especially the darker colored bulls, are more difficult for motorists to see,” said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer. “Each of these accidents occurred in areas marked with ‘moose crossing’ signs.”

Specifically, three crashes occurred on June 10, two in Baraga County and one in Marquette County. The incidents in Baraga County were located a mile west of Nestoria on U.S. Highway 41 and 1.5 miles south of Covington on U.S. Highway 141. The mishap in Marquette County happened on M-95, a half-mile south of its intersection with U.S. Highway 41.

On June 13, two additional vehicle-moose accidents happened. One was in Baraga County on U.S. Highway 41 at the crossing of Tioga Creek, while the second occurred in Marquette County on M-95, 1.5 miles south of its intersection with U.S. Highway 41.

On May 27, a sixth bull moose was killed along U.S. Highway 41 in Baraga County, 1.5 miles east of Alberta.

“Many people driving in the U.P. see moose and many people stop to look and take pictures, especially during the summer travel season,” Pepin said. “Folks doing this need to remember to pull safely off onto the shoulder of the road, watch for passing traffic and keep a safe distance from these wild animals.”

DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell said autumn, when moose are mating, is more commonly a time for moose to be traveling.

The most recent DNR moose survey, conducted prior to the coronavirus pandemic in February 2019, estimated 509 moose in the western U.P. The next survey is planned for 2024.

The moose population is estimated to grow at an average of about 2% each year. The western U.P. moose range covers about 1,400 square miles.

For more information on moose in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Moose

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A Walk in the Woods

Ranger Steve Mueller. He recently passed away. Courtesy photo.

By Tom Noreen

 At the end of January, Cedar Springs’ Ranger Steve Mueller presented his Wilderness – Unique Treasure program for the Audubon Club at Aquinas College. Nancy and I watched via a Zoom link. Steve’s presentation was based on the ideals found in Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, with its call for a land ethic to communicate the true connection between people and the natural world.

Ranger Steve emphasized the importance and values of protecting wilderness remnants for recreation, science and wildlife using the unique and fragile ecosystems of the American Red Rock Wilderness of Southern Utah as an illustration. Steve is intimately familiar with this region as he has spent many summers working and recreating there.

As a side note, Steve’s thoughts were echoed in Michigan author Mark Kenyon’s book, That Wild Country, that I recently read. Mark writes about his experiences in the wilderness areas of the US that he has made a point to visit. Interwoven with these “hikes into the woods” is a history of the preservation of wilderness areas and the people that made it possible including Aldo Leopold.

At the end of his presentation, a surprise tribute was given to Steve. Those attending described the impact that Steve had on their lives. Many knew Steve from his years at HCNC and some from his involvement in other organizations. The common picture painted by all told of Steve’s passion for nature, his patience, his desire to pass on his knowledge to others, and his vision.

I first met Steve and his wife Karen at our church shortly after we moved back to Cedar Springs in 2001. I didn’t know what he did until I went with our son Peter on a 5th grade field trip to HCNC later that fall. I fell in love with the area, as well as the program and came away wanting to be one of the environmental educators. On that visit, I also found that another member of our congregation worked there, Sue Vicari. I queried Sue with all kinds of questions about working there, the program, etc. The last of which was do you think Steve would consider hiring me? In short, he did and I had the chance to work for him for a few years until the Kent Intermediate School District closed HCNC because they didn’t feel environmental education was a priority. I continued to work there after the Kent County Conservation took over the mission and then volunteered when it transitioned into the non-profit it is today. It wasn’t the same without Steve’s passion and vision.

As instructors, Steve insured we got the best training to include how to prepare study skins by skinning and preserving the hides of “road kill” so that the students could look and feel the animals and birds they learned about. Other training was more academic. I attended a seminar on the Leopold Education Project that has since evolved into “an innovative, interdisciplinary conservation and environmental education curriculum based on the essays in A Sand County Almanac.” I would highly recommend this book. While written in the 1930/1940s, it is as current today as it was then. It is available both in print or audio format from the Kent District Library.

It’s been ten years since I led a group at HCNC and all of these experiences flooded back as the speakers shared their appreciation of Steve and the difference he made in their lives.

