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Tag Archive | "DNR"

Michigan welcomes home firefighters


Michigan DNR staff and equipment return from 22 weeks in Texas

After spending 22 weeks in Texas, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is happy to welcome home state firefighters that have been diligently working to stem the wildfires that have burned throughout Texas.
Under an interagency agreement that all 50 states participate in, the Michigan DNR sent four tractors/plows and eight staff to Texas in mid-June.  Staff rotated through every two to three weeks, with over 40 DNR staffers having spent time in Texas.  The last of the crews and equipment returned home on Nov. 18.
“Fighting wildfires is dangerous, which is why we are happy to report that all of the Michigan DNR staff returned unharmed,” says Scott Heather, section manager for the Resource Protection & Cooperative Programs of the Michigan DNR.  “Additionally, the State of Texas will reimburse the department for all of the costs associated with having the staff and equipment down there for 22 weeks.”
Firefighters from 43 states fought more than 29,000 blazes across almost 4 million acres of land since wildfire season began on Nov. 15, 2010.  Michigan firefighters battled two of the largest fires – the Bastrop County Complex and the 101 Ranch, saving many homes.
“The unprecedented wildfires in Texas this year were just another example of why these types of interagency agreements are so important,” says Heather.  “Due to the favorable weather in Michigan this summer and fall, the threat of wildfires was low, allowing us to lend our services and equipment to Texas for an extended period of time.”
This was the longest period of time that Michigan has lent staff and equipment to another state for the purpose of fighting fires.  Michigan has a long history of providing equipment and staff to other states and has also benefited greatly from the interagency agreement.  Most recently in 2007 during the Sleeper Lake fires in Luce County, over 230 firefighters from around the Midwest battled the 18,500-acre fire.

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DNR confirms cougar in Houghton and Keweenaw counties


The Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed the presence of a radio-collared cougar just north of the city of Hancock in northern Houghton County. The animal was captured on a trail camera on Nov. 13, walking directly in front of the camera, with the noticeable presence of a radio collar.
DNR Wildlife Division staff visited the property on Nov. 17 where the trail camera is mounted and verified the location of the camera. Property owner Jesse Chynoweth submitted the pictures to the DNR for confirmation.
“This is the third time this animal has been captured on trail cameras in the Upper Peninsula,” said Adam Bump, a wildlife biologist with the DNR’s Cougar Team. “The Wisconsin DNR earlier verified two trail camera pictures of this cat as it passed through Wisconsin on its way to the UP.”
The Department has also verified a set of tracks from a cougar in southern Keweenaw County on Nov. 20. The cougar passed about 30 feet from a deer hunter who later returned to the area with a friend to snap pictures of the cougar’s tracks. The animal is almost certainly the same, radio-collared cougar that was photographed about 15 miles south near Hancock a week earlier.
The DNR is still in the process of tracking down where the cougar is from and has been checking frequencies from collars of cats from South Dakota, Utah and Montana. Only western states currently have cougars collared for research projects, so the animal likely traveled a great distance to reach the Upper Peninsula.
The Department will inform the public if more details are discovered about this cougar.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions, were once found throughout North America, including Michigan. Habitat loss and heavy persecution led to cougars being eliminated from Michigan in the early 1900s. The last known wild cougar taken in Michigan was killed near Newberry in 1906. Although sightings have increased and are regularly reported in the Upper Peninsula, verification is often difficult. Cougar tracks and a cougar photo from in the eastern Upper Peninsula were verified in 2009. Additionally, the DNR was able to verify several sets of cougar tracks in Marquette and Delta counties in 2008. The radio collared cougar has been photographed in Houghton and Ontonagon counties in 2011.
Established cougar populations are found as close to Michigan as North and South Dakota, and transient cougars dispersing from these areas have been known to travel hundreds of miles in search of new territory. Characteristic evidence of cougars include tracks, which are about three inches long by three and a half inches wide and typically show no claw marks, or suspicious kill sites, such as deer carcasses that are largely intact and have been buried with sticks and debris.
Reports of cougar tracks and other evidence should be made to a local DNR office or by calling the department’s 24-hour Report All Poaching line at 800-292-7800.
Cougars are classified as an endangered species in Michigan. It is unlawful to kill, harass or otherwise harm a cougar except in the immediate defense of human life. For more information about the recent cougar tracks and photo, call your local DNR office to report it or report it on our website. To learn more about cougars and how to identify their tracks, go www.michigan.gov/cougars.
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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Weekly fishing report


From the Michigan DNR

Some of the river systems are experiencing high water levels after all the rain and wet snow this week. Skim ice is starting to appear on some of the inland lakes, especially in the northern sections of the state. It’s that time of year to start getting ready for ice fishing season.

Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report (as of December 2):
St. Joseph River: Water levels are up so anglers could see more fish moving in. Try small spoons in orange and silver or blue and silver, rapalas, small spinners, or floating spawn and wax worms under a bobber.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Has very good steelhead fishing. Those fishing off the wall are floating a wax worm under a bobber. Those fishing on the ladder side are floating spawn just off the bottom.
Grand River at Lansing: No word on steelhead in the Lansing area however fish are still being caught all the way up to the Webber Dam when floating spawn or wax worms.
Muskegon River: Is producing good numbers of steelhead below Croton Dam. Try casting small spoons, spinners, and rapalas or floating spawn and flies.

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Weekly Fishing Tip


From the Michigan DNR

Check out the DNR’s weekly fishing tip, obtained from various angling resources throughout the country.
December 1, 2011: Have You Fished for a Muskellunge Yet?
As we’ve been sharing in many tips this fall, the autumn season is a great time to fish for specific fishes – including muskellunge.
Many lakes you might visit to pursue muskies are fairly empty – leaving you plenty of opportunities to fish for this unique species. It’s recommended that you use large crankbaits – larger than eight inches – and large jerkbaits – larger than 10 inches.
You can fish for muskellunge in most waters right now, but keep in mind the season on the most popular spots of Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River will close on Thursday, December 15.
For more information on muskellunge, visit http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10364_53405-214034–,00.html.

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DNR urges hunter to use Mi-HUNT


The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that Mi-HUNT is a cutting-edge, web-based application that can optimize a hunter’s experience. No matter where you are in Michigan, you can find public hunting land. The interactive mapping application can be found at www.michigan.gov/mihunt.
Mi-HUNT provides the platform for users to view and navigate through public and private lands open to public hunting and trapping in Michigan. The interactive layers of Mi-HUNT allow the user to view all state game and wildlife areas; vegetation cover types on DNR lands; the topography of huntable lands;
1.    recreational facilities such as forest campgrounds, trails, wildlife areas and boat launches; and street maps and directions to huntable areas.
This year, the DNR received a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to improve Mi-HUNT for the user. It is being updated to provide more services to the user while improving the ease-of-use.
“We are listening to our customers and making these modifications to improve their hunting experience,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division. “Mi-HUNT is an incredible and very useful web-based application and ties in perfectly to DNR Director Rodney Stokes’ recruitment and retention priority. We appreciate the grant funding from NSSF.”
The DNR also wants to remind hunters they have an additional opportunity to receive turkey, bear, elk, deer, and reserved waterfowl licenses by applying for the 2012 Pure Michigan Hunt drawing. Each application is $4 and you may apply as many times as you like. Three lucky winners will receive a hunt package that also includes a rifle and crossbow.. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/puremichiganhunt.

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Weekly fishing report


From the Michigan DNR

This is the time of year when fishing reports are harder to come by as most anglers turn their attention to deer hunting. Those heading out for the firearm season are reminded that late fall and early winter offer prime fishing on inland lakes for hungry walleye, pike and bass. It is also a good time to catch big perch, bluegill and crappie.
Southwest Lower Peninsula (as of November 10):
St. Joseph: Pier anglers are catching whitefish on a small hook with a single egg. Steelhead were caught in the harbor in the early morning or late afternoon.
St. Joseph River: Has prime steelhead fishing right now even though angler numbers were down.
Kalamazoo River: Had good numbers of steelhead all the way up to the Allegan Dam. Those fishing below the dam caught walleye.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Salmon fishing is pretty much done but the steelhead action continues to grow with some large fish caught between Fulton Street and the dam. Try spawn under a bobber, small spoons or flies.
Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead were reported in Prairie Creek near Ionia and below the dam at Lyons. No reports for Lansing.
Muskegon River: Has lots of steelhead downstream from Newaygo. Some are fly fishing while others are floating fresh spawn. Walleye and pike were caught near Hardy Dam and smallmouth bass were caught upstream of the dam.
For other areas in Michigan, or to get it in your email, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on fishing, then weekly fishing report.

