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Tag Archive | "DNRE"

Settlement reached in 2008 wildfire near Grayling

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment announced that a Saginaw- based railroad company will reimburse $274,209 to the state and other agencies for fire suppression costs and damages resulting from wildfires occurring along its rail tracks in April of 2008.

The Four Mile fire – the largest among those for which the Attorney General brought charges — threatened the city of Grayling, burned several structures and charred 1,300 surrounding acres. That wildfire also closed Interstate 75 and cut off power to much of the area.

Lake State Railway pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of operating equipment without a spark arrestor in both Arenac and Crawford counties. A more serious charge of willfully setting fires was dismissed. Judges in each county imposed fines which together totaled $1,250 and placed Lake State on probation for one year while also ordering them to follow fire prevention guidelines laid out in a plan designed to reduce the chances wildfires will occur through future railway operations.

“We are pleased with the outcome,” said Lynne Boyd, chief of DNRE’s Forest Management Division Chief “Each fire department and police agency responding to the Four Mile fire will recover their costs.  The DNRE will receive compensation of $155,000 in suppression expenses and $76,000 for a destroyed vehicle and timber damaged on state land.”

Boyd went on to point out the importance of the wildfire prevention plan, saying, “The preventive actions agreed to include a number of measures which will reduce the risk of wildfires starting along the railroad tracks.” She added, “Lake State Railway has shown an increased dedication to preventing wildfires by implementing many portions of the plan even prior to the courts’ final rulings.”

A separate civil case against Lake State involving additional private property damage is still pending in Crawford County.

For more information about wildfires in Michigan, including prevention tips and information, go to  www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is committed to the conservation, protection, management, and accessible use and enjoyment of the state’s environment, natural resources, and related economic interests for current and future generations. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/dnre.

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DNRE seeks help to detect presence of wolves

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment today announced it will conduct a survey in the northern Lower Peninsula Feb. 15 through March 14 to detect the presence of gray wolves in that region of the state.
“The purpose of the survey is to verify the presence of wolves both where we have previously confirmed animals and to detect new occurrences in other areas,” said DNRE wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch. “Given the low probability of observing a wolf or tracks in the Lower Peninsula it’s helpful to have as many eyes looking as possible. That’s why public reports are so important.”
Wolves are a federally protected species that began naturally returning to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula via Canada and Wisconsin in the early 1990s. Since that time populations have increased and continue to expand their range.  Evidence of range expansion into the Lower Peninsula came when a gray wolf was accidentally killed in Presque Isle County in 2004.  More recently, wolf breeding was verified in Cheboygan County in 2010.
The DNRE is asking the public to report any recent sightings of wolves or tracks they believe were made by wolves to the Gaylord Operations Service Center at 989-732-3541, ext. 5901 during the survey period. Reports of observations can also be submitted online at www.dnr.state.mi.us/wildlife/pubs/wolf_obsreport.asp.
Survey teams will be searching areas where there have been one or more observations. Priority will be placed on recent reports and those submitted during the survey period.
“It’s important that observations are reported in a timely manner so we can work with fresh evidence. If the public finds what they believe are wolf tracks, they should preserve the physical evidence and disturb it as little as possible or take a photo of the tracks alongside a ruler,” Kleitch said. “If someone has a photo of a wolf in the Lower Peninsula, we’d certainly be interested in that as well.”
Information on wolves in Michigan and links to other wolf-related web pages can be found at www.michigan.gov/wolves.
The DNRE is partnering in this survey effort with US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the Little Traverse and Grand Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and The University of Michigan.

