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Celebrating statehood: Michigan’s state symbols

By John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

“The whisper of the forest tree, the thunder of the inland sea; unite in one grand symphony of Michigan, my Michigan.” – Giles Kavanagh

The Mackinac Bridge, connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, is one of Michigan’s signature features.

Just like in the 1963 Elvis Presley movie of the same title, it happened at the world’s fair. But it wasn’t at Seattle’s Century 21 Exposition, where the hip-shakin’ King of Rock-n-Roll not only sang and grooved in the movie, but also starred as a pilot who flew a crop-dusting plane. It was instead in Chicago, in 1893.

That’s when and where a special “National Garland of Flowers,” crafted from flowers representing each of the then 44 U.S. states, was presented at the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition to more than 27 million attendees.

This would foreshadow the inspiration of states, including Michigan, to eventually adopt representative symbols ranging from fish to fowl, cars to canines.

Today, the lists of these state symbols can be long, depending on the state, and often contain some interesting, unique and unexpected inclusions. 

For example, Maryland has an official sport, and it is jousting. The state vehicle of Texas is the chuck wagon. Just under half of our states share a state dance, and that dance is the square dance.

Even with more conventional categories, there are unexpected entries. Maine’s state “flower” is the white pine cone.

In 1996, Utah designated the beehive cluster as its official state star cluster. Wisconsin has an official state dog—the American water spaniel—while Maryland adopted the tabby as its official state cat.

But that isn’t all Massachusetts has. The Bay State is also home to a state muffin (corn), state inventor (Ben Franklin), state donut (Boston cream) and a state beverage (cranberry juice).

In fact, Massachusetts has 55 official state symbols.

Here in Michigan, like many other states, we of course have our state flag, capital, seal and coat of arms.

Most residents know our state nickname is the “Great Lakes State.” Another Michigan nickname is “The Wolverine State,” even though only one wolverine was ever known to have lived in the wild in the state. There are several theories about the moniker’s origin, but it may stem from the state’s history as a center for trade in the early trapping industry, when wolverine pelts from the north and west came through Michigan.

Many know our state motto is Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice, which means, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

The origin of Michigan’s name comes from the Ojibwa word “meicigama,” meaning “great water.” 

Beyond these, Michigan has nearly a dozen state symbols.

Sixty years after Michigan was admitted to the Union as the 26th state, and four years after the Chicago world’s fair, Michigan designated the first of these symbol—the apple blossom—as its state flower.

Schoolchildren are among the most familiar with state symbols because in many cases they have been the source of their nomination, subsequently adopted by state legislatures.

Elementary and middle school students, as well as most adults, know the robin redbreast (American robin) is the state bird (1931); the state tree is the eastern white pine (1955) and that the Petoskey stone, a fossilized coral, is Michigan’s state stone (1965).

The Michigan Legislature adopted “the trout” as the state fish (1965) before clarifying that designation as the brook trout in 1988. The state song, “My Michigan,” written by Giles Kavanagh and H. O’Reilly Clint, was adopted in 1936.

In 1973, the Isle Royale greenstone was selected as Michigan’s state gem.

From this point on, it can get more challenging for most Michiganders to continue to list our state symbols. Many of the remaining entries have been designated relatively recently.

In 1990, the Kalkaska soil series was identified as Michigan’s state soil. 

In 1995, Niles fifth-grade students mounted a successful effort to get the painted turtle named the state reptile. A group of fourth-graders worked to get the white-tailed deer selected as the state’s game animal in 1997.

In 1998, the dwarf lake iris was selected as Michigan’s state wildflower.

Schoolchildren also helped college geology professor David P. Thomas Sr. get the mastodon established as Michigan’s state fossil in 2002.

Michigan celebrates its 182nd Statehood Day birthday on Saturday. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting its own statehood birthday party at its Michigan History Museum in Lansing.

Our state’s birth story is somewhat unusual, as the path to statehood wasn’t quite as easy for Michigan as for most other states. The first Michigan Constitution was written in 1835, nearly two years before we officially became a state.

The “Toledo War” – a dispute over whether the city of Toledo was actually in Michigan or Ohio – delayed the process because the federal government wouldn’t grant Michigan statehood until the disagreement was resolved. Find out more.

