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Wetlands a vital resource for Michigan's wildlife, environment, citizenry

In 1979, the Michigan legislature passed the state's wetlands protection statute, which recognizes the benefits and important functions and values provided by wetlands. Although now recognized for their importance to wildlife, people, the environment and the economy - and with laws in place that have helped slow their loss - wetlands still face threats, including invasive species, climate change and declining Great Lakes water levels, and demand for development on existing wetlands.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman celebrates 20 years in Upper Michigan

Each year, women from across the Upper Great Lakes region and elsewhere gather at the Bay Cliff Health Camp in Marquette County for a summer weekend BOW program in June and a winter program in February. Volunteer instructors offer classes on a range of activities such as shooting firearms, fishing, cross-country skiing, paddle boarding, winter camping, kayaking and archery.

'Tis the season for Christmas bird counting

This holiday season, tens of thousands of Americans will fan out across the country with one goal in mind: finding and counting as many species of birds they can find. These observations will add to a large dataset going back 117 years to Dec. 25, 1900, when the Christmas Bird Count, known then as the Christmas Bird Census, was first established. The Christmas count remains one of the most important citizen science datasets today, helping scientists understand population declines and range shifts in North American birds.

December grouse season offers chance to expand hunting horizons

The December ruffed grouse season, Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, offers an entirely different hunting experience for deer hunters who just can't stay still, are always second-guessing the blind they chose or just want to get a few more miles out of their base license. The late grouse season offers deer hunters a great opportunity to extend their time in the field, take on a new outdoor challenge and add another variety of game meat to their table fare.

The century-long journey from Mohawk to Buffalo Reef

After more than a century, it's staggering to consider the rich copper mining history of the Mohawk and Wolverine mines, and the tremendous wealth, commerce and industry derived that provided jobs and a livelihood for miners and their families. It's also hard to grasp that the stamp sands piled on the beach and into the lake all those years ago have caused such serious problems today, threatening vital fish populations, recreational opportunity and the economic fortunes of many.

Deer hunting for the young at heart

There are some pastimes that folks age out of. When was the last time you saw someone much past grammar school shooting marbles or playing jacks? And there are other pastimes that are lifelong activities, like deer hunting.

Michigan's trapping tradition, a challenging, time-honored pursuit

Hunting and fishing have always played major roles in Michigan's heritage. But one natural resources-based recreation coterie, which garners very little attention, is quick to point out that its members' pastime is at least equally as important - if not more so - as anyone else's in Michigan history: trappers.

Hunter safety education helps keep hunting a cherished Michigan tradition

Volunteer instructors are the backbone of Michigan's hunter safety program, with about 3,000 volunteers teaching approximately 20,000 students each year.

DNR Hunting Access Program celebrates 40 years

Michigan is home to one of the nation's oldest private-public partnership programs, offering financial incentives to private landowners who allow public access to their properties for hunting. The DNR's Hunting Access Program has developed over the past 40 years, initially in the southern part of the state, recently expanding northward.

Equestrian trails a big part of Michigan's outdoor recreation scene

Michigan is home to quality horseback-riding opportunities in many regions of the state, and autumn is an excellent time to get out and enjoy them. The state boasts more than a thousand miles of state-designated trails open to equestrian riders and 20-plus equestrian-friendly campgrounds located in many Michigan state parks and on state forestland.

DNR web tool helps make hunting more productive

The Mi-HUNT tool is great for many types of outdoor recreation. With just a couple clicks of a computer mouse, the interactive map application maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources makes a great deal of valuable information, including topographic maps and aerial photographs, available for hunters, anglers, trail-users and others.

Learning about Michigan's sensational upland habitats

Michigan is home to a wide variety of spectacular habitat types. Among these, perhaps one of the most important categories is upland habitat, which offers countless recreation opportunities for the fall leaf peeper, mushroom hunter, birdwatcher, hiker, hunter, beachgoer, camper and others.

Weirs: An important DNR tool to manage fisheries, educate public

To get eggs from salmon and steelhead for fish stocking, the DNR first needs to capture the fish. This is done by use of one of the most important parts of the DNR's fish-stocking system: weirs.

Michigan's other game bird grouse - sharptails offer unique hunting opportunity

Sharp-tailed grouse are prairie birds, inhabiting grasslands and the neighboring brush, found only in the Upper Peninsula - and mostly on the east end. While only a relative handful of sportsmen hunt them, they offer a unique upland opportunity to Michigan bird hunters. 

Michigan's parks, trails and waterfalls provide great settings for leaf-peeping fall color

As one of the most wooded states in the country, with more than half of its 36 million acres of land forested, Michigan offers plenty of opportunity to see trees put on their fall color show. DNR staffers at state parks have a variety of good suggestions for places visitors in search of eye-catching autumn scenery might want to check out - by car, foot, kayak, horse or off-road vehicle, as well as by chairlift.

