Category: Outdoor Activities

Videos Offer Virtual Tours of Michigan’s ”Wetland Wonders” for Waterfowl Hunters

Hunters can check out Michigan’s seven “Wetland Wonders” – the seven premier managed waterfowl areas in southern Michigan – in a series of new YouTube videos highlighting some of these treasures. The DNR invites hunters to explore these areas this fall, and the videos offer a great resource, especially for hunters wanting to try a managed waterfowl hunting area for the first time.

Developed by the DNR, along with several partners, the five videos showcase the managed waterfowl areas at Shiawassee River State Game Area in St. Charles, Pointe Mouillee State Game Area in Rockwood, Fish Point State Wildlife Area in Unionville, Harsen’s Island Managed Waterfowl Area in St. Clair County and Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in Pinconning (the two other managed waterfowl areas are Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area and Muskegon County Wastewater Facility).

In these videos, DNR Wildlife Division staff members outline how managed waterfowl hunts work, the features of each area, hunting rules for each area, types of waterfowl present, how hunting zones are assigned to hunters and much more.

“The managed areas can be somewhat intimidating for new hunters, and these videos were developed to help ease some of that anxiety and let hunters know what to expect when they get there,” said Barbara Avers, DNR waterfowl and wetland specialist.

“Think of them as a ‘virtual tour’ of each of the managed waterfowl areas,” said Joe Robison, DNR wildlife biologist supervisor. “These videos should help answer a lot of questions for new hunters to come out and enjoy these wetland wonders.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources would like to recognize and thank the following organizations and individuals who made these videos possible: Shiawassee Flats Citizens and Hunters Association, Fish Point Wildlife Association, Michigan Duck Hunters Association (Saginaw Bay Chapter), Gibraltar Duck Hunters Association, Pte. Mouillee Waterfowl Festival, St. Clair Flats Waterfowlers, Michigan Duck Hunters Association (Blue Water Chapter) and Shawn Stahl for his efforts editing and producing the videos.

DNR Announces Site-Specific State Campground Reservations Will Soon Be Available In ‘shoulder Season’

Summer campers at Michigan’s state parks have long enjoyed the advantages of site-specific campground reservations, meaning they can reserve a specific campsite at a park and be guaranteed that campsite during their visit. Soon, campers during the “shoulder season” – mid-September to late May – will also enjoy the benefit.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently transitioning to a new, improved central reservation system (CRS) with many customer-driven improvements and features, including the addition of site-specific campground reservation capabilities for shoulder season guests. The new system provides parks with the equipment necessary to make site-specific reservations a reality.

“This is an important improvement for the many fall and winter campers who would prefer to select a specific campsite before arriving at the campground,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “We not only listened to what our guests had to say, we acted on their suggestions and now, beginning next month when the new system is implemented, this opportunity will become available.”

The registration station, made available near the campground office, makes the shoulder season site-specific reservations possible by providing assistance to campers during a time of year when park staff may be limited due to reduced staffing levels, seasonal maintenance and other operational needs. The registration station includes a yellow phone that automatically contacts the CRS call center, located in Ann Arbor, when the receiver is lifted. Campers can then work with the call center to conveniently register for any available campsite, and then continue on to their site. This is also an important feature because – after the transition to the new CRS – site-standard reservations (reserving a spot at a park but not a specific site) will no longer be available.

“With implementation of site-specific reservations during the shoulder season, it’s now very important that guests without reservations utilize the registration station prior to setting up camp,” said Jason Fleming, DNR parks and recreation operations unit manager. “Although campsites may be unoccupied at the time, they may already be reserved for that night. Registering first at the station will prevent unfortunate situations requiring unregistered campers to move sites because a particular site is already taken.”

During the transition phase to the new CRS, customers can continue to make reservations through Oct. 30 using the call center. The phone number, 1-800-44-PARKS, will remain unchanged. Reservations through the website,, will be possible until Oct. 22 at 8 p.m., when the website will be taken down to begin the transition process to the new website. The website address will not change.

Additional important transition dates include:

Oct. 22-31: Website reservations cannot be made. The call center will remain active through Oct. 30, taking reservations for dates through Oct. 31, 2013.
Oct. 25: The new reservation website goes live. Although reservations cannot yet be made on the website, customer profiles can be created and viewers can navigate the site to create familiarity.
Oct. 31: Reservations cannot be made. State parks can register walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nov. 1: The new CRS (both the website and the call center) opens to state park lodging, which typically has a one-year reservation window (camper cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges). Reservations for these facilities can now be made for dates after Oct. 31, 2013. From Nov. 1-2, campsites and slips are not reservable. During this time, campsites and slips are available at the facility on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nov. 3: The system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and harbor slips.

