DNR News: New director, Black Lake sturgeon season, NRC meeting Thursday

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News Digest - Week of Jan. 7, 2019

view of someone's boots, skis and poles, next to a lantern in the snow

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, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

DNR welcomes new director, Daniel Eichinger

Head-and-shoulders view of Daniel Eichinger, new DNR director

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced appointments for several state agencies, including Daniel Eichinger, who joins the DNR as the department's new director.

Eichinger most recently served as executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the nation’s most effective state-based conservation organization. In that role, he led MUCC’s return as a driving force for conservation and our outdoor heritage. Under his leadership, MUCC revamped its organizational structure, grew membership and launched new programs to connect people with nature.

From 2007 to 2012, he worked in various capacities with the Department of Natural Resources, first as legislative liaison, where he was heavily involved in passing the innovative Recreation Passport to fund state parks. Later, he helped establish the first Policy and Regulations Unit for the agency’s Wildlife Division.

Gov. Whitmer called Eichinger "a trusted leader in the conservation of Michigan’s abundant natural resources and outdoor heritage" and someone who "has the broad experience needed to bring innovative ideas and also successful implementation of conservation efforts and recreation opportunities here in the state.”

Eichinger, who holds bachelor’s and master's degrees in fisheries and wildlife from Michigan State University, as well as a master’s of public administration, is eager to get started in this new role. 

“Conservation is a team sport," he said. "I look forward to working with our partners to continue the thoughtful stewardship of the extraordinary natural and cultural resources that so deeply define us as Michiganders.”

2019 Black Lake lake sturgeon season set for Feb. 2

Two men in winter gear kneeling next to a lake sturgeon on a frozen lake

One of Michigan’s most anticipated angling opportunities – the annual lake sturgeon fishing season on Black Lake in Cheboygan County – will start at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. The 2019 total season limit on Black Lake is seven lake sturgeon. To reduce the chance of exceeding that limit, officials will close the season if one of two scenarios occurs:

  • The sixth fish is harvested.
  • Five fish have been harvested at the end of any fishing day.

Daily season fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The season will end either at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, or when one of the above scenarios is met, at which point DNR personnel on the lake will notify anglers to immediately stop fishing for lake sturgeon.

Registration is required to participate in the season. The DNR Onaway field station (approximately 5 miles north of Onaway on Route 11) will host early registration 2 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1.

"Early registration is a great opportunity for anglers to pick up their fishing identification flags and talk with DNR staff about season logistics and sturgeon populations,” said DNR fisheries biologist Tim Cwalinski.

Anglers are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the early registration Friday, but those unable to do so may register the next day at the registration trailer at Zolner Road ending on Black Lake. Morning registration begins at 7 a.m. each day of the season.

Anyone who successfully takes a lake sturgeon must contact an on-ice DNR employee and register the fish at the Zolner Road trailer registration site. Registration may include an examination of the fish’s internal organs and removal of a piece of fin tissue for DNA analysis and aging.

Questions? Call the DNR’s Gaylord Customer Service Center at 989-732-3541, visit michigan.gov/fishing or contact Tim Cwalinski, 989-732-3541, ext. 5072 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

Natural Resources Commission meets this week in Lansing

a young white-tailed deer

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will hold its first meeting of the new year Thursday, Jan. 10, at the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, 4125 Beaumont Road in Lansing.

The day starts at 1 p.m. with the Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries, with an agenda that includes updates on the most recent elk hunting season and a proposal outlining a deer feeding exception on Beaver Island. The Committee of the Whole follows at 2 p.m. and will cover updates on parks and trails, chronic wasting disease and the state forest roads inventory and mapping effort (PA 288), as well as a legislative report.

See the full meeting agenda and more information about the commission at michigan.gov/nrc.

Would you like to learn more about urban wood?

two men carry lumber in a work yard, with lumber planks laying in foreground

Ever wondered if there was a better use for wood that comes from trees removed from urban areas, besides fuel for roasting chestnuts or mulch for flower beds? There is, and a new Urban Wood Toolkit can provide tips on starting an urban wood use program locally.

The Urban Wood Toolkit is a series of bulletins (available at miurbanwoodnetwork.com/toolkit) funded by the U.S. Forest Service and the DNR. It’s a planning guide for municipalities, city foresters, arborists, tree care workers, sawmills and woodworking businesses that could use logs and lumber made from urban trees.

People interesting in learning more about the toolkit and starting an urban wood program are invited to join a free webinar Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. (Eastern).

“Every year, thousands of trees are removed in cities as part of routine maintenance and utility line pruning,” said David Neumann, DNR forest utilization and marketing specialist. “Most of that wood ends up in landfills, is sold for firewood or gets chipped for mulch – but it doesn’t have to. Some logs could be repurposed for use as lumber or other products.”

Such a program could be a good fit for some communities, said Kevin Sayers, DNR urban and community forestry specialist.

a modern wood-and-metal table sits against a lush green forest background

“Each tree has a story to tell, and finding higher-value uses for them at the end of their ‘life’ makes sense for many reasons,” Sayers said. “Urban wood use programs can strengthen community sustainability efforts and may help defray costs of routine maintenance and tree replacement.”

The toolkit includes step-by-step guidance and ideas on potential uses for urban wood, say the authors Jessica Simons of Verdant Stewardship and Margaret Miller of Spalted Banjo Consulting.

“People love their backyard and street trees, and they feel real loss and sadness when those trees have to be removed,” Simons said. “Urban wood products extend that connection, creating new ways for people to enjoy their trees for a lifetime. We hope that the Urban Wood Toolkit can make wood recovery and reuse common in communities all over Michigan and in other states."

This project is part of an effort to promote economic development and the sustainable and efficient use of wood products. For more information, contact Don Peterson of the Urban Wood Network at 906-875-3720 or info@urbanwoodnetwork.org.

Enjoy the outdoors, experience #MiFreeFishingWeekend Feb. 16-17

Little boy dressed in winter gear, holding a panfish

Ready to experience some of the finest fishing around? Check out the 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend Saturday, Feb. 16, and Sunday, Feb. 17. Those two days, everyone – residents and non-residents – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

During this weekend, the DNR also will waive the regular Recreation Passport requirement for vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks. Several locations may be hosting official Winter Free Fishing Weekend events perfect for anglers of all skill levels.

Michigan has celebrated winter’s #MiFreeFishingWeekend every year since 1994 to build awareness of the state's vast aquatic resources and fishing opportunities. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a natural match.

“There’s nothing better than bundling up and heading out on the ice for Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend,” said DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter. “There can be a great social component to ice fishing, making it a perfect activity for friends and family.”

Official winter #MiFreeFishingWeekend activities – coordinated by a variety of groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others – are being scheduled in communities across the state, making it easy for people to find places to fish. Learn more at michigan.gov/freefishing or contact Elyse Walter at 517-284-5839.


For many people, camping is a year-round activity! If you're up for winter camping in some of Michigan's most scenic spaces, check out your options and get ready to get outdoors.


Learn about grant programs available to help eligible communities and government agencies create recreation opportunities; join us at January recreation grant workshops.


Sometimes nature needs a hand. Interested in volunteering your time to help restore native ecosystems and remove invasive species from state parks? Several stewardship workdays coming up this month!

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