Congress ultimately gave Toledo to Ohio and offered Michigan the western Upper Peninsula as a compromise, making Michigan arguably the war’s real winner, considering how valuable the U.P.’s natural resources proved to be.

With the boundary dispute settled, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill making Michigan the 26th state Jan. 26, 1837. 

To learn a great deal more about Michigan’s statehood and state symbols, visit SeekingMichigan.org/Learn.

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Kayaking Prentiss Bay

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

By Ranger Steve Mueller

For a decade I organized and led exploration outings during Labor Day Weekend. They were not the wilderness adventures where we camped with no toilets or restaurants. At Prentiss Bay off northern Lake Huron, we lodged in comfortable rooms and had great meals served in a dining hall. 

From early morning until well after dark, nature niche encounters filled our days. Early morning bird watching transitioned into nature preserve field trips from Cedarville and Drummond Island. Lake Huron’s north shore is rich with glacial drumlin islands I have weaved among in a canoe.

To provide tour participants with a new experience, I led interpretive kayak trips. Other naturalists lead canoeing and kayak outings down rivers or in lakes with a focus on paddling skill development or outdoor discovery. I desired to lead a more focused interpretive experience that I haven’t seen done by others. 

My purpose was to help people enjoy kayaking while discovering new aspects about the natural world. I kept participation to ten people. Prentiss Bay has a narrow inlet where water flushes in and out of the bay from the wide-open water of Lake Huron that reaches south to Port Huron by Sarnia. In the bay waves are usually small. Wearing life preservers, I helped each kayaker launch a kayak into calm water with instruction to paddle straight toward a tall white pine where the shoreline curved to the north. Once all were launched and hopefully becoming comfortable gliding across the water, I quickly caught up with the group. 

Upon joining the group, I put my kayak in reverse so to speak. I paddled backwards with my bow facing the group. A small group size allowed me to project my voice so all could hear. Instead of lecturing about the wonders of nature surrounding us, I helped them observe, question, and inquire about our encounters. 

Most obvious was the shoreline vegetation of fall flowers, trees and the impact of deer over browsing. White cedar trees lined the shore with green branches eaten as high as a deer could reach on hind legs. Yellow goldenrod flowers added late season color before deciduous trees ripened with golds and reds. Some maples provided red in wetlands but those on drier ground had not begun to lose their green chlorophyll. I could have spent time detailing the wonders of the life on the shore but beneath us we found richness in the water.

A dolomitic limestone bedrock underlays the bay. Since we were skirting the shoreline, we could watch fish and other aquatic inhabitants. Some organisms crawled along the bottom. Large lumps of bedrock projected from the water. Each was pitted with holes making the surface look like the inside of an egg carton. Hundreds of shallow holes covered rock surfaces. Observers were challenged to determine what caused such microtopography. It did not take long for some to determine that water sitting in small depressions dissolved rock to create pits. People discovered favorite gull perches by noticing whitewash deposits that dissolved rock. 

At the north end of the bay, I led the group through reeds projecting above the water surface. I knew what they would encounter as we glided through the plants but they did not. I let them know there was no danger. We could see easily through stiff pointed green grass-like stems to the shoreline. Water movement in the shallow water caused the firmly anchored plants to wave to passing birds.

It wasn’t long before our explorers were voicing anxiety about spiders crawling on the kayaks and on them. I assured them these spiders were not capable of biting them but many were still uncomfortable in the presence of arachnids. We pondered how the numerous spiders established residence on the scattered reeds far from shore. 

Green darner dragonflies hovered, darted, and fed among the offshore greenery. Many other waterway life form encounters enriched our experience. We reached the inlet to Prentiss Bay where we needed to cross to our landing. Waves were mild but larger than we had encountered. I had kayakers line up beside my kayak so mine would break the waves to make it easier for them. My kayak lessened wave height and with others in a row beside me, they could paddle calmer water. It was a good plan but each year it never worked. People were not able to hold their position. Regardless, they enjoyed the interpretive outing and no one dumped. 

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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Wolf poaching incidents resolved

gray wolf
A gray wolf shot in Ontonagon County Saturday is shown. A Greenland Michigan man has admitted to shooting the animal with a rifle. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan conservation officers obtained confessions Tuesday from two Upper Peninsula men suspected in separate, unrelated wolf poaching incidents in Ontonagon and Menominee counties.

