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Tag Archive | "Department of Natural Resources"

Second state-record fish caught this month


A white perch in Muskegon County

 

Aaron Slagh with his state-record white perch.

Aaron Slagh with his state-record white perch.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the catch of a new state-record white perch on Friday, Jan. 24. This is the second state record caught in the month of January.

The white perch was caught by Aaron Slagh, of Holland, Mich., on Tuesday, Jan. 21, on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon County at 11 a.m. The fish weighed 1.93 pounds and measured 13.25 inches. Slagh was ice fishing with a spoon when he landed the record fish. The record was verified by Rich O’Neal, a DNR fisheries biologist, at the Muskegon field office.

The previous state-record white perch was caught by Kyle Ryan, of Reese, on Lake Huron, in Tuscola County, on July 13, 2002. That fish weighed 1.88 pounds and measured 13.25 inches.

“It was just another normal day on the ice for me, as I get out as much as I can,” said Slagh. “We were actually targeting yellow perch and I thought I had a walleye. When we pulled it up we thought ‘Holy cow—that’s a big white perch!’”

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.

“This winter, despite the extreme weather most of Michigan has been experiencing, is shaping up to be a great time for many anglers,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “This latest state record once again showcases the quality of the state’s fisheries.”

For more information on fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Anglers no longer required to keep baitfish receipts


The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to inform anglers about new viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) regulations that went into effect Thursday, Jan. 9. The changes result in simpler regulations for anglers who purchase and use minnows as bait by removing the retail sales receipt provision.

Anglers will now no longer be required to possess their bait receipts while fishing and retail minnow sellers will no longer be required to provide anglers with detailed receipts for minnows.

VHS is a serious viral disease that has spread into the Great Lakes region and caused large-scale fish kills. VHS was first identified in the Great Lakes in 2005 and has caused mortalities in a number of fish species in the Michigan waters of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair and Detroit rivers, Lake Erie, and inland in Budd Lake near Harrison and Base Line Lake near Pinckney. It has also been found in Lake Michigan waters of Wisconsin.

The DNR actively monitors for VHS throughout the year and as other areas are identified positive for VHS, they will be listed online at www.michigan.gov/vhs.

Receipts were previously used for educational and enforcement purposes to direct anglers to places where their bait could be used based on purchase location and whether or not it was certified as disease-free.

VHS regulations have been in effect for several years and, after careful review, the DNR determined the retail receipt provision could be removed because anglers are more knowledgeable about the risks associated with baitfish use.

There is no known treatment for VHS, so preventing the spread of disease is the best way to protect Michigan’s fish. Anglers can help prevent the spread of VHS by keeping the following tips in mind when using baitfish:

Learn to identify the species of baitfish you are using. Species known to be susceptible to VHS and typically used as live bait include emerald shiners, spottail shiners and white suckers. Other species occasionally used as bait that are susceptible to VHS include bluntnose minnows, trout perch, gizzard shad, shorthead redhorse and silver redhorse.

Request that your local bait store sell certified disease-free baitfish.

Purchase and use only certified disease-free baitfish.

Never move live fish between bodies of water.

Disinfect your bait bucket, livewells and bilges between uses with a bleach solution (half-cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water) or allow equipment to dry thoroughly before using in a different body of water.

Properly dispose of all bait containers including worms and soil, crayfish and minnows in a trash receptacle.

Protecting Michigan’s world-class water resources is everyone’s responsibility for now and future generations. All boaters need to drain their livewell(s) and bilge of their boat upon leaving the waterbody because it’s the law.

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Michigan DNR fighting frog-bit


Response to new invasive species under way in Alpena, Bay and Chippewa counties

 

OUT-frog-bit-closeupThe Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division is leading response efforts to control a new aquatic invasive plant, European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae). Until recently, this free-floating plant had only been reported in a few localized sites in the southeastern Lower Peninsula. Through recent statewide monitoring efforts, this species has been detected in Saginaw Bay, Alpena and Munuscong Bay in Chippewa County.

