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Tag Archive | "DNR"

Michigan DNR wildfire fighters help battle western blazes


Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildland firefighters are on the scene in Montana to help with fires around the state. Michigan personnel on loan in Montana include two three-man engine crews and an incident management team. Photo by Michigan DNR firefighter Cory Mallory.

Helicopters fly over a burning hillside in Montana recently as firefighters work to control a grass fire. Two Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildland fire engines staffed by two three-man crews as well as an incident management team are in Montana now helping with fire suppression efforts. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Surrounded by smoke, constantly watching the wind and trying to tamp down fast-moving flames, Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters using two specially equipped fire trucks have been helping battle grass and forest wildfires in Montana since mid-July.

They may do what firefighters call “black lining”—purposely burning a strip of grass to deprive an approaching wildfire of fuel and stop it in its tracks.

Or they may “wet line”—dousing combustible materials in the path of a fire to keep a blaze from spreading.

Or they might, during a breather from work, do what any of us would: whip out cell phones to shoot a quick video as a low-flying tanker plane releases a belly full of water over a hot spot of burning trees, brush or grass.

“Statistically, it’s the grasses that are the most dangerous. They move fast and burn quick,” said Ben Osterland, who led one of two three-man teams that drove the Michigan fire engines to Montana.

Fires have consumed more than half a million acres across Montana so far this season, and Michigan wildland firefighters are playing critical roles in helping put them out. The engines remain in Montana and a third set of crews rotated into the fire zone this week.

In mid-July, Osterland and Cory Mallory each led an engine team, driving the massive, four-wheel-drive vehicles from Michigan to Montana on a 20-hour trek at speeds that maxed out around 64 miles per hour to work long days and live under sometimes primitive conditions.

“Montana absolutely loved our people and they love our trucks,” said Lee Osterland, who also worked on an incident management team in Montana this summer. “It’s a really good opportunity to help another state out.” Michigan firefighters also are serving in Oregon and Washington state now and spent time in Arizona and British Columbia earlier this summer.

The four-wheel-drive fire vehicles are equipped with brush guards and a winch. They carry 800 gallons of water as well as a pump and two reels of hose.

When laying a wet line, the driver may drive slowly along while another firefighter walks alongside, spraying water, and the passenger sprays water from nozzles controlled from inside the cab. Then they set a fire between the wet line and the advancing fire.

“You burn the fuel in front of the fire, so you are essentially fighting fire with fire,” Mallory said.

Firefighters might stay in hotels if the blaze is close to a big-enough city, but they often camp near the site or even sleep in their trucks.

“Where I was, we slept in the dirt,” Ben Osterland said. “We were in tents every night. Some nights, we were on the night shift and we would sleep during the day, when it was the hottest.”

For several days in a row, his crew ate only prepackaged military meals; they also went 10 long days without a shower. But living conditions weren’t the hardest part, he said.

“We were away from cell phone service and you could go days without talking to anyone back home,” he said.

“At the same time, you meet a lot of great people when you’re out there. I’ve created a lot of friendships from those trips. I have met a lot of great people.”

Mallory also says the hardship is worth it, especially when you’re talking to a rancher whose cattle might go hungry if the fire spreads.

“You know you’re making a difference,” he said.

As they work in other states, Michigan firefighters gain valuable experience and earn additional certifications. For example, Mallory started his firefighting career as a key man – a temporary, on-call firefighter – during the Upper Peninsula’s Duck Lake Fire in 2012. Since then, he has worked fires in Georgia and Missouri as well and earned certifications to become a crew leader.

“I was a little nervous when I first got out there, I didn’t know what to expect,” Mallory said of being a crew leader. “But when you work with a team you can trust, it gives you peace of mind.”

The Department of Natural Resources is fully reimbursed for all costs associated with sending firefighters on out-of-state blazes. Learn more about DNR firefighting efforts at michigan.gov/firemanagement.

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Invasive red swamp crayfish found in Michigan


Red swamp crayfish, like the one pictured here, recently were discovered in Sunset Lake in Vicksburg (Kalamazoo County) and a retention pond off Haggerty Road in Novi (Oakland County).