At the end of the tributes, Steve offered an open invitation to anyone that wanted to visit his own 61-acre preserve, Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, nestled along Little Cedar Creek a mile south of Cedar Springs. He has made that invitation many times, but I never took him up on it. This time I did; in the afternoon of February 11, Steve and I began the loop trail that traverses many of the different habitats encompassed by the sanctuary. Déjà vu. I thought I was back at HCNC as a new instructor following Steve around and listening to him as he passionately described nature around us.

As we walked the loop trail, he pointed out such things as the rare American chestnut trees, which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized in his 1842 poem, The Village Blacksmith. It starts, “Under the spreading chestnut tree/The village smithy stands.” At the time it was written, American chestnut forests blanketed the east. Its importance, as a building material and food source, was key to pioneers as they moved out from the coast. Since then chestnut blight, which is caused by a fungus and spread from imported Japanese chestnuts, has devastated the species.

He showed me the bridges that our mutual friend, Phil Wesche, had built over the creek, in a couple of spots. One leads to a small island that provides a secluded place to commune with the nature around.

At the end of the walk, I was in awe of Steve’s zeal for life and passion for nature. I’m not sure how anyone around him would not be motivated to learn more and want to be a part of the wonders of nature.

I just finished listening to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and The Battle of the Labyrinth, which is a young adult fantasy based on Greek mythology. In it, the young satyr Grover Underwood has spent years searching for the god Pan. Pan has been missing for hundreds of years and Grover’s life mission is to find him. They find him in a crystal cave surrounded by extinct animals and a garden of beautiful plants reclining on his death bed. Pan is dying because there are so few wild places left that he cannot survive. He charges Grover and his friends that it is now their responsibility to take action, spread the word and preserve what little is left of the wild. Ranger Steve has been doing this for years.

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‘A Year to Volunteer’ crew makes big impact at Grand Haven State Park

A Year to Volunteer crew at Grand Haven State Park

Deciding to travel with a purpose in their retirement, Phil and Shar Roos started “A Year to Volunteer” in February 2020. This RV-centric volunteer nonprofit organization rallies people from all over the country to take part in fun and beneficial volunteer projects!

During their recent Michigan visit, 23 volunteers representing 11 different states contributed 1,300 hours at Grand Haven State Park. They shingled a roof, built a gazebo, laid and finished six concrete pads, cleaned, sanded and stained 75 picnic tables, installed sway swings, repaired several structures and painted just about everything, but they forged tons of new friends and made a huge impact in the park.

To date, they’ve completed (more like crushed!) 294 workdays, more than 31,000 volunteer hours and 24 projects, and have already visited 17 states.

Read more at https://www.ayeartovolunteer.com/.

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New law prohibits water access when risks are present

Holland State Park

If your plans include swimming, especially along the Great Lakes, be sure to brush up on beach safety before anyone goes near the water.

In an ongoing effort to create more protections for visitors, Land Use Order 5.1.6 now prohibits people from accessing the water from a state-managed beach when risks to human health and safety are present, such as active rescues, severe weather events, waves more than 8 feet high and other public hazards. These closures will be publicized via on-site signage and/or communication by a DNR employee, such as loudspeaker announcements. (See the land use order here: https://tinyurl.com/3eyu23hb).

Visit Michigan.gov/BeachSafety to learn about designated swim areas, the Great Lakes beach flag warning system, dangerous currents, the new LUOD and more.

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Pheasant Fridays: pollinators, wildlife habitat and more

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend half a day outdoors, mark the calendar for an upcoming Pheasant Friday: special events hosted at different state parks in southern Michigan throughout June, July, August and September.

The DNR is partnering with Pheasants Forever on the program. It is open to kids and adults, though younger guests must be at least 6 years of age to participate. Pheasant Fridays will emphasize firearm safety and Pheasants Forevers’ effort to restore habitat for these beautiful birds.

Everyone will get the opportunity to shoot a BB gun in a safe environment with expert instruction. There also will be hands-on activities to learn about grasslands and birds, butterflies and other pollinators that support healthy wildlife habitat.

Pheasant Fridays are offered on these dates at the following locations:

June 17: W.J. Hayes State Park (Lenawee County)

June 24: Holland State Park (Ottawa County)

July 8: Sterling State Park (Monroe County)

July 15: Seven Lakes State Park (Oakland County)

July 29: Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area (Lapeer County)

Aug. 5: Ionia Recreation Area (Ionia County)

Aug. 12: Bay City State Park (Bay County)

Aug. 26: Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area (Lapeer County)

Sept. 2: Sleeper State Park (Huron County)

No reservations are needed, and all Pheasant Fridays are free. Visit each event’s webpage for information on start times and meeting locations. Please note that a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into Michigan state parks. Events will be canceled in the event of rain or lightning.