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2010 firearm deer season harvest estimates similar to last year

Initial estimates suggest Michigan firearm deer hunters killed about the same number of deer statewide this year as in 2009, according to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE). Reports regarding deer harvest ranged widely, from significant increases in some locations to declines in others, potentially a result of concentration of deer around the excellent mast crops available this fall.
DNRE biologists estimate the harvest compared to 2009 was unchanged to up perhaps as much as 10 percent in both the Upper Peninsula and the Southern Lower Peninsula and down 5 to 15 percent in the Northern Lower Peninsula. Deer from throughout the state were reported to be in good condition, as indicated by improvements in antler development in all regions compared to last year.
As expected, with the mild conditions experienced in the winter of 2009-2010, deer numbers in both northern regions look to be recovering from the effects of prior winters. But hunter numbers appeared down – particularly on public land statewide – likely due to the opening day of the firearm season falling on a Monday this year.
“Most deer hunters support maintaining the traditional season dates of Nov. 15 through 30, but we consistently see a drop in hunter numbers in those years that the season opens on a Monday,” said DNRE Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “This may need to be a topic for discussion as we move to form Regional Deer Advisory Teams and engage our conservation partners to discuss long-range management goals.”
“Antlerless quotas were set the same or lower in the Upper Peninsula and western portion of the Northern Lower Peninsula, but we emphasized the need for hunters to take does in the eastern portion of the Northern Lower Peninsula and much of the Southern Lower Peninsula,” said DNRE Deer Program Leader Brent Rudolph. “Efforts to control bovine tuberculosis in deer continue in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula. Although deer numbers appear stable over the last few years in much of the Southern Lower Peninsula, they’re still higher than we’d like to see in many places.”
Rudolph emphasized that the preliminary estimates will be replaced by final figures of harvest and participation generated by the annual mail survey completed once all deer seasons are concluded. Preliminary estimates last year suggested a decline of 10 to 20 percent from the prior season harvest, and the final mail survey results reflected a drop of 19.8 percent in the firearm kill.
For more information about hunting opportunities in Michigan, go online to www.michigan.gov/hunting or for additional information about deer go to www.michigan.gov/deer.

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Increase snowmobiling fun with these cool tips

Secretary Land reminds operators to stay safe, obey the law

snowmobilersWith winter here, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reminds snowmobilers that a safe riding season depends on proper training and abiding by state safety rules and regulations.
“With more than 6,000 miles of designated trails crisscrossing the Upper and Lower peninsulas, Michigan provides some of the best and most varied snowmobiling available,” Land said. “Safe riding involves more than just ensuring that your snowmobile is in good working order. Proper training and an understanding of the laws regarding this wonderful recreational activity are equally important in keeping you safe this winter.”
Safe snowmobiling includes the following:
*Don’t ride alone
*Keep headlights and tail lights on at all times
*Keep your snowmobile well maintained
*Wear appropriate clothing for the weather — always include a helmet, gloves and eye protection
*Always check the weather and leave a travel plan
*Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water when possible and never cross single file
*Be aware of fences, low-strung wire or depressions in the snow
*Do not ride on a street or highway
*Be cautious at intersections, stop and look carefully for traffic before proceeding
Land said that a snowmobile safety course is an excellent idea for all operators. Children ages 12-16 may operate a snowmobile if they have a valid snowmobile safety certificate with them or are under the direct supervision of an adult age 21 or older. Only those with a valid snowmobile certificate may legally drive across a street or highway.
Children younger than 12 must be under the direct supervision of an adult unless they are operating a snowmobile on property owned or controlled by a parent or legal guardian. They are not allowed to cross a highway or street.
Snowmobiles are registered by the Department of State. Operators must have the registration certificate with them when riding. The registration is the ownership document; snowmobiles are not titled. Registrations are issued for three years and should be renewed before Sept. 30 of the year shown on the registration decal. Decals are displayed on the forward half of the cowl above the foot well.
A snowmobile trail permit sticker is also required under Michigan law, with a few exceptions such as when riding solely on private property. Trail permits are issued for one year and are placed on the forward half of the snowmobile directly above or below the headlight. They are available from snowmobile dealers, Department of Natural Resources and Environment offices and retail license agents.
Snowmobile operators are reminded to never operate a snowmobile under the influence of drugs or alcohol or at speeds that are unreasonable for conditions. Residents whose driver’s license has been suspended or revoked may not legally operate a snowmobile.
Snowmobiles may operate on the right-of-way of public highways under certain situations. Traveling single file is permitted with the flow of traffic on the extreme right of the right-of-way. Driving on the roadway or shoulder is restricted to crossing bridges or culverts.
There are a number of other regulations regarding the speed, time of day, place and circumstances in which snowmobiles may safely and legally operate. This information is available on the DNRE Web site and snowmobile owners are encouraged to review it before riding.
For more information about snowmobile safety training, regulations and trail permits, visit the DNRE Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnre.
Nearly 87,000 snowmobile renewal notices were mailed by the Department of State this year. There are more than 347,000 snowmobile registrations on file, including original, renewed and expired certificates.
Additional information about registering snowmobiles is on the department’s Web site at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