The crayfish were found in two different locations

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed the presence of invasive red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) in Sunset Lake in Vicksburg, south of Kalamazoo (Kalamazoo County), and in a retention pond off Haggerty Road in Novi (Oakland County).

Reports of the crayfish at Sunset Lake came to the DNR from two separate landowners Thursday, July 13. DNR staff verified the reports during a survey of the area July 14, finding several crayfish in the grass in a local park and in shallow areas on the lake’s west side.

A citizen reported possible red swamp crayfish in the Novi retention pond Monday, July 17, after a child captured one in a dip net. DNR staff responded that afternoon and removed 111 specimens from the pond.

These two reports represent the first live detections of red swamp crayfish in Michigan. In 2015, discovery of a pile of dead red swamp crayfish at Kollen Park in Holland (Allegan County) led to an intensive trapping effort by the DNR in Lake Macatawa and portions of the Grand River. No live crayfish were found at that time.

What are red swamp crayfish?

Red swamp crayfish, also known as Louisiana crayfish, are deep red in color with bright red, raised spots covering the body and claws. They have a black, wedge-shaped stripe on the top of the abdomen. Between 2 and 5 inches in length, these crayfish resemble miniature lobsters. They are native to the Mississippi River drainage and the Gulf Coast and are the popular “crawfish” or “crawdads” used in southern cooking.

Why are they a concern?

Red swamp crayfish are a serious concern because of their ability to damage earthen structures and the threats they pose to the environment.

“Eradicating red swamp crayfish is very difficult,” said Nick Popoff, aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager for the DNR. “They dig deep burrows near lakes and rivers and can spread quickly over land.” Popoff said that such burrows, which can be more than 3 feet deep, can cause damage (through bank destabilization) to infrastructure such as dams, levees, irrigation systems and personal property. In Wisconsin, the only solution for one instance of a red swamp crayfish invasion was an extreme measure to pave over a pond.

Red swamp crayfish are considered invasive in Michigan because they compete aggressively with native crayfish species for food and habitat. They feed on plants, insects, snails, juvenile fish and other crayfish, disrupting the food chain for many aquatic species.

Red swamp crayfish can survive drought conditions and are known to migrate as much as approximately 2 miles over land in search of habitat. They are very fertile, with females laying up to 600 eggs at a time and reproducing up to two times in a year.

How did red swamp crayfish get here?

Sources of the two infestations are not known, but according to Popoff, live crayfish may have been brought from southern states for use as bait or for human consumption. Red swamp crayfish also are sold in some states as personal or classroom aquarium pets, and release of those pets is one way invasive species are spread.

“Red swamp crayfish are a prohibited species in Michigan, which means it is unlawful to possess, introduce, import, sell or offer them for sale as a live organism, except in special circumstances, including providing specimens to the DNR for identification,” said Popoff.

What is being done?

Department staff will continue survey and removal efforts on Sunset Lake and its tributaries to determine the size and extent of the infestation. Staff will be out during the daytime and evening hours setting nets and crayfish traps and using electrofishing equipment to capture and remove the crayfish. Connecting water bodies including Austin, Barton and Howard lakes will be surveyed in the coming weeks. Survey and removal efforts are ongoing at the Novi location.

How can people help?

“These two cases show the importance of citizen involvement in the fight against invasive species,” said Popoff. “Alert citizens noticed something unusual and reported it to the DNR, allowing us to initiate a quick response to each situation.”

Residents and visitors to the Sunset Lake area are asked to try to capture any red swamp crayfish they find and place them in a container in the freezer, then report the location of the find to the DNR at 269-685-6851, ext. 0, or by email to herbsts1@michigan.gov.

Sightings of red swamp crayfish in the Novi area or elsewhere in Michigan should be photographed and reported with the date and location of the find to herbsts1@michigan.gov.

For more information about red swamp crayfish and other invasive species of concern in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

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DNR confirms presence of a cougar in Lower Peninsula


This photo was submitted to the DNR from a Haslett resident. The cougar is just behind the mailbox on the right side of the road.