Questions? Contact Bill Fischer, Pheasants Forever, at 989-395-5945.

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DNR asks anglers to share details of muskellunge fishing trips

If you’re fishing for muskellunge this year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to hear from you. The DNR is asking people who fish for muskie to help with its ongoing efforts to investigate these fish by reporting through the DNR’s online muskellunge angler survey at https://www.research.net/r/MIMuskieSurvey?utm_campaign=muskie+surveyandutm_medium=prandutm_source=govdelivery.

Since 2014, this survey has gathered information about muskie angler demographics and catch data, such as length of fish caught, angler effort, body of water fished, and methods used. Fisheries managers have used this data to recommend fishing regulation changes to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, evaluate the muskellunge stocking program and understand more about self-sustaining populations.

View the current survey and past survey data at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/managing-resources/fisheries/muskie?utm_campaign=muskie+surveyandutm_medium=prandutm_source=govdelivery

Whether their trip resulted in a catch or not, anglers can offer valuable information about their fishing experience. People may fill out one survey per person, per trip and are encouraged to complete a survey for each muskellunge fishing trip they make.

“The reports we receive from anglers are essential because muskellunge are so elusive in our netting and electrofishing sampling efforts,” said Cory Kovacs, DNR fisheries biologist in Newberry. “The reports help us make future fisheries management decisions and understand more about their populations.”

Muskellunge season is open to catch and immediate release year-round, with the possession season opening statewide the first Saturday in June.

For additional season dates and fish length limits, see the 2022 Michigan Fishing Guide at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.

As a reminder, anglers are limited to taking only one muskellunge per license year and are required to register their harvest by calling 888-636-7778 or online at Michigan.gov/RegisterFish.

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New state-record flathead catfish tops 53 pounds

Lloyd Tanner, from Hobart, Indiana, was fishing the St. Joe River in Berrien County in the early-morning hours Sunday, May 29, when he caught a flathead catfish weighing 53.35 pounds and measuring 48 inches. Courtesy photo.

While fishing with cut bait recently in Berrien County, Michigan, an angler from Hobart, Indiana, caught a new state-record fish: a flathead catfish weighing in at 53.35 pounds and measuring 48 inches!

Lloyd Tanner was fishing the St. Joe River, a tributary of Lake Michigan, in the early-morning hours of Sunday, May 29, when he reeled in the record-breaker.

This fish beats the previous state-record flathead catfish—52 pounds, 46.02 inches long—caught in 2014 by Dale Blakley, of Niles, out of Barron Lake in Cass County.

Tanner’s fish was verified by Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A passion for catfish

“I’ve been fishing Michigan for almost 30 years,” Tanner said. “What draws me to Michigan is fishing for big catfish.”

Tanner said that he usually comes here every weekend to fish with friends in the Michigan Catfish Anglers Trail, or MCATS, an amateur fishing club.

“We have several fun tournaments that anyone who enjoys fishing for catfish can come out and fish,” he said.

About state-record fish

Michigan’s state-record fish are recognized by weight only. To qualify, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight, and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

To view a current list of Michigan state-record fish by species, visit Michigan.gov/StateRecordFish.

For more on planning your next fishing adventure, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.

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Free fishing, off-roading and state park entry

Residents and nonresidents can enjoy two days of free fishing without a license during “Three Free” Weekend. Get more details or find a local event at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Enjoy it all during Michigan’s “Three Free Weekend” June 11-12

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages everyone to take advantage of “Three Free Weekend,” Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12, two full days when residents and out-of-state visitors can grab a fishing rod, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks and boating access sites, all free of charge.

“We have three big reasons for you to enjoy some of Michigan’s best outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Whether you’re already an avid outdoors-person or someone just beginning to explore all the options, our ‘Three Free’ Weekend makes it easy to discover a new hobby, visit a new park or introduce friends to an outdoor experience you love.”

Michigan residents and nonresidents legally can ride 4,000 miles of designated routes and trails and the state’s six scramble areas without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit. VisitMichigan.gov/ORVinfofor ORV trail, safety and closure information. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

These two days include:

Free Fishing Weekend. Fish for all in-season species, all weekend long, without a license. All other fishing regulations apply. To get more details or find a local event, visit Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.

