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Rain catching leaves

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


Recently it was brought to my attention how events in nature frequently slip past me without notice. In the book A Year in the Maine Woods, Bernd Heinrich noted water droplets bead on the undersurface of fallen leaves during a rain if they land bottom side up. I have noticed water beads on leaves but had not noticed them being restricted to the lower surface. 

After the next rain, I investigated while walking the back 40. The upper surfaces were evenly wet while clusters of silvery bead beauties radiated light from the bottom surfaces. I should have noticed this sometime during the past six decades. If I had, it did not register in the recesses of my memory. 

A friend that teaches botany at a local university told me he had not noticed it either. It is amazing how everyday events escape our attention. 

I had not mentioned it to Karen but a couple weeks later she made the discovery herself. She decided to capture the richness of water drops on fallen leaves. Thousands of leaves covered the ground and a recent rain insured there would be drops on leaves. She headed out with high hopes and camera in hand. 

She found leaves with water beads on the duller bottom surfaces and continued the search for beads on bright red upper surfaces. She found leaf upper surfaces she wanted to photograph but they lacked water beads. The water evenly covered those surfaces enhancing a red gleam. Her search failed to find leaves having bright upper surfaces with tiny silver domes. Only duller lower surfaces held droplets.

She shared her discovery with me and I told her that I had recently made the discovery after being alerted to it by reading about it first. It was wonderful she made the discovery independently through careful observation while exploring outdoors. I wish I were as observant as her. 

After sharing with many people, I have been asked why one surface holds beads and the other does not. I am not completely sure but I have a good hypothesis that needs testing. The upper surface of leaves has a thick waxy cuticle that helps prevent water loss when exposed to sun and wind. The lower surface is more protected from direct drying by sun. Wind moving air across the pitted lower surface of leaves has better protection. 

We are familiar with how moving air causes “wind chill” by sweeping heat away from our skin to make the temperature feel cooler. It hastens water evaporation from our skin causing rapid heat loss. 

The bottom surface of leaves is covered with tiny pores called stomatas, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. The pores create a rough surface compared with the smooth waxy upper surface. I suspect the rough surface holds water droplets while the smooth upper leaf allows the water to flow easily. 

For those of us observing nature niches in our backyards, it is amazing how much we walk past without notice. Exercise your observations skills and have fun challenging friends and family to make new discoveries. There is always something we have passed unnoticed.

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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Veterans waterfowl preference hunts


Veterans preference drawings will take place on Nov. 11 or 12 for properly licensed resident active-duty U.S. military personnel and veterans. The following documentation, along with a valid Michigan driver’s license or voter registration card, will be accepted as proof of status: military ID, leave papers, duty papers, military orders, copy of DD Form 214, enhanced driver’s license or documentation from the Veterans Administration regarding disability status. If you were discharged from the Army or Air Force National Guard, you may provide a copy of NGB Form 22 or NGB Form 23.

To be eligible for the veterans preference draw, single hunters must be active-duty military personnel or veterans; party hunters must have at least one member in their party that is active-duty military or a veteran. The daily limits and species restrictions are the same as those allowed in the regular waterfowl hunting season. Participants must also possess a waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp.

  • Fish Point – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts)
  • Harsens Island – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts)
  • Muskegon County Wastewater – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts)
  • Nayanquing Point – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts)
  • Shiawassee River – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts)
  • Pointe Mouillee – Nov. 12 (a.m. and p.m. hunts)

Questions?  Call 517-284-WILD (9453)

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Tips for a safe, enjoyable hunting season

As the Nov. 15 firearm deer season opener nears, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers encourage hunters to brush up on safety tips and hunting regulations to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience.

“Firearm deer season is a special time of year in Michigan,” Cpl. Dave Painter said. “It brings family and friends together in celebration of our state’s great outdoor heritage. Staying safe, knowing the laws and being good stewards of our resources will help hunters have a memorable outing.”

Painter reminds hunters that a mandatory deer check is in place within certain areas of the state due to the confirmation of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. Hunters harvesting a deer in these CWD areas must bring it to a DNR check station within 72 hours. Visit mi.gov/deercheck for a map and list of check stations.

Regardless of where deer are harvested in Michigan, the DNR encourages all hunters to voluntarily take them to the nearest check station to help with disease surveillance. In addition, big-game hunters who travel outside of Michigan should be aware of new regulations restricting the importation of harvested cervids. 