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Muzzleloader deer season opens

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminds hunters that muzzleloader season for deer opened last Friday in the Zone 1 (Upper Peninsula) and Zone 3 (southern Michigan).
The season runs for 10 days in the U.P. and 17 days in southern Michigan.
Hunters must possess appropriate license tags—firearms license or combination license tags to take an antlered buck, or antlerless deer licenses to take antlerless deer.
Muzzleloading season in Zone 2 (northern Lower Peninsula) runs from Dec. 10-19.
For information about hunting in Michigan, including regulations, season dates and bag limits, go to www.michigan.gov/hunting.

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River replenished with spring trout release

By Beth Altena

With state funding drying up for many public programs, those who live in the Rogue River watershed can be grateful that trout stocking money comes mostly from the federal government. Staff at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Energy has been busy replenishing the Rogue’s supply of game fish.

Photo by Kym Steffes.

Just after the spring trout opener, Fisheries technician Joe Michevich put in over 17,000 Gilchrist Creek brown trout, nearly 10,000 Eagle Lake rainbow trout and has plans to put in another 7,300 in the next weeks.

“We have a federal three to one match,” said Jon Jackoviak, of the Harrietta Fisheries Station in Harietta, Michigan. For every dollar the DNRE spends on fish stocking three more come from federal funds.

Jackoviak said the browns and rainbows planted in the Rogue are about 16 months old. The rainbows, a well-established stocking fish, are five to seven inches long when planted and may grow to their legal limit this season. The Gilchrist trout are a little smaller, around five inches, and will likely be large enough to be taken legally next year. The Gilchrist trout are a wilder strain and do better in streams than in hatcheries.

Jackoviak said his facility, the oldest in the state and built in 1901, received their broodstock in 1996. The state has been stocking fish since the 1890s and brought in German brown trout, a fish that was not found in United States streams until then. Annually the Harrietta Hatchery provides 1.3 million trout to streams and rivers in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula.

The Rogue River, like many of the tributaries to the Grand River, flows with cold, clear water from many springs and is good habitat for trout. Heavily fished, the Rogue benefits from stocking by replacing fish anglers’ take and helping the population in cases where reproduction suffers for any variety of reasons. Jackoviak said field biologists do stream surveys to determine how many fish to plant in any given river or stream, but figures do not vary much year to year. The number of fish stocked also depends on how many eggs the hatchery acquires from their sources.

Estimated survival of the young trout is also determined by numerous variations. In some locations, the stocked fish have to be protected from predators, such as cormorants and seagulls during the stocking. Jackoviak said fishing organizations provide volunteers who distract the birds while the young fish become acclimated to their new surroundings. Because the Rogue River is a swiftly flowing body of water, fish planted here are rarely mass victims to diving birds.

Water temperature from the hatchery to the streams has to be carefully monitored as change in temperature can shock the fish. Jackoviak said the spring release of the fish is determined by the stream temperatures, which are usually ideal the end of March through the first of May. “It is also just before the explosion of plankton and bugs the fish need,” he said.

For anyone interested in learning more, the Harrietta Hatchery is open seven days a week, every day of the year from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has outdoor visitor area as well. The facility was remodeled in 1979.