During the transition phase, updates and CRS-related press releases are available by visiting the DNR website and clicking on A New and Improved Campground Reservation System is Launching on November 1st.

Paddle the Muskegon River with a DNR Biologist July 27

Looking for a great way to spend a warm July Saturday? Join the DNR and Highland River Adventures on July 27 for a fun kayaking trip down the Muskegon River through the Muskegon State Game Area.

During this three-hour excursion, instructors from Highland River Adventures will provide basic kayaking lessons to get participants on the river and paddling. No prior kayaking experience is necessary.

Once attendees have mastered the art of paddling, a DNR biologist will lead a guided tour through the State Game Area, pointing out area wildlife and other natural features.

Two trips are scheduled on July 27: one from 9 a.m. to noon and another from 1 to 4 p.m. Both trips begin at Holton Duck Lake Road. Space is limited. Registration is $20 per person, which includes kayak rental. To register, visit

This event is part of the DNR’s Michigan’s Wetland Wonders Challenge II, a contest sponsored by Consumer’s Energy to spark interest in Michigan’s wetlands.
This summer, several Wetland Wonders Challenge II events will take place throughout the southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan at seven Managed Waterfowl Areas. Those who attend challenge events will be entered into a drawing for seven ultimate Michigan exploration packages courtesy of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. To learn more about the Wetland Wonders Challenge II, visit

Discover Fresh Air Fit and Rec101 Events Happening Statewide This Week!

Man kayaking

The DNR is teaming up with fitness and recreation instructors statewide to put the “out” back into workout! Grab your friends and family for a day of fun and fitness in one of Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas. Sunset paddleboarding, yoga in the woods, and beach party Zumba are just a few of the fitness and recreation programs available through the DNR’s Fresh Air Fit and Recreation 101 (“Rec101”) campaigns.

New programs are added monthly, so check back often for a complete list of fitness and recreation programs in Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas!

See the complete list of Rec101 events  >>

See the complete list of Fresh Air Fit events >>


July 16

Grand Haven State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Beach Bootcamp 9:00am – 9:45am

Charles Mears State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Tai Chi 9:30am – 10:30am

Wilderness State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Yoga 10:30am – 11:30am

Orchard Beach State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Zumba 6:15pm – 7:15pm


July 17

Holly Recreation Area–Recreation 101: Intro to Disc Golf 6:15pm – 8:00pm

Grand Haven State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Zumba Beach Party 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Highland Recreation Area–Rec 202: Sunset Paddle 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Island Lake Recreation Area–Fresh Air Fit: H2Yoga 8:00pm – 9:00pm


July 18

Burt Lake State Park–Rec 101: Intro to Golfing 5:00pm – 6:00pm

Tawas Point State Park–Nature Photography 101 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Hayes State Park–Rec 101: Intro to Stand Up Paddleboarding 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Aloha State Park–Intro to: Kayaking 6:00pm – 8:00pm


July 19

Interlochen State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Warrior X-Fit Kickboxing 9:00am – 9:45am

Sleepy Hollow State Park–Rec 101: Intro to Archery 10:00am – 12:00pm

Bay City Recreation Area–Fresh Air Fit: Pre-Weekend Cardio BLAST 10:45am – 11:45am

Otsego Lake State Park–Astronomy 101 9:00pm – 11:00pm


July 20

Interlochen State Park–Sunrise Yoga 8:00am – 8:45am

Island Lake Recreation Area–Fresh Air Fit: Fitness Obstacle Adventure Camp 9:00am – 11:30am

Holly Recreation Area–Rec 101: Intro to Hiking/Outdoor Survival 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Harrisville State Park–Astronomy 101 9:00pm – 11:00pm


July 21

North Higgins Lake State Park–Kayaking 101 12:00pm – 3:00pm


July 22

Bay City Recreation Area–Fresh Air Fit: Muscle Beach Bootcamp 9:00am – 10:00am

Bay City Recreation Area–Fresh Air Fit: Wake Up Yoga 10:15am – 11:00am

Grand Haven State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Zumba Beach Party 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Charles Mears State Park–Kite Making 101 7:00pm – 8:00pm


July 23

Bay City Recreation Area–Fresh Air Fit: Yogalates 10:30am – 11:30am

Wilson State Park–Fly Fishing 101 1:00pm – 3:30pm

Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park–Fresh Air Fit Camp: Scuba Diving Day Camp 1:00pm – 7:00pm