This new invasive species was detected as a result of an Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) pilot project funded through a federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. The project relies on collaboration with partners, including Michigan State University and Cooperative Weed Management Area groups.

Using the new State of Michigan’s Rapid Response Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species, developed jointly by the DNR, DEQ and MDARD, these new reports were verified, an on-site assessment was conducted and a response plan was formulated. Control measures are under way, including physical removal (1,500 pounds removed beginning in mid-September) and trial treatments with herbicides

“Responding quickly to a new invasive species is critical to increasing our chances of success, and it requires a well-organized, collaborative effort between multiple agencies and other partners,” said Wildlife Division chief Russ Mason.

Education, outreach and future control activities are being planned with local stakeholders and partner groups. A complete outline of the EDRR program, including future stages, is defined in the newly revised SOM Aquatic Invasive Species State Management Plan at www.michigan.gov/aquaticinvasives.

European frog-bit was accidentally released into Canadian waters between 1932 and 1939, and has since spread throughout Ontario, New York, Vermont and other eastern states. It forms extremely dense vegetative mats that cover the available open water surface. Frog-bit shades out submerged native plants, reducing invertebrate and plant biodiversity, disrupts natural water flow, inhibits watercraft movement and may adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat.

European frog-bit resembles a miniature water lily (lily pad), with leaves about the size of a quarter or half-dollar. It produces a small white flower, usually in June. Frog-bit is typically found in slow moving, shallow waters (1-3 feet), typically within cattail and bulrush stands. Additional identification information is available at the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network at www.misin.msu.edu.

If you suspect that you’ve seen European frog-bit, report sightings to www.misin.msu.edu or to Matt Ankney, EDRR coordinator, at ankneym2@michigan.gov or (517) 641-4903.

For more information, please visit www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

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Michigan Trails week


Free park admission Sept. 28

 

Celebrate Michigan Trails Week by getting outside and getting on a trail. Held Sept. 21-28 in the outdoor playground called Michigan, the week pays tribute to the state’s 12,000 miles of trails by offering a variety of events statewide, featuring activities from hiking to biking to kayaking and more.

The week culminates on Sept 28, National Public Lands Day, with free entry to all federal and state parks and participating local parks throughout Michigan and the opportunity for volunteerism—the statewide work bee—to support and maintain these trails. This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. Access to Michigan state parks normally requires a Recreation Passport; that will be waived on Sept. 28. The special events, trail maintenance and clean-up opportunities and free admission are made possible by communities and organizations throughout the state in partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan Recreation and Park Association (MRPA), and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA).

This month, Gov. Rick Snyder proclaimed the recreational, health and economic benefits of the state’s trail system with his second annual proclamation of Michigan Trails Week. In his proclamation, the governor states that the trail system provides several billion dollars to Michigan’s economy and a low-cost means to improve individual health, which can, in return, reduce health care costs.

“Michigan is a national leader in the number of miles of trails, providing tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities and substantial benefits to the state’s economy,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “From our state’s extensive inland water opportunities to more than 3,800 miles of trails used by off-road enthusiasts, Michigan is home to a unique variety and quantity of trails. Trails are resources to be celebrated not just during Michigan Trails Week, but all year long.”

The governor’s proclamation also pays tribute to the most popular means of enjoying the out-of-doors through trail-related activities, including hiking, walking, snowmobiling, running, biking, horseback riding, paddling, and using off-road vehicles. According to Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, whether you’re a novice or an expert, getting out on the trails during Michigan Trails Week and each week afterward is an important part of staying active and experiencing the state’s natural resources.

“Put on your well-worn hiking shoes or experience kayaking for the very first time,” he said. “Events held during this week are a great match for both the experienced and beginning trail user. From guided trail hikes to trail runs to bike rides and free kayaking programs through Recreation 101, there is something for everyone. Make this the start of your healthy, active lifestyle.”

All Michigan Trails Week events are found at www.michigan.gov/trailsweek.

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Turning pine cones into profit: helping to reforest state land


These jack pines cones will provide the seed needed to produce seedlings for state forests. DNR offices in Cadillac, Gaylord, Manistique and Marquette will be accepting cones from the public this fall.