Photo taken in Bath Township, Clinton County

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of a cougar—also referred to as a mountain lion—in Bath Township, Clinton County. This is the first time the presence of a cougar has been verified by the DNR in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

On June 21, 2017, a Haslett resident took a photograph of an animal from his vehicle in Bath Township near the DNR’s Rose Lake State Wildlife Area. The individual reported that he spotted a large cat in his headlights as the animal attempted to cross a road. He captured the photograph as the cougar turned back from the road into an area of thick vegetation.

The picture was made available to the DNR June 26. A field investigation ensued. DNR biologist Chad Fedewa and biologists from the DNR’s Cougar Team reviewed the photo and visited the site where it was taken, determining that the animal in the photo was a cougar.

“Even with this verification, questions remain, especially regarding the origins of the animal,” said Kevin Swanson, DNR wildlife specialist and member of the agency’s Cougar Team. “There is no way for us to know if this animal is a dispersing transient from a western state, like cougars that have been genetically tested from the Upper Peninsula, or if this cat was released locally.”

Cougars originally were native to Michigan, but were extirpated from Michigan around the turn of the century. The last time a wild cougar was legally taken in the state was near Newberry in 1906. Over the past few years, numerous cougar reports have been received from various locations throughout Michigan. Until this time, all confirmed sightings or tracks have been in the Upper Peninsula. Since 2008 a total of 36 cougar sightings have been documented in Michigan’s U.P. To date, the DNR has not confirmed a breeding population of cougars in Michigan.

Cougars are protected under the state Endangered Species Act and cannot be harmed except to protect human life.

Interested landowners within the area of the recent Clinton County sighting may wish to place trail cameras on their properties. The DNR encourage citizens to submit pictures of possible sightings for verification. Observations should be reported at mi.gov/eyesinthefield. If you find physical evidence of a cougar such as scat, tracks or a carcass, do not disturb the area and keep the physical evidence intact. Please include any photos with your report.

The odds of encountering a cougar in the wild are very small, and attacks on humans are extremely rare. Should you encounter a cougar:

  • Face the animal and do not act submissive. Stand tall, wave your arms and talk in a loud voice.
  • Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore. If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.
  • Do not crouch and get on all fours.
  • If attacked, fight back with whatever is available. DO NOT play dead.
  • Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.

To learn more about cougars, visit mi.gov/cougars.

 

 

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Back to the nest: Falcons return to Michigan bridges


DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson examines the wing of a peregrine falcon chick after successfully attaching a leg band June 23. The bird was one of three that hatched at a nest box on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge this year. (MDOT photo) 

Peregrine falcons have returned to the Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock again this year—the same nesting spot, but this year with a choice between new and familiar nests.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) installed two nest boxes at the Lift Bridge in 2012—one each on the north and south bridge towers. A pair of falcons discovered the nesting site the next spring and has raised a total of 12 chicks there. But, in recent years, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has noticed the boxes were showing signs of wear. Enter some enterprising high school students.

“(DNR wildlife technician) Brad Johnson asked if we would be interested in building a pair of peregrine falcon boxes,” said Baraga Area Schools industrial arts teacher John Filpus. The idea turned into a multi-class project.

“There were a few classes that participated in the design and construction of the nest box,” Filpus said. “Our AutoCADD class worked developing a blueprint for the design of the box based on pictures of others built. Some students in Baraga’s wood shop and construction trades class built the box.”

Filpus said it took the students about a week to learn a little background about falcons and how nest boxes are built, then design the initial blueprint of the box. Building the box took an additional two weeks, with classes working one to two hours per day.

One box was deployed on March 17, just days before the nesting pair returned this spring. The second will be installed before the next nesting season. The new boxes feature tough construction, a trap door in the rear, and a roof that folds down across the front of the box to prevent chicks from falling out during banding operations.

Webcams, viewable at http://pasty.com/nestbox.html, also have been installed in cooperation with the Copper Country Audubon Club to allow people to watch potential nesting activity at both boxes.

“We went ahead and partnered with Pasty.com, an internet service provider in the area,” said Phil Quenzi of the Copper Country Audubon Club. “They provided some of the equipment. Audubon bought the cameras, and the DNR and MDOT helped us out and allowed us to put the cameras on the bridge. The feedback so far has been pretty positive. At this point we don’t have a count of the people who visit the site, but it seems like there are quite a few, locally and from elsewhere, that visit the site. And we’ve gotten a lot of good comments.”

