Category: Outdoor Activities

Bicycles Take Over Michigan; more than 150 Schools to Celebrate Bike to School Day May 7th

More than 150 schools in Michigan will join students around the country in observing the third annual Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 7. Thousands of Michigan students, along with their parents, teachers and community leaders, are expected to participate.

“Bike to School Day events help raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for bicycling and walking, and emphasize the importance of increasing physical activity for children,” said Marilyn Lieber, president and CEO of the Michigan Fitness Foundation. “Bike to School events build connections between families, schools and neighborhoods while enhancing pedestrian safety and reducing traffic congestion.”

Bike to School Day encourages a nationwide bike-focused celebration for students in the month of May and builds on the popularity and success of Walk to School Day, which is celebrated nationally and internationally each October.

Wednesday’s event is being organized by the Michigan Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, which works to create new, safe routes for children to travel to and from school, and promote mental and physical health.

As part of the Michigan Fitness Foundation, the Michigan SRTS team partners with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to work with schools, families and communities across the state to enhance active transportation through a variety of modes. Federal funding for SRTS programs was established by Congress in 2005 and continued under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) of 2012. MDOT’s role is to administer the federally legislated SRTS program.

The Michigan Fitness Foundation and the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports work to bring about behavior change through programming, special projects and events that encourage citizens to build physical activity and sound nutrition into their daily lives. By empowering, promoting and celebrating healthy choices, the Foundation works to foster prosperity for all.

For additional local information about Bike to School Day, please contact Ben Kohrman at 517-908-3833 or bkohrman@michiganfitness.org. For additional information, please visit these websites:

Michigan Safe Routes to School – www.saferoutesmichigan.org

Walk and Bike to School Day – www.walkbiketoschool.org

National Center for Safe Routes to School – www.saferoutesinfo.org

April is Physical Activity Month

After surviving these brutal winter months, most Michiganders will be looking for any opportunity to enjoy warm temperatures, sunny skies and longer daylight hours promised in spring. This April the American Heart Association is encouraging all Michiganders to welcome the spring season with a new exercise routine and commitment to heart health for Physical Activity Month.

Physical activity remains key to preventing heart disease and stroke – the No. 1 and No. 4 killers of all Americans – and is considered anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, and include walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.

To improve overall cardiovascular health, the association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).

For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, the association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. Dividing activity time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day can still lead to immediate health benefits for working professionals with limited time for traditional exercise in their schedules.

Physical exercise is proven to improve both mental and physical health. Studies show that for every hour of physical activity, life expectancy may increase by 2 hours.

The simplest, positive exercise to effectively improve your heart health is walking. It’s free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it and start a routine during the spring season. Find ways to make walking – or any enjoyable form of exercise – a regular and satisfying part of life this spring.

And remember – something is always better than nothing! Everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you’ve been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don’t think you’ll make it for 30 or 40 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. Work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don’t let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day!

For more information on physical activity and other healthy lifestyle tips, visit: www.heart.org.

Muskegon State Park offering free night of camping for volunteers May 3-4

Muskegon State Park is offering one free night of camping at its Lake Michigan campground for individuals who volunteer May 3 or 4 to help clean up at least two campsites.

The campground has a total of 106 campsites. Interested participants must register to camp for two nights and volunteer to help clean up at least two campsites to receive one free night of camping. Participants also are asked to bring appropriate clothing for outdoor work, such as long pants, boots and gloves, as well as rakes or leaf blowers if they have them. Safety glasses and earplugs will be provided or volunteers can furnish their own.

The park also will host a “meet and greet” at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at campsite 103. This session will include free coffee and donuts and information about clean-up safety and goals.

The Lake Michigan campground is located across from the Muskegon Sports Complex on North Scenic Drive. Volunteers can book reservations as walk-ins or make advance reservations by calling 1-800-447-PARKS or online at www.midnrreservations.com. For more information about this event or Muskegon State Park, contact the park at 231-744-3480 or visit www.michigan.gov/muskegon.

Snyder Signs Bills Supporting Recreation Development And Natural Resource Protection

Approves more than $27 million in MNRTF grants, boosts trail projects

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation authorizing more than $27.6 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants, with nearly half of the funding allocated to trail development across the state.

The grants support 44 outdoor recreation development projects and 32 land acquisition projects. They also provide $12,959,400 for statewide trail enhancement and will reinforce Michigan’s reputation as the nation’s trail state.