Black bears and humans: What you should know

For many people, the opportunity to see a Michigan black bear in the wild is an amazing experience. Everyone who lives and enjoys the outdoors in bear country shares the responsibility of not doing things that will intentionally or unintentionally attract bears and create the potential for bear problems. The best way to avoid issues with black bears is to never feed them.

New website makes it easy to find Michigan Historical Markers, visit historic places throughout state

Green-and-gold signs, known as Michigan Historical Markers, dot buildings and landscapes, sharing snippets of Michigan’s rich history. Just about anyone who’s traveled the state’s byways and highways over the last 50-plus years likely has encountered a marker or two, and for good reason – Michigan’s historical marker program is among the nation’s oldest.

DNR-club-volunteer partnerships vital to U.P trail development

What location is to real estate, partnerships, cooperation and volunteerism are to development and maintenance of Michigan's nearly 13,000 miles of designated trails. These three vital factors were all involved in a recent trail development triumph celebrated in the Upper Peninsula - completion of the roughly 25-mile Hermansville to Escanaba multi-use trail. This latest trail development success is only one project among many taking place in the Upper Peninsula, and elsewhere in Michigan.

Monitoring Michigan's migrating monarchs

Each year, thousands of monarchs congregate at Delta County's Peninsula Point as they wait to begin their migration south to Mexico. While the chance to catch the majestic sight of multitudes of monarchs boosts tourism by drawing flocks of visitors to the area, the site is even more important for its contribution to monarch butterfly research and conservation.

Understanding the importance of streamside and lakeshore habitat

The thousands of rivers, lakes and streams in Michigan are beautiful, special places, not only to a wide range of people, including anglers, boaters and campers, but numerous plant and animal species. Those areas between the water and the uplands are called riparian areas or riparian zones.

Catch a falling star at Michigan state parks

Numerous Michigan state parks will host "Meteors & S'mores," Perseid meteor shower viewing parties, on Aug. 11-12. And if you're looking for a place to explore the night sky on your own, many state parks make great stargazing locations.

Studying Michigan's massasaugas, the state's venomous rattler

Michigan has become an important laboratory for the study and preservation of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous viper that inhabits the state.

A tale of two fires: DNR firefighters detail differences in Black River Falls area blazes in Marquette County

Michigan Department of Natural Resources fire officials said some important distinctions played a role in the very different behaviors and outcomes of two fires burning in a jack pine barren — years apart, but geographically close to each other — in Marquette County.

Climb aboard as the DNR surveys lake sturgeon

The DNR has been monitoring sturgeon populations on the St. Clair River for the last 25 years with a technique that is as old as fishing itself. DNR crews use set lines that are anchored to the bottom of the river channel and sport numerous hooks to catch and tag the mysterious prehistoric fish.

Bovine tuberculosis - a disease still worth fighting

After more than two decades of study and testing white-tailed deer for bovine tuberculosis, Michigan has become world-renowned for its research and expertise on managing this serious contagious disease. Over this time, DNR wildlife managers have learned a great deal, including that continued assistance from hunters and others remains vitally necessary to make significant gains in battling bovine tuberculosis into the future.

These flags flew: Revisiting Michigan's World War I flags

The Michigan History Center in Lansing, a division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, preserves and displays the state's military flags, allowing Michigan residents to connect visually with the past, adding depth and color to their appreciation of wars that gripped our nation and greatly changed Michigan and the country.

DNR and partners 'Working for Wildlife' in southwest Michigan - oak savanna restoration

Savannas provide valuable habitat for many wildlife species such as Karner blue butterflies, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, upland sandpipers, prairie voles, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and fox squirrels.

Governor's Decision Room puts students in thick of Michigan history's milestones

The Governor's Decision Room at the Michigan History Center in Lansing Michigan History Center describes is a multiday, solution-based learning experience that allows students to collaborate as they determine the best course of action for the governor during actual historical events. Currently, the program is devoted to understanding the social, political and cultural climates surrounding the 1967 civil unrest in Detroit.

DNR and volunteers team up for natural resource stewardship

Volunteer stewardship workdays are in full swing at state parks and recreation areas throughout southern lower Michigan. In 20 locations, from Belle Isle to the dunes of Lake Michigan, people from all walks of life are rolling up their sleeves, putting on their gloves and going to work to protect high-quality natural areas from the threat of invasive species.

DNR education programs connect people to the outdoors

In most areas of the state, you're not too far away from opportunities to discover more about the outdoors with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' nature and outdoor education programs.

Michigan bass anglers ready for the weekend

The Saturday before Memorial Day is especially significant to two groups of bass anglers - those who fish tournaments and those who like to eat bass. That's because anglers can now fish for both species of bass - largemouth and smallmouth - year-round in Michigan, as long as they release them immediately, until the "possession season" arrives later this summer.