Free ORV Weekend. Legally ride 4,000 miles of designated routes and trails and the state’s six scramble areas without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit. Visit Michigan.gov/ORVinfo for the latest ORV trail, safety and closure information.

Free state park entry. To encourage people to pursue free fishing and other outdoor fun, the DNR waives the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks, 1,300 state-managed boating access sites and many other outdoor spaces. Learn more about all the Passport provides at Michigan.gov/RecreationPassport.

Free Fishing and Free ORV weekends each take place on back-to-back days twice a year, but the “Three Free Weekend” happens only in June.

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Grant to support water quality monitoring for safe summer beach recreation in Michigan

CHICAGO—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to award a $281,000 grant to the state of Michigan to develop and implement a beach monitoring and notification program. Since 2002 EPA’s partners across the nation have used nearly $206 million in BEACH Act grants to protect the public by monitoring beaches for bacteria, maintaining and operating public notification systems, identifying local pollution sources, and reporting results to EPA.

Under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, EPA awards grants to eligible state, territorial and Tribal applicants to help them and their local government partners monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches. When bacteria levels are too high for safe swimming, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.

EPA’s most recent Beach Report found that beaches on U.S. coasts and along the Great Lakes were open and safe for swimming 92 percent of the time in 2020. Check with your local public health authority on water conditions when making plans to go the beach.

EPA’s 2022 BEACH Act grant funding, contingent upon meeting the eligibility requirements, will be allocated to the states, territories, and Tribes listed at https://www.epa.gov/beach-tech/beach-grants

To check on the latest closings and advisories at particular beaches, the public should go to Michigan Beach Guard at https://www.egle.state.mi.us/beach/.

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Advice on safe mosquito control this summer season

From Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development

LANSING—With warmer summer weather finally making its appearance, Michiganders are urged to remember to take precautions against mosquitos, ticks, and the diseases they carry. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is providing guidance for safely choosing and using insect repellants and insecticides.

Mosquitos are annoying and potentially dangerous pests. They often seem to appear overnight and can spread dangerous diseases like West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) through their bites. However, with an early summer mosquito prevention strategy, you can limit mosquito bites and disease spread.

“One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent mosquitos is dumping standing water on your property at least once a week,” said Brian Verhougstraete, MDARD’s Pesticide Section Manager. “Mosquitos lay eggs in water, so eliminating standing water removes mosquitos’ ability to breed. Mosquito larvae live in water and can take only seven days after hatching from eggs to grow into flying adults, making preparation and early action essential. Now is a great time to check around for anything that collects water.”

Look for standing water in places like:

  • Clogged gutters
  • Kids’ toys
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Flowerpots and buckets
  • Bird baths

During warm summer days, mosquitos can often be found hiding in tall grass and brush offering them shade and protection. Homeowners can easily combat this by maintain a regular lawn mowing schedule. The early spring is a good time to clear some brush to reduce mosquito populations while also keeping dangerous ticks away from your lawn.

Insect repellents applied to the skin are one of the most popular and effective products used to avoid insect bites. Other commonly used repellants include torches, table-top diffusers, candles, and coils. When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women:

DEET

  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

Once mosquitos arrive, larvicides and adulticides can also provide temporary control of mosquitos. Larvicides are products designed to be applied directly to water to control mosquito larvae. Adulticides are used in fogging and spraying to control adult mosquitoes. Both options can temporarily reduce the mosquito population in your area, but do not provide long-term solutions against mosquitos.

“Whether you use an insect repellent or insecticide, always remember to read and follow all label directions,” added Verhougstraete. “The label is the law.”

A safe alternative to applying insecticides yourself is hiring a mosquito control business. Mosquito control businesses are required to be licensed to apply pesticides in Michigan and must meet certain financial and experience requirements including proof of insurance, meet certain experience requirements, and employ certified pesticide applicators who have passed MDARD proficiency examinations. A list of Michigan firms licensed to apply pesticides is available online at https://www.michigan.gov/mdard/licensing/pesticide/pesticide-application-business/pabl-process/pesticide-application-businesses-currently-licensed-to-do-business-in-michigan.