“Our state’s outdoor recreation provides unlimited opportunities for Michiganders and visitors to enjoy unmatched natural resources and improve their physical health,” Snyder said. “With nearly $13 million in new grant funding to expand our trail system we can link existing corridors, boost tourism, stimulate local economies and ultimately continue Michigan’s comeback.”

Senate Bill 780, sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher, furthers access to outdoor recreation and reflects the Trust Fund’s spending recommendations to allocate funding to both state and local agencies for development projects. It is now Public Act 114 of 2014.

This year’s recommendations illustrate the Trust Fund board’s focus on trail acquisition and development at the local level. Agencies in Berrien, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Lapeer, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties will share $7,385,800 for seven trail-related acquisitions. Fifteen local and three state trail-related development projects will receive $5,573,600.

“Michigan is home to unique and irreplaceable natural resources that drive local and state economies, and we strongly consider how proposed projects can best support that economic engine,” said Sam Cummings, chairman of the MNRTF. “The Trust Fund board is excited and honored to participate in bringing these projects to life. They represent an extraordinary expansion of available recreation opportunities for the state and dozens of communities.”

Throughout its history, the MNRTF has provided more than $175 million toward trail development. See the full list of this year’s acquisition and development projects here.

The MNRTF is a restricted fund established in 1976 and can only be used to fund public outdoor recreation projects. It provides a funding source for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation. Revenue is derived from interest and earnings on invested funds earned from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights. In 1985, voters made the Trust Fund part of Michigan’s Constitution, ensuring the program’s future.

Learn more at the Department of Natural Resources website www.michigan.gov/mnrtf.

Snyder also signed legislation improving implementation of the Clean Michigan Initiative.

SB 719, also sponsored by Booher, allows for renegotiation of Clean Michigan loan repayment and interest rates in times of financial hardship in cases where redevelopment of a property does not result in the expected property value increase. It also requires proper reporting of financed loans and any changes to the term of the loans. It is now PA 115 of 2014.

The initiative allows the state to borrow up to $675 million and issue bonds to finance environmental and natural resources protection as part of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Local units of government and Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities may be provided grants totaling a combined $75 million for projects at facilities with redevelopment potential.

For more information, visit legislature.michigan.gov.

Get Outdoors with Winter Activities

Friday, Feb. 7:
Van Riper State Park (Marquette Co.): Candlelit Cross-Country Ski & Snowshoeing, 7-9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 8:

Hartwick Pines State Park (Crawford Co.): Candlelit Cross-Country Ski, 6-9 p.m.
Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area (Lapeer Co.): Candlelit Cross-Country Ski, 6-8 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 9:
Sleepy Hollow State Park (Clinton Co.): Owl Prowl, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 15:
Seven Lakes State Park (Genesee Co.): Ice Fishing Derby & Rec 101: Intro to Ice Fishing, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Waterloo State Recreation Area (Washtenaw Co.) Rec 101: Intro to Ice Fishing, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Rifle River State Recreation Area (Ogemaw Co.): Family Winter Event, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Luce Co.): Snowshoe Race, 11 a.m.
William G. Milliken State Park (Wayne Co.) Winter Antics in the Park, 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, Feb. 16:
Bald Mountain State Recreation Area (Oakland Co.) Rec 101: Intro to Ice Fishing, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 22:
Maybury State Park (Wayne Co.) Rec 101: Intro to Snowshoeing, 10 a.m.
Hartwick Pines State Park (Crawford Co.): Candlelit Cross-Country Ski, 6-9 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 23:
Pinckney State Recreation Area (Washtenaw & Livingston Co.): Rec 101: Intro to Snowshoeing, 10 a.m.

DNR Introduces State Park and Harbor E-Gift Cards

With the holidays around the corner, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that – starting Dec. 20 – it will offer e-gift cards for sale. These new e-gift cards can be purchased online at www.midnrreservations.com and can be redeemed at any Michigan state park or state harbor, online or at the call center (800-44-PARKS).

Starting Dec. 20, 2013, DNR e-gift cards will be available for purchase and can be used at state parks and harbors.E-gift cards can be purchased for any whole dollar amount after a $5 first-time minimum has been met, and the cards are reloadable.

DNR e-gift cards make a great gift for outdoor lovers, making it easy to give the gift of camping or a special day at a beautiful Lake Michigan state harbor.

“We’re excited to offer this new, customer-friendly feature just in time for the holiday season,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “Early next year, we look forward to expanding our gift card options to include the more traditional option of ‘real’ gift cards that people can carry in their wallets and take with them on the go.”