Prosecuting attorneys are reviewing details of the two cases, with decisions on specific charges to be brought expected soon. Gray wolves are a protected species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and as such, can only legally be killed in defense of human safety.

The names of the men—a 58-year-old from Greenland and a 67-year-old from Menominee Township—are being withheld pending their arraignments in the respective county district courts.

“Wolves are examples of important wildlife species that play a critical predator role in the ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, a district law supervisor in Marquette. “Our conservation officers did some great work in obtaining confessions from these two individuals who killed wolves collared for study purposes by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.”

On Monday, DNR Wildlife Division personnel said they had received a mortality signal from the collar of an adult female wolf in Ontonagon County. Sgt. Marc Pomroy and DNR Conservation Officer Zach Painter went to the site, which was located off Gardner Road in Greenland Township.

“We gathered some information at the scene, and we conducted suspect interviews the following day,” Painter said. “During those discussions, the suspect admitted he shot the animal with a rifle, which we seized as part of the investigation.”

In Menominee County, a mortality signal was received from a 1-year-old male wolf on Nov. 19 (during the firearm deer hunting season).

“I retrieved the collar later that day from a place along River Road in Lake Township,” said DNR Conservation Officer Jeremy Sergey. “The collar was intact, covered in blood, but was not attached to a wolf.”

After searching a vast area, and conducting numerous interviews, the officers developed several suspects by the following day.

In an interview with conservation officers this week, the same day the confession was obtained in the Ontonagon County case, the man from Menominee Township confessed to killing the wolf. He was one of the original suspects developed in November.

The DNR investigates and pursues vigorous prosecution of any wolf poaching cases. Illegally killing a wolf is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and the cost of prosecution.

Suspected poaching violations may be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

Wolves killed in poaching incidents are typically sent to the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing, where necropsies are performed.

For more information on wolves, visit Michigan.gov/Wolves.

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Christmas Bird Count 2018

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Thirty-six field observers and five bird feeder watchers saw 58 species of birds (Table 1) on December 29, 2018. 

Total individuals sighted were 6,909 compared with last year’s 6,161 but both years are down from the previous two years when 9,342 and 11,246 were sighted. A number of variables might explain the lower numbers during the most recent counts. Weather conditions were not dramatically different on count day in those years. There were more count participants during the two years with higher sightings. 

I have not calculated the number of birds sighted per observer hour but that might partly explain the variation in numbers of birds observed. More counters provide better section coverage and hopefully additional eyes improve the number of sightings. Encouraging greater participation could help increase both numbers of birds and species seen. 

Partly cloudy weather began the day but clouds increased to full overcast as the day progressed. Temperature was nearly constant between 26º and 29ºF. There was little snow coverage but enough to whiten the ground. Still and moving waters were mostly open.

We totaled 56 hours in vehicles traveling 495 miles. Sixteen hours were spent on foot covering 17 miles and 10 hours at feeders. A combined total of 512 miles was on foot and driving. Groups totaled 83 hours of daytime birding. There were 16 birding parties in the morning and 12 in the afternoon with 5 feeder watchers.

In the predawn, 14 miles were traveled during 2.5 hours with successful owling to find four Barred Owls and one Great Horned Owl. 

Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center (WWC) co-hosted the count with our club. We appreciate use of the facility as our base station. Visit and enjoy the WWC trails and perhaps you will get to see the Evening Grosbeaks. This species has been rare in our region for several years. 

Mark your calendars for December 28, 2019 to participate in the 2019 Christmas Bird Count. It will help you see several species that you probably will not regularly see. It will provide an opportunity to be outdoors with people that will assist with identification and locating birds in their nature niches to make your day enjoyable. Participants can attend for part of the day to the entire day. 

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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Largemouth bass virus confirmed in additional lakes 

Dead smallmouth bass recently were found in Beaver Lake (Alpena County, Michigan), in part due to the largemouth bass virus. DNR photo.

The largemouth bass virus (LMBV) has been found in two additional lakes in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, following an initial discovery this past October in Cedar Lake (Iosco County). This time LMBV was found in smallmouth bass in Beaver Lake (Alpena County) during the investigation of a fish kill and in Avalon Lake (Montmorency County). These latest discoveries indicate the virus is spreading northward in Michigan.

