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Tag Archive | "Department of Natural Resources"

Enjoy Michigan’s ‘Summer Free Fishing Weekend’ June 9-10

The Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone the annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10. On that weekend, everyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Since 1986, Michigan has annually celebrated the Summer Free Fishing Weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and the sheer fun of fishing. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing go hand in hand.

“This summer’s Free Fishing Weekend is a great way to get outdoors and experience some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “Fishing is such an affordable activity – anyone can pursue it – so get out this June and try it yourself, for free!”

To encourage involvement in Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others.

There’s still plenty of time for communities to plan their own Free Fishing Weekend events, or to find an activity occurring nearby. Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing for all things related to this unique weekend, including help on event planning and promotion, a registration form for official events, and a chart identifying activity locations.

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.

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Firearm deer season makes gains

The Department of Natural Resources has indicated the 2011 firearm deer season harvest appears to have increased slightly compared to the 2010 season. Southern Michigan is the only region where final firearm harvest figures are expected to decrease. Preliminary estimates are based on cumulative reports from the field, license sales figures, and check station activity, and are later replaced by the final harvest figures generated using the annual mail survey.

Experiences can differ widely even within regions, but DNR biologists estimate the harvest compared to 2010 was unchanged to up perhaps 10 percent across the Upper Peninsula, likely increased in the Northern Lower Peninsula by as much as 10 percent, and the southern Lower Peninsula appeared down 5 to 10 percent.

License sales through opening day of the firearm season showed a 2 to 3 percent decrease compared to 2010. “That typically reflects expected final license sales figures and hunting activity through the end of the full hunting season,” said DNR Deer Program Leader Brent Rudolph, “but we saw more than the usual number of hunters purchasing a license after opening day. Perhaps a somewhat slow start to the season encouraged more hunters to try their hand later on.”

Check station activity was also initially less than last year, but increased traffic saw some locations meet or exceed their marks from 2010 as the season progressed.

As expected, with the mild conditions experienced in the previous two winters, deer numbers in both the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula look to be slowly increasing following prior declines. Ashley Hippler, DNR Deer Program biologist for the northern regions, noted, “deer in these regions are not as abundant as they were in the 1990s, but deer sightings were generally up even though hunter numbers appeared down compared to 2010.”

Deer from throughout the state were reported to be in good condition, as indicated by overall observations and measurements of antler development collected at check stations.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts our hunters make to bring deer to our check stations located throughout the state,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division. “These data are important to our deer program, but check station visits also provide valuable opportunities to gather hunter impressions and feedback and even celebrate the annual traditions built around Michigan deer hunting.”

Rudolph emphasized the annual mail survey completed once all deer seasons are concluded provides the final estimates of harvest and participation over all deer seasons, including the firearm season. Preliminary estimates last year projected the firearm harvest ranged from a 15 percent decrease to 10 percent increase by region, while the final mail survey indicated a slightly less than 6 percent drop in deer taken during firearm season statewide.

For more information about hunting opportunities in Michigan, to fill out your 2011 deer hunting survey, or for additional information about deer, go online to www.michigan.gov/deer.

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DNR Wildlife Chief Russ Mason honored by peers

Russ Mason

Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason has been honored with the Professional Award of Merit from the North Central Section of the Wildlife Society. Mason was presented his award Dec. 5 at the 72nd Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mason, who took over as head of the wildlife division in 2008 after a lengthy career in wildlife management with USDA Wildlife Services, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the State of Nevada, is the third Michigan recipient of the award. Former DNR biologists Lou Verme and Ed Langenau were honored in1989 and 1994 respectively.
The award — which is not given out every year – honors an active wildlife professional who has contributed to knowledge, enjoyed an outstanding accomplishment, or displayed leadership over a number of years.
“It is truly humbling to receive such an honor from my peers,” Mason said. “I’d like to thank former DNR Director Becky Humphries, who gave me the opportunity to come to Michigan to work in state wildlife management, current Director Rodney Stokes for continuing to provide that opportunity, as well as the dedicated DNR staff and an army of conservation-minded hunters, trappers and anglers, who make everything we’ve accomplished in Michigan possible.”

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Spend ‘Shoe’ Year’s at state parks

The Department of Natural Resources is offering an alternative to the indoor party scene this New Year’s Eve. Swap those dancing shoes for a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis and spend a GO-Get Outdoors “Shoe Year’s Eve” in one of Michigan’s state parks or recreation areas.
This year, gather up friends and family for a fun-filled New Year’s holiday in one of the state parks’ many winterized cabins, yurts or lodges. Don headlights and snowshoes for an evening adventure through the campground, and then enjoy a potluck in the cabin and ring in the New Year gathered around a blazing campfire.
According to DNR Recreation Programmer Maia Stephens, the idea isn’t new.
“People have been enjoying rustic New Year’s celebrations in our cabins and lodges for years,” Stephens said. “Just think—no crowds, no dangerous driving. It’s just a chance to relax, reflect and reconnect with the people who mean the most to you. And the Recreation Passport makes it both an unusual and affordable way to celebrate the season.”
Don’t let a lack of snow deter the vision of a simple, rustic holiday in the woods. Michigan has plenty of trails for hiking, biking or just wildlife viewing within its park system.
“Whether there’s snow for the holidays or not, the state parks offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to get out and enjoy the beauty of our parks this time of year,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “You can be part of a nationwide state park effort to start the New Year with a hike.”
If your New Year’s Eve plans already are set, plan on getting those New Year’s resolutions off to a good start by attending one of the DNR-sponsored “Shoe” Year’s Day events scheduled for Jan. 1 in many of Michigan’s state parks.  Park staff, as well as local health professionals, will be on hand to guide hikes, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing events for participants eager to start their exercise commitments off on the right foot.
For a listing of state parks offering alternative winter lodging over the holidays and throughout the winter, or to find a “Shoe” Year’s Day hike near you, visit www.michigan.gov/gogetoutdoors.
The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.
Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking “YES” on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call 517-241-7275.

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City receives tree-planting grant

Cedar Springs also planted trees in 2009 with a tree-planting grant.

The Department of Natural Resources and DTE Energy foundation announced earlier this week that the City of Cedar Springs will receive of one of 32 grants being issued to Michigan communities for tree-planting projects.

Cedar Springs applied for the grant last winter and requested $1,000 for the replacement of eight trees that they had removed from Main Street. They received a total of $1,400, and will now be able to purchase 12 trees to plant on Main Street between Beech and Maple.

According to DPW Director Roger Belknap, they will plant six Ivory Silk Lilacs and six Spring Snow crabapples sometime in mid-April. “We needed trees that would fit the Main Street footprint, and that would be hearty enough to handle the salt,” explained Belknap.

The grant requires that the city provide a local match, which can be comprised of labor, equipment and funds for tree purchase. According to City manager Christine Burns, they received word that DTE would also be helping them with labor.

Cedar Springs also received a tree-planting grant in 2009.

All 32 grants issued by the DNR and DTE, totaling $62,000, will be used to purchase nearly 1,000 trees of various species and sizes, with planting to begin this spring.

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