Listen to the Fresh from the Field Podcast to learn more about controlling mosquitos and mosquito borne illnesses at https://anchor.fm/mdard/episodes/How-to-Prevent-Mosquitoes-and-Mosquito-borne-Illnesses-e10crg4.

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WMBA 2022 Butterfly Counts

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

July 2, 2022 (Sat) 9:00 AM Allegan Butterfly Count – Allegan Co. Leader: Ronda Spink. Meet at the Allegan State Game Area, Fennville Farm Unit, 6013 118th Ave, Fennville (butterflynetwork@naturecenter.org)

July 5, 2022 (Tues) 9:00 AM Rogue River Butterfly Count – Kent Co. Leader: Ronda Spink. Meet at Long Lake County Park south of 17 Mile on the east side at the beach parking area. odybrook@chartermi.net

July 11, 2022 (Mon) 9:00 AM Newaygo County – Manistee National Forest Butterfly Count. Leaders: Ronda Spink. Meet at Leppink’s Grocery parking lot at the corner of M 82 & M 37 in Newaygo. butterflynetwork@naturecenter.orgor odybrook@chartermi.net)

July 14, 2022 (Thurs) 9:00 AM Greater Muskegon Butterfly Ct – Muskegon Co. Leader: Dennis Dunlap. Meet on Mill Iron Road north from M-46 (Apple Ave.) east of Muskegon at second set of power lines that cross the road north of MacArthur Road. dunlapmd@charter.net.

Contact Ranger Steve to sign up at Odybrook@chartermi.net so unexpected changes can be shared. There is a $3 charge sent to the North American Butterfly Association to participate. Rain day alternates will likely be the next day. Any questions can be directed to his email or to the other leaders. Steve’s phone is 616-696-1753. 

Bring a bag lunch and plenty of water. We eat lunch in the field. Dress appropriately with long trousers to protect legs from raspberry thorns or leg grabbing plants. Light weight long sleeves protect from sun. Bring insect repellent but in most locations is it not essential but always good to have. Restrooms are limited. 

Bring close focusing binoculars and butterfly field guides if you have them. WMBA members will share and help with identifications. Ranger Steve will have the Michigan Butterfly and Skipper book for sale for those wanting one.  

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Blue Lakes Fire response in final stages; DNR thankful for help

Ashes cover the ground in an area where the Blue Lakes Fire burned.
Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

As DNR fire crews continue to identify and mop up hot spots within the 2,516-acre Blue Lakes Fire, all roads and the Black River have reopened.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources got a lot of help in fighting the fire, located northwest of Atlanta in Montmorency and Cheboygan counties, since it was reported around 12:40 p.m. last Friday.

“We’d like to express appreciation for the assistance and support of all the partners and cooperators involved,” said Kerry Heckman, public information officer for the DNR’s Incident Management Team.

Among those assisting were DNR Law Enforcement; USDA Forest Service; Montmorency County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Management; the Tri-Township, Hillman Area, Lewiston, Vienna, Albert Township, Charlton Township and Onaway fire departments; the Canada Creek Ranch Fire Brigade; Onaway, Hillman Area, Tri-Township and Cheboygan EMS and the Michigan State Police.

A burned log and ashes remain following the Blue Lakes Fire.
Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR also thanks the local community for its support, including numerous donations of food and water throughout the past several days and their willingness to respect the road closures, put safety first, and give crews the space they need to safely and effectively contain the fire.

Wildlife spotted returning to fire area

A  porcupine is seen returning to the forest.
Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Although the fire is mostly contained and the area has opened back up, people still need to be careful in the fire area. Be aware of snags—burned trees that can fall without warning—especially when it’s windy. It’s normal to see some smoke in the blackened area and it isn’t a cause for alarm. Both people and pets should avoid walking in blackened areas, as there may still be hot spots. Stay on the roads and keep pets on leashes.

If you’re driving through the area, reduce your speed and watch for increased movement of wildlife. It’s common for wildlife to move from their home areas to avoid flames and seek new habitat. A variety of wildlife has been spotted returning in the burned-over area, including elk, deer, porcupines, turkeys and a scarlet tanager.

The fire started with a lightning strike on May 11 which smoldered for a couple of days until nearby brush, leaves and other fuels dried out enough to catch fire and spread the blaze.

To help prevent future fires, always remember to check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit regarding burn permits in your area, and follow safety suggestions on Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires.

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