Muskegon State Park–Fresh Air Fit: Lake and Trail Boot Camp 6:00pm – 7:15pm

Port Crescent State Park hosts Vintage Camper Show July 25-28

All kinds of vintage campers, like this Shasta model, will be on display and open for tours at Port Crescent State Park’s Vintage Camper Show July 25-28

All kinds of vintage campers, like this Shasta model, will be on display and open for tours at Port Crescent State Park’s Vintage Camper Show July 25-28

Vintage travel-trailer enthusiasts are bringing the glory days of “trailering” to Port Crescent State Park in Huron County. The romance of the open road is coming to the tip of Michigan’s “Thumb.” Port Crescent State Park will host its Fifth Annual Vintage Camper Show from Thursday – Sunday, July 25 – 28.

This year’s event will be the largest yet, with close to 85 vintage trailers expected. On Saturday, July 27, the trailers and classic tow vehicles will be open to the public. Visitors can come see campers that have been restored or are in the process of being restored, motorhomes and pop-up trailers, as they take a walk through history. Many classic and iconic designs will be represented with real wood interiors, funky fiberglass exteriors and period furnishings.

The big RVs often seen on Michigan highways have a venerable heritage of trailer travel in the United States, and the Tin Can Tourists are keeping the tradition alive. The original Tin Canners blossomed about 1920, in the early days of auto travel from the north to Florida. The group took its name from the campers’ bring-along tin-can cuisine. Members sometimes fastened empty cans to the front of their Tin Lizzies to announce themselves to kindred spirits.

Members travel with rigs that include brands such as Shasta, Scotty, Airstream, Argosy, Helite, Travco, Newell, Yellowstone, Fan and Teardrop. Some very rare or unusual models will be shown during this year’s open house, including a 1949 American, full of polished wood and Art Deco curves. Forrest Bone, a retired high school teacher who now splits his time between Florida and Michigan, renewed the Tin Can Tourists in 1998 as a rallying group for fans of antique travel trailers. Owners and fans of vintage travel trailers are invited to join the group, which is sponsoring the event at Port Crescent State Park.

Campers participating in this show will open up their vintage trailers for tours on Saturday, July 27 from 12-4 p.m. Other activities planned for this weekend are open to all campers, including a potluck and a dance with music provided by a local D.J.

Port Crescent State Park is located at 1775 Port Austin Road in Port Austin. For more information about this event, the park, accessibility or those needing accommodations to attend this event, contact Park Supervisor Betsy Kish at 989-738-8663 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired), or visit

‘Welcome to the Water’ Campaign Offers Free On-Water Boat Experiences June 8

Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Boating Industries Association
and Association of Marina Industries partner to entice new boaters

As part of a nationwide observance, Michigan is celebrating Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day, June 8, by inviting anyone interested in learning more about what it takes to get into boating to try a free, on-water demo at any of the participating destinations.

Through a partnership with the DNR, the Michigan Boating Industries Association and the Association of Marina Industries, Michigan boating dealerships are collaborating with local marinas to provide a Boating 101 experience. Boating 101 is a free, introductory boating program with expert instruction available. Tips on trailering and boat safety and experience in operating a boat all will be part of the event.

“With direct access to four Great Lakes, and more than 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is a boating paradise,” said Nicki Polan, executive director for the Michigan Boating Industries Association. “We wanted to come together to provide an opportunity for people to experience the boating lifestyle and better understand how easy it can be to become a boater.”

“Michigan is investing in the boating community because of how important the industry is to our economy,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “That’s why we felt it was important that the taxpayers, who are partially funding the State’s dredging efforts, also have the opportunity to enjoy the experience they are helping to protect. This partnership is a great ‘front door’ for exploring boating, and we hope Michigan will take advantage of the opportunity.”

For a complete list of participating marinas celebrating National Marina Day with family-friendly activities and educational experiences, visit

Free boating demos, as well as other demonstrations and activities, will be available at:

Great Lakes Docks & Decks

Contact: Wally Dombrowski

7427 Dyke Rd (M-29), Algonac

Offering free on-water kayaking experiences from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, call 586-725-0009 or visit

Klave’s Marina

Contact: Charlotte Klave

8789 McGregor Road (on Portage Lake), Pinckney

Free paddleboarding and boating demos available from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For more information, call 734-426-4532

MacRay Harbor

Contact: Steve Remias

30675 N. River Rd., Harrison Township

Sun Sport Marine will provide boating demos from noon – 4 p.m.

