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State parks help kick off 2017 resolutions with Shoe Year’s Day hikes


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Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to kick their New Year’s resolutions into high gear at a number of “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes taking place in Michigan state parks and recreation areas Dec. 31-Jan. 8.

Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to kick their New Year’s resolutions into high gear at a number of “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes taking place in Michigan state parks and recreation areas Dec. 31-Jan. 8.

For many people, a new year is the time for making resolutions. Frequently, those resolutions involve making a pledge to become healthier. With that sentiment in mind, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages residents to kick off 2017 by bringing Michigan’s great outdoors into the mix.

The DNR, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Recreation and Park Association are joining together to encourage residents to shift their New Year’s resolutions into high gear at “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes taking place Dec. 31-Jan. 8 at several Michigan state parks and recreation areas.

“There are countless benefits to using Michigan’s great outdoors as your gym,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “People tend to work out longer, enjoy their workout more, and burn more calories by exercising outside, while enjoying the beauty of our state.”

All “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes are free; however, a Recreation Passport is required for any vehicle entering a Michigan state park or recreation areas. Snowshoes will be available to rent at most locations.

According to Olson, the Recreation Passport is a great value and may be the most affordable gym membership available. The annual pass costs residents $11 for vehicle access to 103 state parks and 138 state forest campgrounds, as well as parking for hundreds of trails and staffed boat launches.

The following Shoe Year’s guided hikes are scheduled:

Maybury State Park (Wayne County) Dec. 31 at 10 a.m.

Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County) Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.

Waterloo Recreation Area (Jackson County) Jan. 1 at 11 a.m.

Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County) Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.

Ludington State Park (Mason County) Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.

Rockport Recreation Area (Alpena County) Jan. 7 at noon

Sleeper State Park (Huron County) Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.

Straits State Park (Cheboygan County) Jan. 7  at 5 p.m.

Mitchell State Park (Wexford County) Jan. 8 at 1 p.m.

If you can’t make it to one of the fun events going on across the state, you can still take advantage of Michigan’s parks, trails and waterways on your own time by visiting a Michigan state park or recreation area, the Iron Belle Trail or the more than 12,500 miles of state-designated trails.

Michigan is part of the nationwide First Day Hikes program coordinated by the National Association of State Park Directors. They were inspired by the First Day Hikes that originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 55,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 133,000 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country.

Visit www.michigan.gov/shoeyearhikes to view the calendar of events.

Share your resolution on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using #MiShoeYear.

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Do not move firewood between state parks 


Lethal tree infection caused by transport of firewood

OUT-Oak-wilt

Oak wilt outbreaks are increasing in Michigan and the Department of Natural Resources has conducted treatment at several state parks to halt the spread of the disease.

Oak wilt is an introduced disease that causes rapid death of infected trees. The fungus is easily transported by beetles from infected wood to nearby wounded trees. Trees cannot be cured of oak wilt, and once a tree is infected the disease can rapidly spread to neighboring trees through underground root graft connections. The loss of large numbers of oak trees in parks can be dramatic, both for the park visitor experience and the ecology of the natural habitat.

“The likely cause of the oak wilt outbreak at Michigan state parks is the movement of infected firewood into campgrounds,” said DNR natural resources steward Heidi Frei. “Campers and other park visitors can help prevent the spread of the oak wilt fungus by not moving firewood between campgrounds.”

DNR Parks and Recreation Division staff has been working the last several years to stop the spread of oak wilt at Michigan state parks throughout the state, including P.J. Hoffmaster, Otsego Lake, Interlochen, Warren Dunes and Hartwick Pines state parks; and Fort Custer, Rifle River, Waterloo, Brighton, Pinckney and Island Lake recreation areas.

Treatments in 2014 included using a vibratory plow fitted with a special blade (designed and fabricated at the DNR’s Forest Fire Experiment Station in Roscommon) that severs grafted tree roots, isolating healthy trees from infected trees. Treatment also included the application of fungistats, which inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungi, and which have been used in areas declared critical dune habitat.
“If left unchecked,” Frei said, “oak wilt will continue to spread and result in large pockets of standing dead oak trees, which may be hazardous to park visitors.” Some parks, such as P.J. Hoffmaster, have experienced considerable losses. More than 100 large red oaks, including the most picturesque grove of red oaks in the campground, have been killed by oak wilt.
For more information on oak wilt prevention and stewardship, visit www.michigan.gov/foresthealth or contact Heidi Frei at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov.

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Help protect habitat at state parks


Volunteers needed to remove garlic mustard

 

Residents are invited to enjoy spring weather, flower blooms and the outdoors at Michigan state parks, and do some good at the same time.

The Department of Natural Resources recently announced the schedule of May volunteer steward activities at state parks in southwest Michigan. Volunteers are needed to help remove garlic mustard, an invasive, non-native plant that grows in the forest understory. This invasive weed crowds out native wildflower populations, like trillium and bloodroot, and can spread rapidly if not kept under control. Removal is similar to weeding a garden and it’s an enjoyable way to spend time outdoors.

Dates, times and locations (counties) of group workdays are:

Saturday, May 3; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon), noon to 2 p.m.

Sunday, May 4;  Holland State Park (Ottawa County), 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday, May 10; Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, May 17; Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunday, May 18; Ludington State Park (Mason County), 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday, May 31; Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County),10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work (including long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes) and are asked to bring gloves and drinking water.

Volunteers are also able to work on an individual basis pulling, mapping and locating garlic mustard populations. Large groups are asked to register using the forms available on the DNR website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the volunteer steward workdays.

 

 

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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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