The Rogue River is a draw to the community and brings in visitors to Rockford for recreation from fishing, canoeing, kayaking and other river-related activities. The DNRE estimates the annual income to the area from this resource to be in the hundreds of thousands—that’s dollars, not fish.

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Enjoy a great book in the great outdoors

Park & Read program offers free park passes for Michigan readers

Back for a second summer, the DNRE and the Library of Michigan are again offering Park & Read at more than 400 libraries across Michigan.

Park & Read allows library card-holders the ability to “check-out” a one-day pass into any Michigan state park or recreation area in lieu of the resident daily motor vehicle permit. This $6 savings also provides free access to the more than 500 events taking place in state parks throughout the summer.

For those interested in bringing along a library book for serious beach reading, 71 of the state parks have hammocks available for Park & Read users to borrow while on-site for the day so they can fully enjoy a great book in Michigan’s great outdoors.

“This is a great opportunity to try something different. Whether you’re looking for time alone or time together, these free passes are a great excuse to go for a picnic, take the kids swimming, or to find your next best fishing spot,” said Ron Olson, Recreation Division chief for the DNRE.

Passes are valid for seven days from check-out and can be used for one day at any one of Michigan’s 98 state parks. Passes are valid for day-use only. The program is available through October 1, 2010.

For more information on the program and a complete list of participating libraries, hammock availability, and park events taking place throughout the state visit www.michigan.gov/stateparks.

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DNRE reminds anglers about bait restrictions

With fishing season heating up, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminds anglers that the use of salmon eggs or minnows for bait is restricted in some waters as part of a strategy to slow the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS).

Anglers who purchase spawn or minnows for bait should make sure it is certified as VHS-free. Certified VHS-free bait is widely available and may be used anywhere in the state for 14 days. The use of bait that has not been certified as disease-free is restricted, depending on where the bait was collected, and anglers need to follow the regulations to use uncertified bait in the correct locations. Uncertified bait can only be used for three days after purchase. All bait collected by anglers is considered to be uncertified bait.

VHS virus, a virus that causes fish to die from internal bleeding, has caused mortalities among a number of species of fish in Michigan. The disease has been found in Michigan’s waters of lakes Superior, Erie and Huron. VHSv was detected in yellow perch in Lake Superior from the Paradise area in 2009 and in lake herring from the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin’s waters. The virus has been found in fish sampled in Lake

Huron from Cheboygan and Thunder Bay in 2006 and in spottail shiners from Saginaw Bay in March 2010. Fish have been found to be positive from Lake Erie in Ohio’s waters each year since 2006. VHS virus has been found in fish in Lake Michigan, but not in Michigan’s waters. And it has been found in at least two inland lakes—in Budd Lake in Clare County in 2007; and in Baseline Lake in Washentaw County in 2009.

“There is no known treatment for VHS,” said DNRE Fish Production Manager Gary Whelan. “Our best defense against it is trying to prevent its spread. It is important to anglers to realize that the virus is not yet widely distributed in Michigan, thus anglers have the opportunity to help slow its spread by using baitfish properly.”

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Volunteers needed for “Get Hooked” event

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment needs volunteers for the “Get Hooked” fishing event dates to be held at Grand Haven State Park in May.

The Pursuing a Dream Foundation, in partnership with Wheelin’ Sportsmen and other local area partners and volunteers, is sponsoring three fishing events at Grand Haven State Park for children with disabilities from the Grand Haven Public School District. Over a span of three days, the “Get Hooked” event will take students from Grand Haven Public Schools, ranging from kindergarten through the 12th grade, fishing at the Grand Haven Channel.

“Get Hooked” events are being held May 7, 13 and 14. Each day will be a different age group of students. Last year, about 226 children from the area were able to experience and enjoy fishing at the Grand Haven State Park channel.

More sponsors and volunteers are needed to help children bait their hooks, cast lines, remove fish, or anything else that can be done to contribute to making this a memorable day. Buses will arrive at the channel around 9 a.m., and a volunteer will be assigned to a group of children. Fishing poles and fishing gear will be provided, and the children will be able to fish until 10:30, before the buses are loaded to take them back to school.
This is a great opportunity to “GO-Get Outdoors” and mentor a small group of children. Volunteers are needed for each day, and no experience is necessary, though basic fishing skills are helpful.