For more information, call 586-350-8581

Pier 33

Contact: Tighe Curran

250 Anchors Way, St. Joseph

Marina tours and boating demos available 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, call 800-886-0493 or visit

Terrace Point Marina

770 Terrace Point Blvd., Muskegon

Free bike, kayak, paddle boat and paddle board rentals and pontoon boat tours of Muskegon Lake from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, call 231-727-8483

Wilson Marine

3981 Cass Elizabeth Rd., Waterford Township

Boat demos will be available at Island Cove Marina on Cass Lake from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information, call 248-683-0200

Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day is produced by the Association of Marina Industries, and Discover Boating. The nationwide annual event, in its twelfth year, provides an opportunity for marinas to showcase their facilities to local boaters and non-boaters alike. For more information visit

The Michigan Boating Industries Association is a non-profit trade association representing Michigan’s $3.9 billion marine industry. MBIA is dedicated to the advancement, promotion and protection of recreational boating in Michigan. For more information about the MBIA call 734.261.0123 or visit

Spend a Day at a Lighthouse

Tawas Point Lighthouse

What better way to spend a day than to visit a lighthouse, enjoy the fresh air, and play games! Join us for the annual Tawas Point Celebration Days on June 8 and 9 at the Tawas Point Lighthouse in East Tawas.

The weekend includes historical and educational displays, encampments, traditional music, games for kids and even a fishing derby!

Take a tour of the lighthouse, get a sweeping view of the horizon, and learn about the lives of those who have lived in the lightkeeper’s quarters.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Awards more than $13 million in Grants to Boost Recreational Boating in Communities Across the Nation

Boating in Communities Across the Nation

Infrastructure projects provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and create jobs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced more than $11.2 million in competitive grants to 15 states for projects to support recreational boating through the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program.  The Fish and Wildlife Service will also release approximately $2.4 million to 25 states, commonwealths, and territories willing to match a smaller, non-competitive grant program known as “BIG Tier 1” funding. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Midwest Region will receive over $1.3 million in competitive grants to projects in Michigan and Ohio.

Grantees use Boating Infrastructure Grant funds to construct, renovate, and maintain facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation. Grantees may also use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

“These grants, funded by fishing and boating enthusiasts, have helped communities across the nation build and enhance recreational boating facilities that provide recreational opportunities while supporting jobs and economic growth,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.  “This program is a win-win situation for recreational boaters, conservation initiatives and job creation.”

“The BIG Grants have major impacts – not only do cruising boaters get the benefit of facilities that they help to pay for, waterfront communities and their small businesses also get an economic boost from visitors who enjoy boating,” said Thom Dammrich, chairman of the Sport Fish and Boating Partnership Council and president of the National Marine Manufacturers’ Association.

Funding for the Boating Infrastructure Grant program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and gasoline. These grants are administered through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Projects receiving competitive grants in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Midwest Region include:

Port Austin State Harbor Dock Renovation, Port Austin, Mich. – BIG grant: $747,250; non-Federal match: $747,250; total project cost: $1,494,500

· The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation seeks to provide a safe and convenient stop for transient nontrailerable recreational vessels traveling between Detroit/Port Huron and Mackinaw City. The project will add up to 42 slips, utility pedestals, water and related amenities, which will increase use of the State Harbor by eligible boaters by an estimated 75 percent.

Ironton Riverfront Boat Ramp and Docks, Ironton, Ohio – BIG grant: $636,000; non-Federal match: $212,634; total project cost: $848,634

· The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft will support the City of Ironton in a project to construct a floating dock for transient nontrailerable recreational vessels with 30 slips, a concrete docking area and retaining wall, sidewalks, shore power, and lighting. The project will encourage transient watercraft use of the Ironton River Front, located along the southeastern Ohio River.

For more information on each of the grant projects, visit

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) is a 75-year partnership to benefit fish and wildlife, and provide Americans with access to the outdoors through a self-imposed investment paid by manufacturers and users of gear bought by anglers, boaters, hunters, and shooters and managed by Federal and State fish and wildlife agencies. Fishing and hunting licenses and motorboat fuel tax also support fish and wildlife. For 75 years, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program has provided more than $14 billion for fish and wildlife, supplied jobs for many Americans, and benefitted local economies through boating, fishing, hunting, and shooting activities.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at

Weekly Fishing Report


Inland lake fishing was light but should pick up with the warmer weather. Snow and slush on the ice are still an issue.