Painter also offered the following general safety tips:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Keep your finger away from the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
  • Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire.
  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing.
  • Know the identifying features of the game you hunt.
  • Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
  • Unload the firearm before running, climbing a fence or tree, or jumping a ditch.
  • Wear a safety harness when hunting from an elevated platform.  Use a haul line to bring the unloaded firearm up and down the raised platform.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages or behavior-altering medicines or drugs before or during a hunt.
  • Always wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange, visible from all sides, during daylight hunting hours, even if hunting on private land. The law also applies to archery hunters during firearm season.
  • Make sure at least 50 percent of any camouflage pattern being worn is in hunter orange.
  • Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you become injured or lost.
  • Carry a cell phone into the woods. Not only does it let you call for help if necessary, but newer phones emit a signal that can help rescuers locate you. Also consider downloading a compass or flashlight app.
  • Program the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) line (800-292-7800) in your phone contacts so you can alert conservation officers to any natural resources violations you may witness.

“These are simple, common-sense tips that can help prevent accidents and save lives,” Painter said. “The DNR encourages all hunters to review the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest for other essential information before taking to the field.”

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

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Value of wild places

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


In 1975, I began sharing my passion for preserving what is now known as Grand Staircase National Monument. It was established in 1996 using the Antiquities Act. I have been presenting a program titled “Wilderness, Unique Treasure” advocating for wilderness protection for that area and others for 42 years. Thanks to efforts by Theodore Roosevelt over a century ago, the Antiquities Act was created allowing presidents to create national monuments on publicly owned land to protect and preserve areas for present and future generations. Congress then has authority to make it a national park, leave it as a monument or eliminate it.

Roosevelt established national forests as another means for maintaining economic, social and environmental sustainability. Michigan has national and state forests with wilderness areas within them.

The Bureau of Land Management is another agency charged with protecting and managing public lands. Each is governed by you and your neighbors collectively under the name government. When using the term government, think of it as you and your neighbors instead of some nebulous thing called government. 

My wilderness program is based on a book written by Aldo Leopold who was designated as the most outstanding conservationist of the 20th century. In “A Sand County Almanac,” he shared the significance for preserving remnant wilderness areas for recreation, science, and wildlife. 

My program, with photographic slides, includes prose and poetry and is accompanied by Leopold’s reasoning for preserving wilderness. It is my most popular and well-received program. Email me for a program brochure and request your organization to invite me to present. Wilderness protection is of immediate concern. 

You and neighbors are represented by a majority in the US House and Senate that are considering proposed legislation to prevent establishment of new national parks and to give the president authority to reduce the size of current parks without Congress approval so they can be mined for oil, coal, and be timbered. Congress and the judicial branches represent you and neighbors to limit the president from making unilateral decisions that only represent him and a limited number of people. The public comment period regarding the issue had 99 percent of 2.8 million comments say leave the parks alone. The three branches representing you and neighbors protects from dictatorial decisions by those expected to represent all Americans and not just 1 percent.

Presidents, like other elected people, tend to represent a limited number of people instead of representing all Americans through compromise. Presidential actions are balanced by Congress and Judicial branches representing you. When Congress struggles to protect your inalienable rights, it requires compromise to meet the desires of the real government that I refer to as you and your neighbors. Our current president stated Congress and Judicial branches prevent him from accomplishing work he wants done and he wants authority to make decisions without their approval. That would move us towards dictatorial leadership. 

Aldo Leopold who was an avid hunter and advocate for protecting wilderness stated: “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away them.” Now, we face the question whether a still higher standard of living is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free. For us in the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech. 

Elected officials should represent all of us and appoint agency heads that focus on agency missions. They should be staffed with skilled people that make decisions based on the agency mission for present and future generations. My program will help provide understanding on why Roosevelt and Leopold advocated for protecting parks and wilderness. Hopefully, you will agree with them. Not only is Utah’s Grand Staircase threatened with elimination but parks across America might lose protected status. National Parks have been said to be America’s best idea. 

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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Catch of the Week

Braun Bender, the son of Brant and Leslie Bender, of Cedar Springs, is 7 years old and loves to spend time fishing with his grandfather, James Bender. Thanks to the Cedar Springs Cub Scouts and a patient papa and father, Braun has learned the finer skills of fishing and has grown into quite the independent fisherman. Now to get him to actually enjoy eating his catch! Braun is shown here with his catch of the day, two bluegills.

Congratulations, Braun, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

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New reservation policy at state parks


Will give more campers better opportunities at sites 

A new DNR camping reservation policy that will help make it easier for more people to secure campsites in Michigan state parks further in advance, takes effect Nov. 1. Camping reservations can be booked up to six months ahead of time at www.midnrreservations.com.