For more information about these events, or to volunteer or participate, contact Randy Hansen, program coordinator, at 616-842-6638 or randy@centennialsec.com, for more details and a volunteer form. For more information about the Pursuing a Dream Foundation and future events, visit www.pursuingadream.org.

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DNRE seeks authority to use lethal control on problem wolves

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for authority to use lethal methods to control problem wolves.

“The grey wolf has been fully recovered in Michigan, and the state has demonstrated its ability to wisely manage this species,” said DNRE Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “We are in the position to make informed, wise decisions in handling individual animals that are causing depredation.

“While it may appear that trapping and relocating problem animals is a solution, research and practice have shown this alternative to be less humane and effective in addressing depredation,” Mason added. “The state is seeking to restore its full authority in addressing wolf depredation, and we strongly encourage the USFWS to move forward with delisting this recovered species.”

The USFWS has published a public notice of the DNRE’s permit in application and will accept public comments on it through May 20.

Citizens who wish to comment may do so by writing:
Regional Director
Attn: Peter Fasbender
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 5111-4056or by email at permits.R3ES@fws.gov.

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DNRE collecting angler information

As fishing season shifts into a higher gear, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminds anglers that department personnel will be collecting data at lakes, rivers and Great Lakes ports about anglers’ fishing experiences.

DNRE creel clerks will ask anglers about how long they fished, what species they were targeting, how well they did, and where they live. In some cases, they may ask to measure or weigh fish and take scale samples.

The efforts are part of the Statewide Angler Survey Program.

“The point of the whole program is to characterize how many fish are harvested, how many hours anglers spend fishing, and what fish they’re targeting,” said DNRE fisheries biologist Tracy Kolb. “The primary goal is to ensure we have enough information to manage our fisheries across the state.”

Biologists will also try to determine “which lakes are really important to people, which lakes they’re willing to travel long distances to fish, and which lakes are mostly just local fisheries,” Kolb said.

It usually takes only a couple of minutes to answer the questions. The DNRE appreciates anglers’ cooperation.

Anglers interested in seeing the results from surveys of Great Lakes in previous years can find them on the DNRE website at www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing.

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DNRE announces new bowhunting program

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment announced the launch of the new Explore Bowhunting program. Explore Bowhunting is an outdoor conservation education program that focuses on the interactions of people with wildlife.

The program, developed by the Archery Trade Association (ATA), teaches students how to interact with the natural world by developing the basic skills used to bowhunt, which focus on getting close to animals. Not only does Explore Bowhunting teach students how to interact with nature using ageless hunting skills, it also teaches students an appreciation of what is around them and enhances their encounters with the outdoors.

The program is designed for students ages 11-17, however, this does not limit the use of the program. Adults and younger students would also enjoy this innovative curriculum.

“The Explore Bowhunting curriculum is more than a tool to teach bowhunting. It is designed to teach students how to feel comfortable in the outdoors whether the goal is to bowhunt, photograph wildlife, or interact with nature for any purpose,” said Mary Emmons, DNRE Archery Education coordinator.

The activities within the curriculum can be used from start to finish, individually or in units to teach the basics of bowhunting or to teach students necessary skills to get close to wildlife. “However, Explore Bowhunting is not a replacement for Hunter Education or the International Bowhunter Education Program (IBEP),” Emmons said.

The DNRE is currently seeking teachers, after school and recreational program leaders and others who are interested in implementing the Explore Bowhunting curriculum. Educators will be required to attend a free one-day instructor workshop prior to program implementation.

For more information on Explore Bowhunting or to register for a workshop, contact Mary Emmons at (517) 241-9477 or e-mail her at emmomsm@michigan.gov. You may also visit the DNRE website at www.michigan.gov/explorebowhunting.

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