At the other end of the Upper Peninsula, another pair of peregrine falcons successfully nested on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, hatching four chicks this year.

“This site has hatched 24 falcon chicks since 2010, when we put in the nest box and started counting,” said International Bridge Engineer Karl Hansen, “There were more before that but we don’t know the number.” Hansen said a falcon cam for the International Bridge is also planned.

The chicks at the International Bridge were banded by a DNR team on June 19, while the Lift Bridge birds were banded on June 23. They were also named. The Baraga AutoCADD students and MDOT employees settled on naming the Lift Bridge birds Hank, Esther, and Bridgette. In recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary, this year’s International Bridge bird names honor Canada’s first two men and first two women in space: Marc, Roberta, Steve, and Julie.

Karen Cleveland, a wildlife biologist with the DNR, said biologists try to band as many peregrine falcon chicks as they can at nest sites in Michigan. These color-coded metal bands stay on the falcons’ legs through their entire lives and give researchers a way to find out how long they live, where they travel, and whether they are able to raise chicks of their own.

“Michigan lost its peregrine falcons in the 1960s and 1970s due to the use of DDT and other environmental contaminants,” Cleveland said. “Since conservation efforts started in the mid-1980s, the number of peregrine nests has slowly increased. Now there are about 40 falcon pairs actively trying to nest statewide, with one to two new pairs discovered most years.”

The peregrine falcon has now been removed from the federal endangered species list, but is listed as an endangered species in Michigan, protected by state and federal law. Peregrines have adapted to city habitats, nesting on tall buildings, smokestacks and bridges around the world. Studies have found the birds in this region tend not to nest in the same area where they were hatched, but spread out across the Midwest.

“The restoration of peregrine falcons to Michigan has truly been the result of the work of the DNR with multiple other partners” Cleveland said. “Whether it’s MDOT providing nest boxes on their bridges or more traditional conservation groups, like the National Park Service or Michigan Nature Association, protecting nesting sites on cliffs and ledges, their efforts have helped this species succeed.”

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Saginaw County man sentenced in illegal deer baiting case


Sugar beets are shown spread over a field where illegal baiting took place in November 2016.

A Saginaw County man was fined heavily, ordered to serve jail time, probation, and community service, and had his hunting privileges revoked when he was sentenced recently for deer hunting violations he committed during the fall 2016 firearm deer hunting season. Dexter James Sysak, 40, of Merrill, Michigan, was convicted by a District Court jury in April of multiple hunting violations, dating back to Nov. 29. He was sentenced June 21.

“Sysak had taken a dump truck of sugar beets and two dump trailers of corn and placed them on his hunting property,” said Michigan Conservation Officer Joseph Myers, who investigated the case. “The actual measure of bait was impossible to count but was estimated at two-and-a-half tons.”

Myers said conservation officers were alerted to a complaint of over use of bait via an anonymous tip to the DNR Report All Poaching hotline (800-292-7800) on Nov. 27.

The following day, officers went to the area, which turned out to be an old golf course—property owned by Sysak near the Gratiot-Saginaw county line. Myers said he found access to the site using a county road easement.

“I saw a hunting blind on the right and I could see an orange object through the trees,” Myers said. “It was a grain trailer full of corn with the door broken off and about 100 gallons of corn on the ground.”

Corn was spread over a wide area. Myers said he kicked a hard object while walking, which was a sugar beet.

“There was a 150-yard cobblestone road of sugar beets making a J-shape around the blind,” Myers said. “It looked like an individual had drove onto the property and just dumped the sugar beets out of a truck.”

With no name on the blind and no one at the site, Myers didn’t know who owned the land or the property. He decided to return the next day, Nov. 29.

“There was a truck parked there. I walked up to the blind and there were four individuals in the blind,” Myers said.

Myers said he saw Sysak pick up a hunter orange vest as Myers approached the blind.

After interviewing Sysak, Myers determined the bait, far in excessive of the 2-gallon limit, had been in the area for some time.

“Sysak also admitted to me that he had taken a 9-point buck over the illegal bait, making it an illegal deer,” Myers said. “I seized evidence and cited the suspect.”