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Michigan state parks capture national award


Lake Michigan’s Grand Haven State Park on Lake Michigan.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that Michigan state parks and recreation areas have won the 2011 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Gold Medal for the top state park system in the nation. The DNR was notified today by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and NRPA.
Michigan was named one of four finalists in May, and beat North Carolina, Florida and Missouri for the top honor.
“This award is a credit to the people of Michigan,” said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who recently appointed a blue-ribbon panel to guide the parks system into the future. “For more than 90 years, Michiganders have realized that these unique areas are an integral part of the cultural enhancement, economic enrichment and overall quality of life that we value. Our parks are what we make of them and the people of this state clearly prize these treasures. I commend the DNR for its outstanding stewardship of these resources and look forward to working with all stakeholders so that we have a parks system that serves our state and its visitors for generations to come.”
The Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials.
“We are very proud to receive this award, and I want to recognize the employees of the Parks and Recreation Division who have worked hard to make sure our 99 state parks and recreation areas remain excellent places for our citizens and visitors to experience Michigan’s abundant and amazing natural resources,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “This is the result of teamwork, talent and vision that is aimed at protecting our special places, and also making sure that visitors have an enjoyable, high quality experience.”
In its winning application, the DNR focused on innovation, such as the Recreation Passport, which is the new funding model for state parks and outdoor recreation in Michigan. The $10 optional fee that Michigan residents can pay when renewing their vehicle registration at the Secretary of State gives them annual access to all Michigan state parks and boating access sites and also supports state forest recreation programs. A portion of the funding also supports a grant program for local parks.
“This achievement is indicative of the tremendous staff who works in the Parks and Recreation Division, who strive for excellent customer service every day to provide a positive experience for our customers,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson.
Michigan is home to 99 state parks and recreation areas, offering visitors more than 13,000 campsites, trails, access to inland lakes, rivers and the Great Lakes.
For more information on state parks in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/stateparks.

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Volunteer program kicks off in state parks


The Department of Natural Resources announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship events as a part of the new Volunteer Steward program in southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to get outdoors in Michigan’s state parks, breathe some fresh air, get a bit of exercise and enjoy fall foliage and beautiful landscapes.
The Volunteer Steward program kicked off in October with native seed collection for prairie restorations. Volunteers are now needed in November and December to help remove invasive, non-native shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. These activities will help protect and restore the unique habitats by improving conditions for native species and restoring ecosystem function. In doing so, volunteers will be benefiting many species, some of which are threatened or endangered, while also learning about invasive species and hands-on management. Volunteers in need of service credit, such as Conservation Stewards, Master Gardeners, scouts, service clubs, school groups and others are welcome to attend.
Dates, times, and locations of the workdays are as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 5: P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 6: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12: Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 13: Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19: Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 20: P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1-4 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4: Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10: Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec.11: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 to 4 p.m.
Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves, and bring drinking water. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots to enjoy the many trails that traverse through forests, dunes, prairies, fen, and the other unique natural areas protected by our state park system.
The Volunteer Steward program is part of the Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to “preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.” For information about the specific tasks at each workday and to obtain directions, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program in southwest Michigan.

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DNR approves online snowmobile course for youth


An online snowmobile safety course aimed at youth operators has received the endorsement of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It is the first online course for snowmobile safety endorsed by the DNR.
Successful completion of the online course would satisfy Michigan’s snowmobile safety education requirement for youth operators. Under Michigan law, snowmobile operators at least 12 years of age, but less than 17, are required to successfully complete an approved safety training program. Youth operators are also required to carry the safety training certificate with them whenever they are operating a snowmobile in Michigan.
The online course, offered by Fresh Air Educators Inc., provides another option for those interested in taking an approved safety course. Traditional in-person classroom courses are still offered throughout Michigan. There is a $29.95 fee to take the online course. More information on the online course can be found at www.snowmobilecourse.com/usa/michigan/. There is also a quick link on the DNR website under Education and Outreach when searching for available Recreational Safety classes in your area.

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Sporting swine classified as invasive species


A Department of Natural Resources director’s order listing sporting swine as an invasive species took effect over the weekend on Oct. 8, making it illegal to possess the animals in Michigan.
“Absent a regulatory program in Michigan law for sporting swine facilities, the invasive species order is being put into effect,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes.
Stokes said active enforcement of the invasive species order will not start prior to April 1, 2012, with compliance visits to swine shooting and breeding facilities planned after that date.
Sporting swine facilities can use the next six months to schedule hunts to reduce the population of sporting swine on their properties. Facilities still in possession of sporting swine on April 1, 2012, may face violations and fines.
The DNR acted to list sporting swine as an invasive species to help stop the spread of invasive swine across the State to eliminate the disease risk they pose to humans, domestic pigs and wildlife, and to prevent damage to agricultural and other lands. The state is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eradicate feral swine. Legislation was also passed last year allowing people with any valid hunting license to shoot feral swine on public land and on private land with the permission of the landowner.
For more information on feral swine in Michigan, or to report all feral swine sightings, kills and damage, go to www.michigan.gov/feralswine.

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