Copper Harbor: Conditions were dangerous as the ice is breaking up.

Keweenaw Bay: Travel can be difficult as float ice is piled high in some areas. Lake trout were caught in 180 to 260 feet of water off Whirl-I-Gig Road, 200 to 260 feet off Pequaming and 150 to 240 feet near Big Reef. Coho and Lake Herring were slow off Sand Point and the L’Anse Marina. Whitefish action was slow but a few fish were caught east of the Baraga Marina in 80 to 100 feet of water.

Huron Bay: Lake trout action was slow. Smelt fishing on the Baraga side of the bay has continued to get better.

Marquette: Much of the area from the Chocolay River to the Upper Harbor is covered with floating pack ice. A few were fishing from the “Bubblers” but activity is limited due to the moving pack ice. A road near the “Bubblers” was plowed out so anglers have access. Both the Upper and the Lower Harbors were iced in past the lighthouse.

Chicagon Lake: Ice conditions are good but travel conditions are not. Those with motorized vehicles are getting stuck in the deep snow and slush. Perch were active and some bigger fish were caught by those jigging small spoons. A couple walleye were caught in 20 feet of water.

Iron Lake: Travel on the ice here is also difficult due to the snow and slush. A few crappie ranging eight to 11 inches were caught by those jigging minnows. Catch rates for bluegill were spotty.

Groveland Mine Ponds: Still have ice with deep snow and slush.

Lake Antoine: Still has ice but the snow is deep. There are plowed roads to reach most areas of the lake. Some are getting stuck. Perch were caught on wax worms. Most of the fish were eight to 10 inches. Those targeting other species caught a couple smallmouth bass however bass season is closed. Pike action was slow.

Little Bay De Noc: Travel remains difficult in some areas because of drifting snow, slush and pressure cracks. Most anglers are now in the northern end of the bay and looking for walleye. Catch rates were fair to good with the better action at night on the Center Reef and the Third Reef with tip-ups and sucker minnows in 12 to 23 feet. Good numbers of fish were marked in the north end but catch rates were fair at best. For perch, many have caught good numbers of smaller fish. Those fishing deeper in 19 to 23 feet caught a few jumbo perch near Kipling. Near Gladstone, whitefish were caught on dead minnows in 30 to 35 feet of water. Fish were also caught near Escanaba and Sand Point in 75 to 85 feet.

Au Train: Few anglers were out because of the pack ice. Those jigging for coho caught nothing. The mouth of the Rock River and the Au Train River were iced in.

Munising: Walking on the ice may be a challenge because of deep slush in some areas. The whitefish bite was slow. Splake were still scattered. Perch were still being caught near Sand Point. Those spearing reported low visibility in the water. Trout Bay did have fishable ice but catch rates coho were slow. Anglers did manage to catch a few smelt and herring.

Munuscong Bay: Perch and walleye fishing were slow.

Cedarville and Hessel: Good numbers of perch and pike were reported in Musky Bay, Hessel Bay and Government Bay. Try 10 feet of water with wigglers, wax worms and minnows.

Spring – Best Time to Take Hunter Education Classes

Michigan residents considering hunting in 2013 and who need to complete a hunter education course should enroll in a class this spring, when offerings are plentiful. Classes are held year-round, but April, May, August and September are traditionally the months when classes are most available.

“We encourage anyone considering hunting this year who needs to complete a hunter education course to enroll now in a spring course,” said Sgt. Jon Wood, hunter education program supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources. “Waiting until the last minute before you go deer hunting this fall can often translate into difficulty finding a class or an instructor available for a field day, if you are planning to take the home-study or online course.”

Michigan has three types of hunter education courses – traditional classroom, home-study and online. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, is required to complete the course before buying a Michigan hunting license or taking an out-of-state hunting trip. Exceptions are made for youths under the age of 10 who are hunting under a Mentored Youth Hunting license or hunters older than 10 who are hunting with an apprentice hunting license. Hunters can hunt under the apprentice program for two years before they are required to take hunter education.

The traditional classroom course is a minimum of 10 hours and includes both classroom and field work with an instructor. The fee for the class is $10 or less to cover field supplies. The home-study course features a workbook to complete classwork. A field day is required with the home-study course and must be scheduled with an instructor prior to starting the course. Michigan also offers two approved online hunter education courses, and Students who choose the online course will complete their classwork online, and then have a field/skills day with an instructor and take a written exam. The field day must be scheduled with an instructor prior to starting the online course.

For more information about hunter education and locations of classes, go to