DNR News: Free Fishing Weekend, NRC meeting Thursday, wildlife staff honored

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News Digest - Week of Feb. 11, 2019

A vintage postcard view of Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee, from the Archives of Michigan collection

Vintage postcard view of Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan collection.

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 others, are available in this folder.

Get ready for #MiFreeFishingWeekend Feb. 16-17

little boy bundled up in winter clothing, holding a fishing pole, on frozen lake

Everyone in Michigan is invited to fish for free Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17, for the 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend. A license is not required to fish those two days, but all other fishing regulations still apply. Throughout this weekend, too, state parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle entry.

#MiFreeFishingWeekend is an ongoing effort to promote Michigan’s plentiful world-class fishing opportunities. While many people will bundle up and head out to fish on their own, there are several organized events already scheduled throughout the state, including:

  • OAC Outdoors – Michigan Free Fishing Weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. both days). Learn about proper ice-fishing equipment and safety practices at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit. Equipment will be provided.
  • Free Ice-Fishing Day for Kids at Camp Pet-o-se-ga in Alanson
    (Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.). Join volunteers for plenty of ice-fishing instruction. Fishing gear, hot chocolate and hot dogs will be provided.
  • 10th Annual Wakefield Volunteer Fire Department Fishing Contest
    (Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This annual effort benefits the Wakefield Volunteer Fire Department and is fun for the whole family.

Check for events in your area by visiting Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. All events are subject to weather conditions.

Questions? Contact Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839 or 269-845-2227 (cell)

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Lansing

Canada geese perched on wood pile in a wetland area

Michigan state parks' centennial anniversary, northern Lake Huron trout regulations and migratory game bird hunting seasons are just a few topics on the agenda for the next meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission Thursday, Feb. 14, in Lansing. The meeting, including all subcommittee sessions, will take place in conference rooms 101-103 of the Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Ave. The first meeting (State Parks Advisory Committee) starts at 8 a.m., followed by the Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries at 10:30 a.m. and Committee of the Whole at 1 p.m.

During the meeting, Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger is expected to approve a land use order governing proposed changes to off-road vehicle use on state forest roads in the northern Lower Peninsula, as part of a statewide inventory of those roads as dictated by Public Act 288 of 2016. The director also will consider several land transactions.

See the full draft agenda and other information about the commission on the DNR webpage Michigan.gov/NRC. Questions? Contact Cheryl Nelson, executive assistant to the commission, 517-284-6237.

ICYMI: DNR wildlife staffers honored for expertise, dedication

In case you missed it, three DNR employees recently were honored for their work with turkeys and pheasants. 

DNR wildlife biologist Brian Piccolo's commitment to helping the National Wild Turkey Federation achieve its goals for habitat conservation and preservation of turkey hunting heritage was recognized last month at the group's Michigan State Chapter Convention in Big Rapids. 

“Brian has gone above and beyond throughout the last few years to ensure that our collaborative projects, partially funded through the DNR’s Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, have been successful,” said NWTF Michigan/Indiana district biologist Ryan Boyer. “Our partnerships, projects and successes wouldn’t have been possible without him. He is well-deserving of this award.” 

Conservation partners program specialist Mike Parker and upland game bird specialist Al Stewart were recognized by Michigan Pheasants Forever at January's state convention in Lansing.

Parker was presented with the Michigan Pheasants Forever Partner of the Year award. Parker was nominated for the award for being an active member of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative steering committee and leading its Habitat Task Group. Parker provides leadership to many involved with the initiative, including DNR staff, Farm Bill biologists and Michigan United Conservation Clubs cooperative coordinator Morgan Warda.

Stewart was honored with the first Michigan Pheasants Forever Lifetime Service Award. His career has spanned well over four decades in Michigan wildlife management. He has been the state’s upland gamebird specialist for close to 20 years, and before that, worked as a wildlife biologist in southern Michigan. Stewart has been a strong supporter of Pheasants Forever, working at the organization’s National Youth Leadership Council training meeting in Michigan, contributing greatly to its success. He also has been working closely with Pheasants Forever on oversight of the Enbridge Fund and the Adopt-A-Game-Area program.


Looking for something the entire family can do? Try a winter scavenger hunt Feb. 16 at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, a fun way to explore Michigan's great outdoors. 


Buy licenses and permits, apply for drawings (like bear and elk), view your purchase history, and reprint or save valid licenses to your mobile device at


If you'd like to help the Michigan History Center share our state's unique stories, consider helping out as a tour guide, docent, greeter or other MHC volunteer opportunities.

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