In an effort to make it easier for more people to have a chance at securing campsites at many of the state’s most-visited parks, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has put in place a new policy that encourages people to firm up their reservations further in advance of their planned camping dates. The new sliding modification and cancellation structure takes effect Nov. 1.

Campers still can make reservations up to six months in advance. Under the current policy, the cost to cancel or modify a camping reservation is $10. The new structure still will include the $10 modification and cancellation fee, but also will include an additional incremental fee based on the length of time between the date the initial reservation was made and the planned arrival date. That incremental fee will be determined by the length of time a reservation is held:

*Reservations held for up to two months: 10 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held for between two to three months: 15 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held for between three and four months: 20 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held for between four and five months: 30 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held longer than five months: 40 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

Note: There will not be a fee to modify a reservation that adds camp nights.

Rather than holding onto several blocks of campsites at a campground – or in some cases, multiple campgrounds – the new policy incentivizes campers to finalize their plans as soon as possible.

“We are updating the current policy to encourage campers with reservations to make any necessary changes to their travel plans much earlier in the process, which opens up more sites for others who currently may experience difficulty finding space at our more popular campgrounds,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “Rather than waiting for cancellations that may or may not happen close to their own desired travel dates, more campers will find that the new reservation policy will give them access to a variety of sites much earlier.”

For more information on camping opportunities and pricing, visit  www.michigan.gov/camping. Camping reservations can be booked up to six months in advance at Michigan state parks. Campers are encouraged to visit  www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757) to check on availability. Remaining camping spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact Jason Fleming, chief of the Resource Management Section in the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, at 517-284-6098 or flemingj@michigan.gov.

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Catch of the Week

Mya Hendges shows off her sunfish

The children of Rick and Amber Hendges, of Solon Township, have been reeling in some nice catches. 

Mya Hendges, age 9, caught this nice sunfish while fishing with her grandparents in Trufant. 

Hunter Hendges caught a pike.

Hunter Hendges, age 11, caught this pike while fishing in Trufant at his great-grandma’s house. 

Kylee Hendges, age 6, caught this nice blue gill while fishing with her grandparents in Trufant. Kylee loves to fish. She baits her own hook and even takes her own fish off!  

Kylee Hendges is proud of her blue gill.

Great job, Mya, Hunter, and Kylee! You made the Post Catch of the Week!


It’s back—get out those cameras!

It’s that time of year again when anglers big and small like to tell their fish tales! Send us a photo and story of your first, best, funniest, biggest, or even your smallest catch. Include your name, age, address, and phone number, along with the type and size of fish, and where caught.  We can’t wait to hear from you! Photos published as space allows. Photos/stories may be sent by email to news@cedarspringspost.com with Catch of the Week in the subject line, or mail to: Catch of the Week, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


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Another Montcalm deer suspected to have CWD

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced on Tuesday, October 24, that a second hunter-harvested deer in Montcalm County is suspected positive for chronic wasting disease. A sample has been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation. If confirmed positive, the 1.5-year-old buck, harvested in Sidney Township, would be the 11th free-ranging deer in Michigan found to have CWD.

“The fact that we already have another positive deer within Montcalm County is of major concern,” said Dr. Kelly Straka, DNR state wildlife veterinarian. “We strongly recommend hunters who harvest deer in Montcalm County have their deer tested. Deer with CWD can look perfectly healthy even though they are infected.”

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans. 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. 

Since May 2015 when the first CWD deer was found, the DNR has tested more than 15,000 deer. Thus far, 10 cases of CWD have been confirmed in free-ranging white-tailed deer from Clinton, Ingham and Montcalm counties.

As additional deer have tested positive for CWD within Michigan, the DNR has put specific regulations in place. This deer was harvested in the Montcalm-Kent Core CWD Area, which includes Maple Valley, Pine, Douglass, Montcalm, Sidney, Eureka, and Fairplain townships in Montcalm County; and Spencer and Oakfield townships in Kent County. Starting Nov. 15, this nine-township area will have mandatory deer check.

As announced previously, the DNR will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25, 6 to 8 p.m. in the Ash Foundation Building, located within the Montcalm County Fairgrounds at 8784 Peck Road in Greenville, Michigan.

At the meeting, Dr. Straka and DNR deer specialist Chad Stewart will provide information on chronic wasting disease, its effects on deer and deer populations, and DNR actions to date in responding to the discovery of the disease. Dr. Cheryl Collins, veterinarian from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, will be present to provide information and answer questions related to farmed deer.