These jack pines cones will provide the seed needed to produce seedlings for state forests. DNR offices in Cadillac, Gaylord, Manistique and Marquette will be accepting cones from the public this fall.

Want to play a part in the Department of Natural Resources’ mission of keeping state forests healthy and sustainable and maybe even make a few bucks in the process? Here’s your opportunity!

This fall, as cones are ripening, people can collect red and jack pine cones and sell them to the DNR by visiting offices in Cadillac, Gaylord, Manistique and Marquette. The seeds are placed in cold storage at the DNR-operated Wyman State Nursery until needed.
Each bushel of pine cones can net between $30 and $35 for the person willing to put in some sweat equity.

“The annual pine cone buying program provides an opportunity for residents to contribute to the DNR’s rejuvenation efforts and help produce millions of seedlings that will help sustain Michigan’s state forest land,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division (FRD). “The DNR’s regeneration efforts have been successful for more than 30 years. With help from folks collecting pine cones, the outcomes of this program can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Michigan’s forests are known for their breathtaking beauty, sheer size and inviting spaces. These forest lands are carefully managed for timber, wildlife, recreation, aesthetic and ecological values – all of which play an important role in the state’s economy through forest-based industry and tourism.
Collaboration is important when it comes to successfully managing Michigan’s state forest land to meet these needs.

“It is no small job,” added O’Neill, who also serves as Michigan’s state forester. “Last spring alone, FRD staff planted more than 7 million seedlings on state forest land, reforesting around 7,500 acres.”
Many of the seedlings used in the DNR’s planting efforts come from Wyman. The Manistique-based facility produces 5 million to 7.5 million seedlings annually to help replenish Michigan’s forest land. If pine cones aren’t collected yearly, those seedlings won’t be produced.

The pine cones sold to the DNR can help produce seed and seedlings that will reforest habitats crucial to the survival of many species like deer, turkey and many other game and non-game species, including the federally endangered Kirtland’s warbler.

In addition to the Kirtland’s warbler habitat, the DNR also focuses its reforestation efforts on sites that have been harmed by natural disasters like wildfire.

“When natural circumstances—like last year’s Duck Lake Fire—destroy large areas of forest land, the DNR works to plant seedlings that will help areas regenerate faster than they would on their own,” explained David Neumann, FRD silviculturist. “Last spring, we planted about 1,200 acres in Newberry at the Duck Lake site; we have plans to plant an additional 3,000 acres over the next three to five years to help the area recover from the fire. “We leave some of the regeneration to nature, but will continue monitoring the site for the next few years,” he added.

While the pine cones collected have traditionally come from the eastern Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, the DNR is looking to push cone collection in the western U.P. this fall.
“The western U.P. has some of the highest-quality jack pine stands in the state,” said Tom Seablom, FRD timber management specialist in Marquette. “The DNR would like to start an annual collection program from this area so other areas can benefit.”

September and October are generally the best months to collect pine cones. For residents who are new to collecting pine cones in Michigan’s beautiful forests, the DNR offers the following tips to get started:

Look for squirrel caches.

Pick cones off the tops of trees from recent timber sales.

Remember that only cones that are tight (unopened) and clean (free of sticks, debris, rot, decay and fungus) will be accepted.

Keep the cones cool to ensure that they do not begin to compost; the seeds will die at high temperatures.

After the DNR purchases the pine cones, they are dried and the seeds are extracted and cleaned.
“Collected seeds can be stored several years, so your contribution will help the DNR grow jack and red pine seedlings now and well into the future,” O’Neill said. People interested in picking and selling cones to the DNR this fall can contact the FRD staff person in their area for more information and to find out the dates each office will buy cones from the public.

Cadillac: Sue Sobieski, 231-775-9727, ext. 6904

Gaylord: Tim Greco, 989-732-3541, ext. 5041

Manistique: Richard Mergener, 906-341-2518

Marquette: Tom Seablom 906-228-6561

For more information about the DNR’s reforestation efforts and state forest planning, visit www.michigan.gov/forestplan.

 

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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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