The wonder of grasslands

Perhaps one of the most underrated habitat types in our great nation is the grassland. Grasslands are so much more than empty fields – they provide great benefits to wildlife and to people as well.

Biking trails offer many options to get outside and explore 'The Trails State'

May is National Bike Month, a great time to discover both the benefits of bicycling - among them, improving your physical and mental health, cutting down on pollution, saving money on gas and getting outdoors - and the many beautiful places you can explore in Michigan on a bike.

Monarch butterflies winging their way north to Michigan

Soon we'll be welcoming back to Michigan one of the most distinctive signs that summer is on its way - the brightly colored monarch butterfly. Monarchs are on their way north from Mexico, where they spend the winter months. One of the most well-known and beloved butterfly species in North America, with their easily recognized orange and black wing pattern, monarchs have become a much less common sight in recent decades as their populations have drastically declined.

The seeds of tree appreciation are rooted in Michigan

While Arbor Day may be the only day of the year specifically set aside to celebrate trees, the importance of trees is something many organizations focus on year-round. A good number of these organizations spearhead volunteer efforts, many in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, to plant trees for the benefit of Michigan’s wildlife and communities around the state.

With the help of DNR, partners, young archers aim high

A small group of fifth-grade kids at Cherry Creek Elementary School, south of Marquette, was recently introduced to target archery by a couple of teachers and a national program supported by the DNR. Across Michigan, more than 500 schools have adopted the National Archery in the Schools program. Cherry Creek Elementary is among the most recent.

Following footsteps along a natural resources career path

It has been reasonably common in America, over generations, for youngsters to follow in the same career footsteps as their parents. Natural resources professionals are not immune. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has plenty of second- and even third-generation representatives of families who have followed the family tradition.

Springtime is a great time to experience Michigan trails

With spring now sprung, a sleeping Michigan giant is waking up - and now is a great opportunity for residents and visitors to see it. It's Michigan's growing system of designated trails, ready for endless spring and summertime opportunities to relax, have fun, travel, learn and explore.

March maple syrup making is good family fun

There’s an old saying that goes, “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks.” In this case, it was maple trees and the seed that was planted was that of inspiration for one DNR employee and his family.

Despite warm weather, ice fishing experts provide valuable instruction

Students at a recent Hard Water School, the ice-fishing clinic that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources hosts several times a winter, got a lesson in in one of the basic rules of fishing: Weather trumps all. But extra time in the classroom allowed instructors to explore some additional subjects that would not have otherwise made the agenda.

DNR salutes AmeriCorps members working in Michigan as natural resource stewards

From Adopt-A-Forest and invasive species and forest health monitoring to classroom visits and renovation of cabins and park facilities, AmeriCorps members make a tremendous positive impact serving with the Department of Natural Resources.

U.P. CWD Task Force working to inform the hunting public about deadly deer disease

With the potential threat of chronic wasting disease spreading to the Upper Peninsula from across the Wisconsin border, or by other means, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, hunter groups and others are working cooperatively to try to protect the region’s deer population and valuable hunting tradition.

Native American cultural trail deepens historical perspective on Mackinac Island

With hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, Mackinac Island has long been one of Michigan’s favorite vacation destinations. The island is known for its scenic views – often seen from a bicycle – historic attractions, fudge and horses, but until recently, many visitors did not know about its connection to Native American history and culture.

Black Lake sturgeon spearing season tradition continues in Cheboygan County

Only at Black Lake in Cheboygan County can sport anglers use spears to harvest a sturgeon. There is a strict quota limiting total angler take and, individually, anglers can harvest only one sturgeon per season. Across Michigan, fishing seasons for lake sturgeon can extend several months, depending on the water body, but the Black Lake season often lasts only a matter of hours. This year's season, which just recently concluded, was no exception.

DNR divisions work cooperatively with partners to battle summer storm damage in the western U.P.

There are numerous occasions when Michigan Department of Natural Resources divisions work together to perform a good number of tasks, but this cooperation is often unknown to the general public. Recently, in the Upper Peninsula, an especially great deal of cooperation was in evidence between several DNR divisions, as well as outside entities, called to respond to the impacts of two vicious storm systems that struck the western part of the region over a 10-day period.

Youth hunt carries tradition forward

For many decades, passing on the skills and knowledge of the hunting tradition from adults to youth has been a meaningful and vitally important part of our heritage in Michigan. Today, the practice continues, often with the help and support of hunters' groups and the DNR.

Lured into fishing by the art of decoys

Decoys have long been used by ice fishermen to lure large fish - generally pike, but also sturgeon and others - within range of the spearing hole, though some hook-and-line anglers use them as well. Primarily turned out by home-shop artisans, fish decoys were once manufactured by major bait companies, but the homemade models have become highly collectable, unique examples of American folk art.