Prior to this fall, the virus previously affected adult largemouth bass in the early 2000s in southern Michigan lakes. In those lakes the pathogen killed 10 to 20 percent of the larger adult largemouth bass at first exposure, with populations recovering in a few years. The virus has been found in other species including smallmouth bass, bluegill and black crappie in that part of the state. Bluegill and black crappie are known to be carriers but do not die from this virus.

“The largemouth bass virus likely compromised the immune system of smallmouth bass in Beaver Lake, causing secondary bacterial infections to become more lethal and allowed the virus to be a direct factor in the fish kill,” said Gary Whelan, the DNR Fisheries Division’s research manager. “Because these latest detections are at the northern edge of where LMBV has been found, we may see different responses than what was documented in southern Michigan.”

LMBV is one of more than 100 naturally occurring viruses that affect fish and is closely related to viruses found in frogs and other amphibians. Its origin and methods of spreading are unknown, but anglers are considered a likely transmission path. Anyone moving live, infected fish from one body of water to another, or using contaminated or unclean gear or boats in uninfected waters could easily spread the virus. LMBV is not known to infect humans, and infected fish, if thoroughly cooked, are safe to eat.

LMBV usually causes fish kills during periods when fish are most stressed. Potential stressors include very hot weather, increased recreational fishing, and possibly aquatic weed or other treatments made during hot weather. Anything that can be done to minimize stress on fish will reduce the effects of this virus and subsequent fish deaths.

There are few outward signs that a fish has LMBV. The virus has been found in lakes where no disease or fish kills have been reported. Affected fish usually appear normal, although they may be lethargic, swim slowly and be less responsive to activity around them. Dying fish often are seen near the surface and have difficulty remaining upright. Upon internal examination, infected fish usually have bloated and yellowish swim bladders.

Largemouth bass virus cannot be eradicated from lakes and infected fish cannot be treated. The best way to halt the virus is by anglers and boaters properly cleaning their equipment and doing their part to prevent the spread. Simple steps include:

*Cleaning all fishing equipment between trips.

*Not moving fish or fish parts from one body of water to another.

*Handling bass gently if you intend to release them.

*Refraining from keeping bass in live wells for long periods of time if you plan to release them.

*Minimizing the targeting of largemouth bass during very hot weather.

*Reporting dead or dying adult largemouth bass, particularly when they are in numbers of 25 or larger. Reports can be made online at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField.

For more information on fish diseases, visit the DNR webpage Michigan.gov/FishHealth.

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Don’t forget about mandatory muskie harvest registration

Snowmobile and fishing shanty on a frozen lake. Photo by DNR.

With Michigan’s ice-fishing season well underway, the DNR reminds anglers who harvest a muskellunge that there is mandatory registration. The muskie harvest limit is one fish per angler per license year.

A muskellunge harvest must be reported within 24 hours of the catch. Reports can be made online through the DNR’s Harvest Reporting System at michigan.gov/registerfish, toll-free by calling 844-345-FISH (3474), or in person at any DNR Customer Service Center during normal state business hours and with advanced notice of arrival.

Fisheries managers use the registration information to evaluate muskie harvest across the state, helping them better manage those fish populations.

The general possession season for muskellunge is open through March 15 for all Great Lakes and inland waters and the St. Mary’s River. For more information, check out the 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide at michigan.gov/fishingguide or contact Cory Kovacs, 906-293-5131, ext. 4071 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

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Insect Growth

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Kids change as they grow. Some change more than others. 

Monarch butterflies are worm-like creatures when they’re kids but as adults they have bright orange wings with black veins that serve as rigid support between a thin, scale-covered membrane that allows them lift for flight. Its growth process is referred to as complete metamorphosis with an egg, larva, chrysalis, and adult form. Milkweed bugs that feed on the same milkweed plant as monarchs, appear much like adults with the exception that adults develop wings that lay flat on their backs. The youth are called nymphs and have gradual metamorphosis from egg to nymph to adult instead of egg, larvae, pupa or chrysalis, to adult. 

When an aphid comes out of the egg it looks like a tiny version of the adult like the milkweed bug does. The aphid has a sucking mouth part, six legs, oval body, and two tiny spike-like projections rising from its rear end. Its eyes and antennae are like those of the adult’s. It sucks juices from a plant and grows, it will shed its outer skeleton that protects fragile inner body parts as it grows. A new soft skeleton forms inside the more rigid outer one. The rigid one splits allowing the insect to escape the old and the new soft one will expand with air before it hardens allowing room for internal growth. The shedding of exoskeletons will continue as the aphid grows to adulthood when it can reproduce. Gradual metamorphosis results with kids looking similar to adults.