Over the last few years, the DNR has offered $25 gift certificates for sale in the e-store. The sale of these paper certificates will be discontinued in 2014. State parks and harbors will honor the redemption of already-purchased paper gift certificates at their facilities.

“We think all of the outdoor enthusiasts on your holiday list would definitely be excited to get the gift of the outdoors in their stockings Christmas morning,” said Olson.

To learn more about the state parks and harbors e-gift card or to purchase one, visit www.midnrreservations.com starting Dec. 20. The “gift card” link is at the top of the page near the sign-in and shopping card options, and is also available as a blue icon at the bottom right of the page near the popular selection for viewing state park or harbor reservation availability on a list, a calendar or a map.

Purchasers of e-gift cards will be able to print a “giftable” certificate.

More Than 40 Partner Organizations Pledge Support for Belle Isle

Over 40 organizations – including businesses, nonprofit groups and representatives from local, state and national government – gathered today on Belle Isle in Detroit to pledge their commitments to help revitalize the historic island park.

The event, under the theme “All in for Belle Isle,” was sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in conjunction with the City of Detroit and the Belle Isle Conservancy. Belle Isle is in transition to becoming Michigan’s 102nd state park. A 90-day transition period will culminate Feb. 10 when the DNR assumes management of the park under a recently approved lease. The park will remain under city ownership.

Partners pledged a variety of support to island revitalization and recreation enhancement. Those pledges included: assistance with funding for infrastructure improvement; donation of a nature trail and picnic shelters; softball field renovation; and continuation of youth employment programs that will revitalize the park while offering employment training to Detroit-based youth and young adults.

“Partner support is critical to long-term success on Belle Isle,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The DNR can’t do it alone. Today we saw the breadth and depth of that partner support. Together with these partners and the City of Detroit, the state is committed to enhancing Belle Isle’s reputation as a world-class destination for Detroit residents and all of Michigan.”

Work has already begun, as evidenced by activities around the island this week. Crews are engaged in hazardous tree removal and grinding, shelter re-roofing, refuge barrel replacement, picnic table board replacement and other improvement efforts.

“Belle Isle is central to the life of Detroit and its citizens,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. “It’s a cultural and historic gem. For the citizens of Detroit and the state, Belle Isle deserves to be maintained and operated at the highest standards. The Michigan state park system is a proven, award-winning management structure that, in combination with an outpouring of partner support and pledges, will enhance Belle Isle and complement the quality of life for our residents.”

The Belle Isle lease, accepted on Nov. 12 by the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board and previously approved by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Gov. Rick Snyder, DNR Director Creagh and Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle, provides for an initial 30-year term with two 15-year renewals.

“The City of Detroit will remain a close and continuing partner in the operation of Belle Isle,” said Detroit City Council Member James Tate. “A state-city partnership is a great opportunity to revitalize Belle Isle, and we’re excited about the possibilities. Work is already in progress and partners are lining up to assist.”

A seven-member committee established in the lease will advise the state on improvements and master planning for the park. A minimum of three members of the committee will be residents of the city of Detroit. The state will work cooperatively with the Belle Isle Conservancy and other partners, in collaboration with the advisory committee, to develop and improve the park.

“The conservancy is truly committed to working with the state and its many public and private partners,” said Belle Isle Conservancy President Michele Hodges. “This is a fantastic opportunity to work closely with the many organizations that, like us, want to see this special island park enhanced for the greater good. On Tuesday, the Conservancy once again showed its support by pledging to be ‘All in For Belle Isle.’”

Representatives from 13 partner organizations verbalized commitments at Tuesday’s event, including:

