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Quick tips for safe, responsible Fourth of July fun

Quick tips for safe, responsible Fourth of July fun

From the Michigan DNR

Warmer weather is calling, but things look a little different this year due to COVID-19. We’re providing information to keep you and Michigan’s natural resources safe, along with options for staying local and socially distant, while enjoying your favorite outdoor spaces over the July Fourth weekend.

We are committed to providing visitors with safe, clean outdoor spaces and memory-making experiences. Just last week Monday, we reopened state park campgrounds with new health and safety protocols in place. While we do our best behind the scenes, please do your part to protect yourselves and others while enjoying the outdoors:

Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.

Stay at least 6 feet from people who aren’t from your household, and wear a face covering when in enclosed indoor spaces.

Follow operational and sanitation guidelines. Some processes, like checking in and using bathroom facilities at DNR-managed sites, may vary by location. For example, visitors are encouraged to pay by debit or credit card to decrease the exchange of money.

Also, some amenities at a handful of DNR locations remain closed due to delayed construction projects. Get the latest closure updates from the DNR’s COVID-19 response page. Just go to https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/ and click on DNR COVID-19 response.

Below is some additional information to ensure a fantastic Fourth.

Be mindful of beach and boating safety warnings

Record-high water levels are causing increased river flows, submerged docks and piers, swimming and boating hazards and other concerns. Learn more about the effects of high water and how to stay safe at Michigan.gov/HighWaterSafety.

The Great Lakes are large, powerful bodies of water that demand respect and caution from boaters, swimmers and paddlers. Have a great time in the Great Lakes, but visit Michigan.gov/BeachSafety for safety tips before heading out.

Be aware, too, that DNR conservation officers will have a larger presence on the water now until after the July Fourth holiday; it’s all part of Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to promote sober boating.

Know the rules for smoother trail treks

Whether hiking, biking, on horseback or riding an ORV, trail courtesy and etiquette are easy if you know what to do. Here are some tips:

Don’t create your own trails or shortcuts; this can cause erosion and damage habitat.

When meeting an equestrian, slow down and announce yourself so the horse recognizes you as human and not a predator. Stand back and let the horse pass; equestrian users have the right of way.

Keep to the right side. When approaching others from behind, announce your approach. It’s common to say “on your left” when passing.

See more tips and a video about trail etiquette from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance at https://michigantrails.org/trails/trail-etiquette/

Do your part to prevent wildfires

Dry weather means a higher risk of accidentally starting a wildfire. Never launch fireworks toward forests or fields; dry grass or leaves could ignite. Dispose of used sparklers in a bucket of water.

Burn only wood in your campfire to avoid toxic fumes. When it’s time to put out the fire, thoroughly douse it with water, stir the ashes and douse again. Get more fire prevention tips at https://tinyurl.com/MI-DNR-fire-safety. And, if you plan to burn yard debris at home, get permission first at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.

Take easy steps to protect woods, water and wildlife

Follow the laws to prevent the spread of invasive species in Michigan waters, and be sure to clean, drain and dry boats and trailers.

Don’t move firewood or bring it with you. Hauling firewood from one part of the state to another can transport insects and diseases that may kill native trees. Buy firewood locally and don’t take home any leftovers.

Remove plants, seeds and mud from boots, pets, vehicles and gear before leaving a recreation site, and take the PlayCleanGo message to heart as you spend more time outdoors this summer. More info at playcleango.org.

Be cautious near islands and other shoreline areas. Loons, wood ducks, trumpeter swans and dozens of other nesting birds need quiet water to maintain their nests and raise their young. Watch for signs and buoys that mark nesting areas or other spots that could be damaged by wakes or high-speed boat operation.

Ducks, geese, eagles, loons, turtles and other animals can get tangled in fishing line, plastic can and bottle rings, and other litter. Help keep our water clean and wildlife safe by taking out any trash that you bring in with you.

Map your next fishing, hiking or boating adventure

Looking for something local or with more space to spread out? Check out Michigan.gov/YourLocalOutdoors, a one-stop shopping map where you can enter your address and find fishing, boating and trails nearby. You also can look at your city, county or local convention and visitors bureau websites for close-to-home options.

Things to know before you go

The Recreation Passport is needed for vehicle entry to state parks, state forest campgrounds and state-managed boating access sites.

Anyone 17 or older must have a valid Michigan fishing license to fish. If you›re under 17 you can fish without a license, but still need to observe all fishing rules and regulations. An adult actively assisting a minor who does not have a license must have a fishing license.

Before hitting the trails, purchase an ORV license or trail permit online.

Think about what you’ll need for your adventure and grab the right gear (including hand sanitizer). To get you started, REI offers a checklist for day hiking (https://www.rei.com/dam/ea_day_hiking_printable_checklist.pdf) and other helpful lists for a variety of outdoor activities.

Many people like to swing by some state parks just to catch nearby evening fireworks displays. This year, however, the DNR will close state park day-use areas at 10 p.m. to help reduce crowds.

Finally, remember to pack your patience. Although many of your favorite outdoor spaces are reopening, some important restrictions (like wearing a face covering when inside enclosed indoor places and not congregating in large groups) are still in place for the safety and protection of visitors, volunteers and staff.

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