Wooly aphids grow in a similar manner but secrete a waxy white covering over their bodies that hides their appearance. They live in masses like the more typical aphids you might see on plants in the garden or even on plants in your home. Many people have learned to use mild soap water to remove aphids from leaves if they are abundant enough to cause leaf wilting. Soap is a better alternative than insecticides. 

The woolly aphids are a chosen food for harvester butterfly caterpillars. The small butterfly is about the size of a nickel when wings are folded over its back and it lays eggs on alder shrubs where the wooly aphids live. When the egg hatches, the caterpillar crawls among aphids covering its body with the waxy secretion made by aphids to hide among its juicy prey. It has three tiny pairs of legs at its front end and fleshy prolegs farther back on its body that are not true legs. They are fleshy projects that help it move its worm-like body among the aphids it eats. Fluid is pumped in and out of the bulbous prolegs to make them function like legs. 

The harvester has a leathery exoskeleton that will split allowing the insect to crawl out when it gets too tight. The new one will expand from internal air pressure before hardening. When ready to transform to the winged reproductive adult, its growth process changes dramatically from that of an aphid or milkweed bug. It will form a chrysalis under its final caterpillar leathery skeleton and wiggle out of the youthful protective covering.

There it transforms to the winged adult. When the inner body transforms from a caterpillar, it will emerge from the chrysalis with tiny soft wings and a large liquid filled body. Fluid from the body is pumped into hollow veins of the wings causing them to expand like flat plates. The fluid hardens in the veins providing wing support needed for the butterfly to fly through its neighborhood to mate and lay eggs for new generations to continue.

The aphid and milkweed bug have gradual metamorphosis where the youth look much like the adult. The growth of insects that transform with a dramatically different appearance like bees, butterflies, and beetles is complete metamorphosis. A third type of metamorphosis is called incomplete and is seen in insects like the dragonflies where young are dramatically different from the adults, are called naiads, and lack a pupal stage.

Dragonfly naiads live in the water with a body form significantly different from flying adults. The kids breathing apparatus and mouth parts are uniquely adapted to different habitat nature niches than the air flying adults. The naiads are active in streams during winter. Incomplete and gradual metamorphosis are sometimes lumped together with only having egg, nymph/naiad, adult stages. They are different enough to be considered separate forms of metamorphosis. Insects with gradual metamorphosis live in a similar manner to adults as opposed to the greatly different life style of those like dragonfly kids and adults with incomplete metamorphosis. Insect kids grow with gradual, incomplete, or complete metamorphosis. 

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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Armchair Naturalist

By Ranger Steve Mueller

I am becoming more of an armchair naturalist and I expect other senior nature explorers are finding that necessary. I appreciate the inquiries and well wishes I have received. On bird count Saturday I planned to arrive for the intro and head home for a family day celebrating Christmas with relatives. I became quite ill Thursday and could not start the bird count. By Sunday, family convinced me I needed to go to hospital emergency at 10:30 p.m. I had been doing well for three weeks but I spent most of our family gathering in bed ill. Bummer.

The good news is I am rebounding on disgusting drugs. I spend more time birding from my window and saw a male Cooper’s Hawk on January 1. Good start for 2019. My friend Greg Petersen drives us to good birding locations. I continue with productive work even though I am limited in too many ways. I am working on completing Bryce Canyon National Park moth research with specimens I brought home for study and hope to complete the project this winter and present results at University of California Davis in July. There are still several field studies in progress. Like other people, I have too much to complete to die soon but cancer might dictate other plans. We each have our own health issues, whether it be heart, diabetes, or one of the multitude. Mine has a different name but yours might be as challenging to contend with. My best wishes for you for 2019 and hope we each make it through another successful, productive, and enjoyable year exploring nature niches.