  • Michele Hodges, president, Belle Isle Conservancy, pledging assistance with generating significant funding from foundations, corporations and private donors; expertise in environmental stewardship, historic preservation, aquarium operation and more; providing over 4,500 volunteers per year; and providing social capital, relationships and institutional knowledge;
  • Faye Nelson, president and CEO, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, pledging to continue work with the DNR in maintenance, operations and programming initiatives, similar to those utilized along the Detroit riverfront;
  • Dr. Grenae Dudley, president and CEO, Youth Connections, pledging continuation of the work on the island already started by over 200 Youth Connections Career Academies Youth Ambassadors, including trail maintenance and removal of phragmites and other invasive species, and restoring and renovating various areas and providing exceptional customer service;
  • Maria Adams-Lawton, executive director, Healthy Kidz, pledging continued assistance through youth employment program projects, such as the recently rehabilitated Oxbow Comfort Station;
  • Nicholas Mukhtar, chief executive officer, Healthy Detroit, in partnership with the National Prevention Strategy and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pledges to work with the DNR and Belle Isle Conservancy to improve the recreation and fitness-related infrastructure on the island in order to provide residents better access to the resources they need to live healthy lives;
  • Charles Burns, general manager, Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, pledging continued funding for revitalization efforts, including donations of a nature trail and picnic shelters  and pledging to continue to showcase Belle Isle to a national and international audience during the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix;
  • Erin McDonough, executive director, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, pledging assistance from conservation groups to participate in wildlife habitat and invasive species control, as well as making a commitment in partnership with the St. Clair Walleye Association to bring anglers of all ages to Belle Isle to access Detroit’s world-class fishing opportunities; and, as Trustee of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, pledging over $200,000, which has already been committed, to restoring two universal, shore-based fishing access points on Belle Isle;
  • Rebecca Salminen Witt, president, The Greening of Detroit, pledging the support of its Green Corps Summer Youth Employment Program for landscape maintenance, tree planting, green job training, and continued beautification of the island;
  • Charles Wooley, deputy regional director, Midwest region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pledging assistance in wildlife habitat restoration for species such as sturgeon and terns, which also provides recreational opportunities for visitors;
  • Mike Reynolds, regional director, Midwest region, National Park Service, pledging support of Belle Isle efforts and coordination through federal grant sources;
  • Justin Jacobs, founder, Come Play Detroit, pledging programming assistance for recreational sports leagues and events and assistance in softball field renovation to bring people of all ages to Belle Isle;
  • Dr. Bob Bartlett, president of Michigan Colleges Foundation, sponsor of Third 90 Network program, pledging help in encouraging Detroit high school students to consider STEM (science, technol ogy, engineering, math)-related majors in college, and participate in the stewardship and natural resources activities on Belle Isle; and
  • Gildo Tori, director of public policy, Ducks Unlimited, pledging support of wetland and waterfowl restoration and conservation on Belle Isle for people to enjoy.

Copper Peak to be Reinvented as World’s Largest Summer Ski Jump 2014 Winter Exhibition Delayed

IRONWOOD, MI – The Federation of International Skiing (FIS) has granted Copper Peak its approval to move forward with extensive renovations that will transform the hill into the largest summer ski jump in the world. The full facility plan includes a USA Ski Jumping National Training Center, which will allow athletes to use the Peak from the middle of June to October and through the winter. Originally built as the only ski flying hill in North America, Copper Peak will be reshaped to meet exacting FIS standards for ski jumping. The winter exhibition that was to be held at Copper Peak on February 28 through March 2, 2014 will be delayed due to immediate construction preparation. All funds already collected will be returned to ticketholders.

The original plan presented to FIS included only renovations sufficient to permit the 2014 Winter Exhibition. However, FIS sees far greater potential for Copper Peak and has recommended a new focus on renovating the hill for expanded usage. This is due in part to the booming international popularity of summer ski jumping. Europeans in particular have embraced the sport because of its more temperate weather for fans and fewer technical variables for skiers. The renovation will reposition Copper Peak as a premier destination for prestigious competitions, such as the FIS Summer Grand Prix – an event that draws the world’s top ski jumpers.

The potential regional economic and publicity impact of the restoration is significant. “Copper Peak is on the verge of international prominence,” said Mike Holland, former ski flying world distance record holder and USA Ski Jumping Chief of Club Support. “U.S. and world ski jumping communities are abuzz with excitement over plans to modernize Copper Peak. Soon, large crowds will flock to Ironwood in the winter AND summer to watch the best men (and women!) ski jumpers in the world.” Under this plan, Copper Peak will expand its possible ski jumping usage from three days a year in the winter to include as many as 50 days during the summer season, and draw potentially thousands of additional international visitors.

“What’s about to happen at Copper Peak is just plain amazing,” adds Bryan Sanders, a 1992 Winter Olympian and Chief of Competition for Copper Peak. “The Peak is reinventing itself 44 years after it first opened and 20 years after it was last used. We will embark immediately with plans to modernize the facility for both winter and summer use, and both day and nighttime use. Once complete, the Peak will attract elite athletes from around the world at both winter and summer competitions, possibly as early as 2015.”

Kris Severson, former Copper Peak flyer and sports producer, is also excited at the prospect. “The recommendations from the recent FIS visit were extremely positive. They view Copper Peak as an international ski jumping landmark. This is like a gold medal for U.S. ski jumping.”