Myers said Sysak showed him the gun he used and where he shot the deer from. He also told Myers which meat processor the deer had been taken to—a place just a couple miles down the road.

Myers contacted the processor and recovered the deer meat and antlers.

Sysak pleaded not guilty.

A jury trial was held April 28 in District Court 65B in Ithaca in Gratiot County, where Sysak was found guilty by the panel of six jurors on all three charges against him. Those misdemeanors included an over limit of bait, failing to wear hunter orange and taking a deer by an illegal method.

Myers said Sysak admitted the facts necessary to prove the case during his testimony at trial. He also admitted he had rented a dump truck to place the bait on the property.

Sysak was sentenced June 21 to serve 45 days in jail, fined roughly $15,000, including $6,500 reimbursement for the deer and ordered to serve 90 hours of community service to the DNR once his jail sentence is served. He was banned from all DNR activities during his 2-year probation term. All sport license privileges were revoked through 2022.

The meat from the deer will be given to needy families in the community.

There were extensive terms set for Sysak’s probation. If any of those terms are violated, it will be grounds for Sysak serving up to 1 year in jail and potential lifetime revoking of his hunting license privileges.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers that provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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Experience #MiFreeFishingWeekend June 10-11 and enjoy the outdoors


Grab a fishing rod and enjoy some of the finest fishing Michigan has to offer during the 2017 Summer Free Fishing Weekend, June 10-11. That Saturday and Sunday, everyone—residents and non-residents alike—can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Additionally, during #MiFreeFishingWeekend the DNR will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee for vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. Several of these locations will host official 2017 Summer Free Fishing Weekend events perfect for the whole family.

Michigan celebrated summer’s #MiFreeFishingWeekend every year since 1986 as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams and 11,000 inland lakes—Michigan and fishing are a perfect match.

“Being outdoors and enjoying Michigan’s world-class fisheries never gets old,” said Jim Dexter, DNR Fisheries Division chief. “We encourage avid anglers to consider inviting a new angler out for this year’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend to show them how simple and fun it can be.”

Official summer #MiFreeFishingWeekend activities are being scheduled in communities across the state to assist with public participation. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others. A full list of these events can be found online at michigan.gov/freefishing.

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DNR reminds moose watchers of traffic hazards


A moose stands not far off U.S. 41 near Humboldt in Marquette County. DNR officials are reminding the public to remember safety and use caution when stopping along roadways to watch and photograph wildlife. Photo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials are reminding the public to remember safety and use caution when stopping along roadsides to look at moose and other wildlife.

“We have had recurring concerns reported about motorists stopping along roadsides in the Upper Peninsula to watch and photograph moose,” said Lt. Pete Wright, a DNR district law supervisor. “We understand seeing a moose is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people and it can be tremendously exciting. However, people need to be mindful of the dangers posed by passing traffic and the animals themselves.”

  • If stopping along a roadway to experience a Michigan moose sighting:
  • Pull your vehicle completely out of the traffic lanes to park.
  • Make sure vehicle has stopped moving before exiting.
  • Watch behind for oncoming vehicles before opening vehicle doors.
  • Do not walk through traffic to cross the highway.
  • Wait until there is a sufficient opening in traffic to cross the road. Avoid having to wait in the middle of the road for cars to pass.
  • Remain aware of where you and others are standing while watching or photographing wildlife. Keep away from traffic lanes. Do not rely on motorists to see you and avoid you.
  • Respect moose and other wildlife as the wild creatures they are. Watch or photograph wildlife from a safe distance. Do not approach or harass wildlife.
  • Keep a sharp eye out for traffic when returning to your vehicle. Use safe crossing methods.
  • Watch for approaching vehicles when pulling your vehicle back onto the roadway. Merge properly with traffic.

“Michigan is fortunate to have moose and a wide array of other watchable wildlife to enjoy,” Wright said. “However, when doing so, it’s always best to keep safety in mind.”

For more information on wildlife and wildlife viewing visit www.michigan/gov/wildlife.

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Fishing Tip from the DNR 


Fishing for muskellunge is a premier challenge

Known as “the fish of 10,000 casts,” muskellunge are a game fish native to the lakes and streams of Michigan. They are a prized catch to many anglers, but present many challenges when trying to do target them. But, if you do your research and are patient, you too could possibly land a big one!