When first diagnosed at age 47, survival expectations were 1 to 3 years. My multiple myeloma cancer is not curable but treatments can prolong life. I had ten years of smoldering MM before I was disabled and unable to continue employment. I needed a walker because of 7 spinal fractures and now can walk again. My skull is riddled with holes and bones are brittle. I now have ten fractures and getting out of bed can break bones. My last break was the fibula when I stood up during a butterfly survey. With the two bone marrow transplants and the current clinical trial, I have exceeded the survival mean. Survival is now 7 to 8 years. A couple others have been in the program as long but I am in the top survival group. Doctors count from when treatment begins and consider me in year 11. I count from diagnosis and that is 21 years. I have made it to age 68 and University of Chicago hospital oncology staff regularly comment on my longevity. My message is, work to stay positive and continue productive work that is meaningful for life. Chemo is important but I consider support received from you and my work in the sanctuary to enhance biodiversity equally vital. 

Though Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary is our private property, we open it for visits. I have always disliked “No Trespassing” signs. We ask people to call or e-mail to let me know when they would like to visit and we request respect for creatures whose homes are entered. Donations to assist with biodiversity enhancement are welcome. We have not charged people for access like a business and we are not a tax-exempt nonprofit. We pay for projects with my pension and I hire youth like people hire high schoolers to shovel their sidewalks. Volunteer assistance is welcome. V&V Nursery across the road has allowed parking for sanctuary access.

People are welcome to walk the sanctuary on their own or with me if timing works. Walk the 1.5 miles of trails where I have placed interpretive signs and perhaps hear the Barred Owl or see the Red-tailed or Cooper’s Hawks. Wild turkeys might show themselves. My hearing has gotten poor from chemo and age so I appreciate help from those that hear birds. If you are only up to birding from a stationary location, come and enjoy the dozen + or – bird species we see at our feeders. I watched a Pileated Woodpecker from my window as it drilled a fifth hole in a cherry tree last week. A Great Blue Heron was flushed at the creek a couple weeks ago.

We are not a nature center with a primary mission of natural history education. I was director at both the local Howard Christensen Nature Center in North Kent County where I encourage you to become a member and at the Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center in Lowell. Visit Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids. All provide family and school education programs. Here at Ody Brook our mission is biodiversity enhancement but I lead special focus group programs for a fee.

Enjoy what works for you and the family when exploring the wonders of nature. Bird, insect, and wildflower explorers, deer hunters and anglers are important for helping people learn better ways to enhance biodiversity so a healthy future is present for coming generations of life. 

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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DNR welcomes new director

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced appointments for several state agencies, including Daniel Eichinger, who joins the DNR as the department’s new director.

Daniel Eichinger, 
new DNR director

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced appointments for several state agencies, including Daniel Eichinger, who joins the DNR as the department’s new director.

Eichinger most recently served as executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the nation’s most effective state-based conservation organization. In that role, he led MUCC’s return as a driving force for conservation and our outdoor heritage. Under his leadership, MUCC revamped its organizational structure, grew membership and launched new programs to connect people with nature.

From 2007 to 2012, he worked in various capacities with the Department of Natural Resources, first as legislative liaison, where he was heavily involved in passing the innovative Recreation Passport to fund state parks. Later, he helped establish the first Policy and Regulations Unit for the agency’s Wildlife Division.

Gov. Whitmer called Eichinger “a trusted leader in the conservation of Michigan’s abundant natural resources and outdoor heritage” and someone who “has the broad experience needed to bring innovative ideas and also successful implementation of conservation efforts and recreation opportunities here in the state.”

Eichinger, who holds bachelors and masters degrees in fisheries and wildlife from Michigan State University, as well as a masters of public administration, is eager to get started in this new role.

“Conservation is a team sport,” he said. “I look forward to working with our partners to continue the thoughtful stewardship of the extraordinary natural and cultural resources that so deeply define us as Michiganders.”

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Youth small game hunt in Belding Jan. 19

Looking to get your young hunter out this winter? Join us for a youth small game hunt Jan. 19 at the Flat River State Game Area in Belding.

Photo courtesy of the DNR.

This free event will be held at the Belding Sportsman’s Club, located at 10651 Youngman Road. Breakfast will start at 7:30 a.m., and lunch will also be provided. Raffle prizes will be available for youth hunters.

All parties must have at least one hunter under the age of 17. Preregistration is required before Jan. 15. Please call 616-794-2658 to save a spot.

This event wouldn’t be possible without the great partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, Mid-Michigan United Sportsmen’s Alliance, Belding Sportsman’s Club, Michigan Squirrel Dog Association and QDMA of Montcalm County.

We hope to see you there!

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