Copper Peak opened in March 1970, and remains the largest ski jump on the American continent. Some of the world’s greatest ski jumpers and ski flyers, including Olympic champions from Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, started their early flying careers at Copper Peak. From 1970 to 1994, ten ski flying competitions took place on the Peak. Although there have been no competitions since then, for decades Copper Peak has drawn more than 10,000 visitors per year as the top tourist attraction in the Western Upper Peninsula.

Youth Waterfowl Hunts at Saginaw Bay Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas

Bring your young hunter to one of Saginaw Bay’s Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas (MWHAs) in October and November for a thrilling hunting experience. Three Saginaw Bay MWHAs will host youth priority drawings for hunts in the upcoming weeks:

  • Nayanquing Point in Pinconning will host its youth hunt on Saturday, Oct. 26;
  • Fish Point in Unionville will host youth hunters on Saturday, Nov. 2; and
  • Shiawassee River in St. Charles will hold its youth hunt on Saturday, Nov. 9.

Parties with at least one youth will be given priority in the afternoon draw at all three MWHAs. Other parties will then be placed in a separate drawing for the remaining zones.

Drawings for afternoon hunts will occur at 11 a.m. Youth priority drawings are available for hunting parties with at least one youth and up to two adults (maximum party size is four). All youths participating in these priority hunts must be properly licensed to hunt. Youth hunters 9 years old and younger must be accompanied by a qualified Mentored Youth Hunting Program mentor.

Youth hunters are always welcome at the managed waterfowl areas. These youth priority drawings simply provide youths with the chance for good choices in selecting hunting zones.

Youths and adults participating in these hunts are encouraged to become Michigan Waterfowl Legacy members. Michigan Waterfowl Legacy membership kits for kids and adults will be passed out at each area during this priority draw.

The Michigan Waterfowl Legacy (MWL) is a 10-year, cooperative partnership to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan’s waterfowl, wetland and waterfowl hunting community. The initiative is a “call to action” to honor yesterday, engage today, and build for tomorrow. To learn more about the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy, visit www.michigan.gov/mwl or look for MWL on Facebook.

The Saginaw Bay Region MWL has been funded in part by a grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN). The Saginaw Bay WIN is a community-based, voluntary initiative that connects people, resources, organizations and programs and works to improve the quality of life in the area by developing projects, supporting related organizations and developing the region’s identity as a sustainable community.

The Wetland Wonders Challenge, sponsored by Consumers Energy and running until Jan. 31, 2014, is also happening at these same areas. Youth and adult hunters that hunt at three MWHAs can be entered in the contest. Seven winners will be chosen to win ultimate waterfowl hunting prize packages valued at $1,000, including a “Golden Ticket” that’s good for one first-choice pick at an MWHA for the 2014-15 season (non-reserved). Check out www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders to read contest terms and conditions.

Warren Miller’s “Ticket to Ride” 2013 Ski Movie Tour – November 8th & 9th

MARQUETTE, MI & HANCOCK, MI – Celebrate the beginning of the greatest season of the year with Ticket to Ride, Warren Miller Entertainment’s newest chapter in the chronicle of the legendary film series. Ticket to Ride explores the close relationship between humans and our vast natural environment, as the sports best skiers and snowboarders take an action-packed journey across the globe to shed light on the significance of being aware of your surroundings. Experience the immense energy of the world’s most sought-after destinations and discover secrets of the lands with Warren Miller’s 64th ski and snowboard film, Ticket to Ride.

Warren Miller’s Ticket to Ride takes film-goers on an exhilarating voyage to the top of the steepest peaks and to the depths of the freshest powder of Iceland’s Troll Peninsula, The Fjords of Greenland, The Alaskan Tordirllos, Montana’s Big Sky country and more. The trams and trains in Switzerland climb to Mt. Eiger, the fishing boats in Norway float to Alesund, and the helicopters in Valdez soar above avalanche debris, all making viewers motivated and excited to discover their Ticket to Ride. Once again, winter begins with Warren Miller and it’s time to get your Ticket to Ride.

 

A fundraiser for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. There will be door prizes, pre-season ski party, and showing of the film.

Date: Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th

Venue:   FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH: Marquette Mountain, Marquette, MI

                 SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9TH: Orpheum Theater, Hancock, MI

Event Time: 7 p.m. at both venues

Cost: $5 students (includes college)

$10 Adults

Contact: Bob Hendrickson, event organizer

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame
610 Palms Ave.
Ishpeming, MI 49849
906.485.6323
www.skihall.com