Chronic wasting disease 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 from 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. 

To learn more about CWD, visit mi.gov/cwd

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Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


The growing season is senescing. In the temperate region, it would seem that most plant life grows old at the same time and dies. Many species complete their adult life cycle by late fall. It appears life comes to an end with death surrounding us until new life and growth resurges in the spring.  

No more strawberries, raspberries, or apples to harvest. Fortunately, we are still able to pick and enjoy apples late into fall in our backyard tree. Deer also enjoy them. The raspberries are gone by late summer. Strawberries from the garden are a distant memory from early summer. Each plant has its own moment in the sun. 

Growth and life cycles in nature niches are linked with day length. More accurately I should refer to night length. It is the hours of darkness that most influences the timing of annual flowering and fruit production. As the hours of darkness increase during the fall, senescence advances.

When the girls were young, we had a wonderful raspberry garden in the front yard and a strawberry patch in the backyard. Raspberries seemed to attack with serious thorns when we tried to harvest fruit. Strawberries were not defensive in that manner but required more bending. As the girls aged, we added what I called patch gardens. They were small 4 by 6-foot flower gardens that were their responsibility. It was a good way to introduce them to the value of caring for life. They selected the plants they wanted to grow.

Plants in our produce garden served some nutrition needs and the flower gardens were feasted on by eyes. Besides glorious feasting for our eyes, flower gardens provided food for small neighbors like bees and butterflies. They attracted birds and small mammals into view that enriched our lives. 

When I was young, my mother was busy in fall canning tomatoes and other produce in Kerr jars. She aged and her own senescence arrived. A few years ago, we emptied her residence and found Kerr jars that were passed on to others. Canning from personal gardens is done by fewer people now in this age of economic richness. 

People complain about the bad economy but nearly all families have more economic resources than families had 60 years ago. People now afford warmer homes, more travel, an abundance of electronic gadgets, outrageously priced phones and service instead of party phone lines. Many have phones for each family member instead of several families sharing a party line. We have more clothes than needed and most kids no longer go to school with patches sown on pants except for stylish appearance. Most can afford to buy food and do not need to grow their own. Today, many grow food to avoid pesticides and herbicides. Our apple tree is chemical free providing healthy apples.

Looking beyond our personal needs, we see wild neighbors struggle to survive in balance with natural life cycle influences of season, precipitation, soil nutrients, predators, necessary plants and animal associates. Fall signals, it is time for plants to senesce. Their demise is hastened some years by an early killing frost. This year, frost delayed to late October. Plants still progressed with their aging and decline. 

Metabolic activity and cell growth came to a season’s end without a killing frost. Many plants die to the ground and store personal produce in roots for a spring resurgence. The roots and stems of others die completely but their kind survives because they leave behind seeds to replenish the Earth. 

Senescence comes to us all. Along the way we can experience and enjoy the abundance and variety of life when we allow wild neighbors to provide real richness in our lives. As I pen this, red leaves on maples, yellow on cherries and maroon on oaks signal the annual passage of time. I wonder how many more cycles of color and falling leaves I will experience. 

It is always sad to see summer go but I have great hope and anticipation for spring that I am sure will come.

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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New state record cisco caught

Michael Lemanski holding his state-record cisco (formerly known as lake herring).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed last week that a new state-record had been set for the fish known as cisco (formerly known as lake herring). This marks the second state-record fish caught in 2017.

The fish was caught Friday, June 9, at 10 a.m. by Michael Lemanski of Florence, Wisconsin, on Lake Ottawa in Iron County in the western Upper Peninsula. Lemanski was still-fishing with a homemade jig. The fish weighed 6.36 pounds and measured 21.8 inches.

Jennifer Johnson, a DNR fisheries biologist in Crystal Falls, verified the record.

Robert Rogers, of Hartford, Wisconsin, set the previous state-record for cisco (lake herring) in 1992, when he caught one while trolling the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. That fish weighed 5.4 pounds and measured 25 inches.

“Although this fish was caught in June, we only recently verified it as a state record,” said Gary Whelan, the DNR’s fisheries research manager. “The reason for the delay stemmed from the fact we wanted to ensure this fish was not a hybrid between a cisco and a lake whitefish. These fish look extremely similar so we gathered DNA from the fish to test its compatibility with what we know about cisco. That test, done by Michigan State University, proved to be a match.”

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

To view a current list of Michigan state-record fish visit  michigan.gov/staterecordfish.

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