Muskie anglers can choose from a variety of methods such as trolling, casting or still fishing with live bait. Muskellunge tackle must withstand the larger, bulkier lures required, as well as the fact these fish can exceed 30 pounds. Anglers should use much heavier line and stronger rods. It should be noted that muskie fishing success usually requires more dedication and persistence than for other species.

Want to learn more about this valued game fish? Check out their section of the Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them website at https://tinyurl.com/michiganfishcatchthem.

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DNR creel clerks to collect angler information 


Anglers may encounter DNR creel clerks, as pictured here, this summer at certain Great Lakes ports and inland waterbodies. These individuals may ask you a few questions about your fishing effort that day and potentially collect data on the fish you caught.

As this year’s open-water fishing season gets under way, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that Fisheries Division personnel are at lakes, rivers and Great Lakes ports collecting fishing data from anglers.

DNR creel clerks will be stationed at boat launches and piers around the state asking anglers questions as they return from fishing trips. Information will be requested on trip length, target species and number and type of fish caught. In some cases, creel clerks may ask to measure or weigh fish and to take scale or other body parts for aging. These data are key information in the DNR’s management of the state’s fisheries resource.

“The DNR appreciates anglers’ cooperation with these interviews, and it will only take a couple of minutes to answer the questions,” said DNR fisheries biologist Tracy Kolb. “This program helps us gather information that is critical in managing the state’s fisheries and is used in every aspect of our management efforts.”

These efforts are part of the DNR’s Statewide Angler Survey Program, a long-term monitoring program that tracks recreational fisheries and harvest across Michigan’s waters. This is one of the most comprehensive angler survey programs in the country, with DNR creel clerks interviewing upwards of 50,000 anglers in most years.

Information about where creel clerks are stationed and the data they collect is available online. Go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on fishing, then fishing in Michigan, then under tools for going fishing in Michigan, click on creel clerks.

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Michigan fire season builds during Wildfire Prevention Week


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is using Wildfire Prevention Week (April 16-22) to remind people to go to to check if burn permits are being issued in their area before burning any yard debris.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is using Wildfire Prevention Week (April 16-22) to remind people to go to to check if burn permits are being issued in their area before burning any yard debris.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and its cooperators are observing Wildfire Prevention Week April 16-22. Most wildfires on Michigan’s 20 million acres of state and private forest land occur in April, May and June.

“Michigan typically experiences some of its higher fire conditions during the spring,” said Bryce Avery, DNR fire prevention specialist. “The dead grass and leaves from last year dry very quickly as days become longer, temperatures begin to rise, and humidity levels are often at their lowest points. Breezy conditions increase the danger, but even on calm days, one ember landing in some dead grass is enough to start a wildfire.”

Warm spring weather increases the amount of outdoor activities, like yard cleanup, campfires and fireworks. All of these activities require planning and caution before and after fires are lit.

“To dispose of yard waste, consider composting, but if you are planning on burning yard debris, your first step should be to check if the DNR is issuing burn permits in your area,” said Avery.

Burn permits are required prior to burning brush and debris in Michigan when the ground is not snow-covered. Residents in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula can obtain a free burn permit by visiting  www.michigan.gov/burnpermit or by calling 866-922-2876. Residents in southern Michigan should contact their local fire department or township office to see if burning is permitted in their area.

In addition to obtaining a burn permit, the DNR recommends people take the following steps to help prevent wildfires:

  • Pay attention to the fire danger in your area. Don’t burn debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush and other debris is the main cause of wildfires.
  • Clear away flammable material surrounding the fire so it won’t creep into dry vegetation.
  • Keep campfires small, and do not leave before they are fully extinguished.
  • Have a shovel and water available at all times when you are burning. Be sure to douse fires with plenty of water, stir and add more water until everything is wet.
  • Do not cover a campfire with soil; it may simply smolder before coming back to life.
  • Embers can re-ignite. Make sure they are out completely.
  • Consider composting or mulching yard debris rather than burning it.

Historically, debris burning has been the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Michigan.

For more tips in safeguarding your home and property from wildfire risk, please visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.

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