DNR News: Fishing weir tours, free youth deer hunting licenses, outdoor rec mapping tool

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News Digest - Week of Sept. 10, 2018

It's not too early to start thinking about Harvests & Haunts fun at Michigan state parks

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at michigan.gov/dnrpressroom.

Enjoy free weir tours in northern Michigan during fall fish egg-take efforts

The fall season is a busy time at DNR weirs in northern Michigan, making it a great time to visit and see big Great Lakes fish up close.

Don't miss the chance to see big Great Lakes fish up close during free fall tours at the Boardman River Weir in downtown Traverse City, the Little Manistee River Weir in Manistee County and the Upper Platte River Weir in Benzie County. The tours, running through the end of September and throughout October, are a great opportunity for the public and school groups to get a firsthand look at important fish management work. 

Weirs are structures that block upstream fish passage on a river. DNR staff use a weir on the Boardman River each fall to collect surplus chinook and coho salmon. On the Little Manistee River, a weir is used to harvest chinook salmon in order to collect fertilized eggs, a key part of managing fish production for this species. It's a critical time for collection of fertilized coho salmon at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery, too, for the continued production of this species in the DNR hatchery system. 

Staff from the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center and Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center will conduct the tours, which will cover salmon biology, how weirs and fish ladders work, invasive species, state fish hatcheries, and the DNR’s annual egg collection efforts. The programs tie in components of history, ecology, biology and stewardship.

Boardman River Weir tours begin the week of Sept. 17 and will run through mid-October. Tours will be offered at various times Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with group tours available by appointment

Platte River Weir tours run during the coho salmon egg-take season and are slated for Oct. 16-18 and 23-25 and Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Check weir activity by calling 231-325-4611, ext. 21. Group tours available by appointment.  

Little Manistee River Weir guided tours are offered Oct. 2-3 and 9-10. Call the weir hotline at 231-775-9727, ext. 6072 to check activity status and fish readiness. Group tours available by appointment. Book a tour here or contact Edward Shaw, 231-779-1321 or Shana Ramsey, 269-668-2876 for more information.

All tour dates are subject to change based on the progress of this year’s salmon runs. 

New web presence, mapping tool showcase Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry

A new DNR mapping tool will help showcase outdoor recreation businesses in Michigan

Earlier this year, the DNR and the Natural Resources Commission created the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council, a group geared toward increasing awareness of the many manufacturing, retail and service companies that support outdoor recreation, as well as building more connections within that statewide community. 

“The Michigan businesses in this sector have great stories to tell,” said Marc Miller, DNR deputy for regional initiatives and the outdoor recreation industry. “We’re committed to finding new ways to strengthen the industry, build relationships and work together to discover opportunities for growth – all of which will mean better outdoor recreation experiences and more fun for the public.”

A new DNR interactive map, available at michigan.gov/mi-outdoorrec, allows users to navigate the state to find outdoor recreation businesses, as well as explore industry research. The site also offers a signup option for those interested in receiving email updates on the work of the council and industry developments. 

Public listening sessions – opportunities to talk with consumers, retailers and other outdoor enthusiasts about industry relevance and challenges – also are under way. Set dates include Sept. 14 in Escanaba at Bay College and Jan. 9 at a meeting of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance in Houghton. More dates and locations will be shared as they’re finalized. For more details or to RSVP, email DNR-Outdoor-Rec@michigan.gov.

Questions? Contact Marc Miller, 517-284-6432.

Free junior deer hunting licenses available at Meijer Friday/Saturday

Young hunters have the opportunity to get a free deer hunting license at all Meijer stores in Michigan Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14-15.

Young hunters once again will have the opportunity to get a free deer hunting license at all Meijer stores in Michigan Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14-15.

Youths must be accompanied by an adult, and can receive the free junior deer hunting license coupon in stores. Locate a Michigan Meijer store.

The deal is valid for a single junior deer hunting license, a $20 value, or mentored youth hunting license. Those who hunt in Michigan also must purchase a base license, which costs $6 for youth, ages 10-16. The base license allows hunters to hunt small game and purchase additional hunting licenses. The mentored youth hunting license, valid only for hunters under the age of 10, includes a base license and does not require separate purchase of the base license.

Meijer has offered youth hunters free deer hunting licenses since 2008. Last year, more than 54,000 young hunters got free licenses during the weekend giveaway.

Questions? Contact your local Meijer store.

48th annual Saginaw Bay fish community survey under way

Yellow perch is one of the fish species being studied in the annual Saginaw Bay fish survey.

DNR staff again will use trawling and gillnetting on Saginaw Bay to survey the area's fish community, marking the 48th consecutive year the department has surveyed the bay to determine the abundance and health of fish populations including walleye and yellow perch and and those they forage.

“The timing of late summer or early fall allows us to assess how much reproduction has taken place for the year, as well as the overall abundance of older age groups of fish,” said Dave Fielder, DNR fisheries research biologist out of Alpena. “The use of the same methods each year allows us to detect population changes in each species.”

This survey annually produces data to gauge the effects of fisheries management actions and invasive species on fish populations found in the bay. While the DNR does other work in Saginaw Bay – such as walleye tagging projects, creel surveys and habitat work – this fish community study is the department’s primary look at the status of the fish populations. 

Long-term surveys such as this one are critical to understanding fish communities and how they are changing. It takes about two to three weeks and two research vessels (the R/V Tanner out of Alpena and the R/V Channel Cat out of Harrison Township) to complete.

The collected data will be analyzed and shared with fisheries managers and others before the 2019 fishing season, in order to make any needed adjustments to existing regulations.

For more information on DNR fish management, visit michigan.gov/fishing or contact Dave Fielder989-356-3232, ext. 2572 or Todd Wills, 586-465-4771, ext. 22. 

PHOTOS AVAILABLE: High-res versions of the images used above are available in this photo folder.

Events button

Ever wondered what ghost hunters do? Does the thought of apparitions send chills of excitement up your back? Take part in two full nights of paranormal investigation Sept. 15-16 at Fayette Historic State Park in the U.P.'s Garden Peninsula.  

buy and apply

Ready to hit the woods for some small game hunting? Squirrel and rabbit seasons open statewide Sept. 15. Pick up your base license (just $11 for residents 17 and older), which is valid as a small game license through March 31, 2019.

get involved

The Natural Resources Commission takes its meeting on the road Thursday to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon, a great opportunity for U.P. residents to hear about the latest in outdoor recreation and natural resource news.