DNR News: Growing grasslands, NRC Lansing meeting, CO academy update

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News Digest - Week of Dec. 10, 2018

group  of cross-country skiers coming toward camera, on a snowy forest trail

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.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below are available in this folder.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Lansing

Close-up view of hands holding a lake trout

A number of fishing regulations, preliminary firearm deer season results, an update on the Fayette Historic State Park management plan, the state hatchery and planting strategy, a parks and trails update, and the state forest roads inventory are just some of the items on the agenda for the Dec. 13 meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

The commission meeting is set to start at 9 a.m. with the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee, at the Lansing Community College West Campus Auditorium, 5708 Cornerstone Drive, in Lansing. See the full agenda on the NRC webpage.

For more information or to request time for public comment at the meeting, contact Cheryl Nelson at 517-284-6237.

New program aims to boost grasslands in state game areas

A sweeping vista of a Michigan grassland

Last week, representatives of the DNR, Pheasants Forever and several other groups gathered at Maple River State Game Area (which stretches through Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties) to launch the Adopt-A-Game-Area program and dedicate a kiosk recognizing sponsors of the game area.

This new program encourages individuals and organizations to sponsor grassland habitat projects on the state-managed lands they use and value. Maple River is the first to be sponsored.

“Grasslands give important benefits to both wildlife and people. In addition to providing habitat and food resources for many wildlife species, grasslands also improve water and air quality,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “Plus, grassland areas are simply stunning to view in mid- to late summer when the prairie wildflowers are in full bloom.”

Stewart said that grassland pollinators, like bees and monarch butterflies, help to pollinate crops that keep the country fed. “Without grasslands, we’d be in real trouble,” he said. Throughout Michigan, grasslands are being converted to agriculture and development and now are one of the rarest habitat types in the world.

Mature buck peeking up over a grassy area

The new Adopt-a-Game-Area program is a partnership between the DNR, Pheasants Forever and the Hal and Jean Glassen Foundation. Expanded support of this program, through sponsorships, will provide valuable nesting, brood-rearing, foraging and winter habitat for a wide range of wildlife including deer, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, cottontail rabbits, songbirds and pollinators.

Several game areas currently are accepting sponsorships, including Adams Township, Allegan, Cornish, Dr. Gordon Guyer-August Creek, Gratiot-Saginaw, Maple River, Nayanquing Point, Pinconning Township, Petersburg, Port Huron, Rose Lake, Sharonville, Shiawassee River, St. Clair Flats, St. John’s Marsh, Verona and the Thumb Mini-game areas.

There are three sponsorship levels: gold (over $25,000), silver (over $5,000) or bronze (over $500) for tax-deductible donations.

Learn more about the program and support for these public lands at michigan.gov/pheasant. Questions? Contact Ben Beaman, the program's administrator, at bbeaman@pheasantsforever.org.

ICYMI: Deciphering sustainability in Michigan forests

A DNR forestry fireman conducts a prescribed burn to treat invasive phragmites

In case you missed it, a recent Showcasing the DNR story walks you through the important work of state forest managers and how they choose the right blend of management activities that sustain Michigan's forests for the long term:

Look across a sun-dappled clearing in the state forest not far from Newberry, and you’ll see some low-growing blueberry plants bearing ripe fruit and a sea of bracken ferns, with their leaves turning late-summer yellow.

Look a little closer, and you’ll find the forest of the future: An army of red pine seedlings scattered under the ferns — rich green needles feathering from tiny twigs.

Foresters for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources had hoped seeds from neighboring trees would sprout there after the land was cleared, a process known as natural regeneration. But not enough of the seeds found a toehold in the sandy soil ... Read the full story here.

Conservation officer recruits nearing December graduation

Recruits in the DNR conservation officer academy watch as three fellow recruits climb ropes during physical training

It's been a long, challenging journey for the 24 remaining conservation officer hopefuls in the DNR's Recruit School #9, but Dec. 21 graduation is in sight. Recruits started the academy back in July, eager to tackle the physical, mental and educational tests awaiting them in their quest to become fully licensed Michigan conservation officers. 

Many people have enjoyed following along on the recruits' experiences through a weekly blog that reports on the daily assignments and training scenarios every recruit is put through. Read all of the academy blog entries here.


Learn all about trees that stay green, even in the winter, at Always Evergreen Dec. 15 at the Gillette Visitor Center, Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon. See live examples, talk about decorating traditions and make your own tree ornament.


The Recreation Passport, just $11 when purchased while renewing your license plate, is your ticket to enjoying Michigan's great outdoors at state parks, trails and other scenic spaces. Get your Passport and get out there!


Did you know there are a number of boards, commissions and committees that advise the DNR on managing parks, trails, forests, fisheries and other natural resources? Find out about upcoming meetings happening near you.

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