DNR News: Wildlife job openings, Iron Belle Trail grants, wolf survey

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News Digest - Week of Feb. 25, 2019

A landowner standing in his forest, managed through the DNR forest stewardship program

Need help managing your forest for the future? Check out the DNR's Forest Stewardship program!

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.

Iron Belle Trail mini-grant applications due March 15

DNR intern kneels down to post an Iron Belle Trail confidence marker on Mackinac Island

The application period is open for the fifth round of grant funding for work along Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. Proposals are due March 15, with selected grant recipients announced in May.

The trail offers two distinct routes for hiking and bicycling that, together, when finished, will cover more than 2,000 miles of trail. Right now, the trail is roughly 70 percent completed.

DNR state trails coordinator Paul Yauk said this latest round of funding will focus on segments ready to go into construction this year or next, as well as project engineering and design, and the purchase of Iron Belle Trail signage.

“The Iron Belle Trail is Michigan’s ‘showcase trail’ – an outdoor recreation gem that takes trail users through many amazing places along both routes,” Yauk said. “These mini-grants go a long way toward bringing together the people and resources critical to completing each new mile of trail.”

A bicyclist riding the Paint Creek Trail in Oakland County, part of Michigan's Iron Belle Trail

Iron Belle Trail partners, communities and eligible nonprofits can submit applications for grant amounts up to $50,000. A funding match, though not required, is strongly recommended.

This is the fifth year the DNR has administered Iron Belle Trail mini-grants. The total amount of funding available for 2019 is still to be determined. Since 2015, though, more than 75 Iron Belle Trail projects have shared over $1.4 million in funding.

The Iron Belle Trail is made possible by federal, state and local units of government and many organizations and partners, including the DNR, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The mini-grant application and an interactive trail map are available at Michigan.gov/IronBelle.

Questions? Contact Dakota Hewlett, 517-284-6082.

Summer/fall job opportunities with DNR Wildlife Division

Three DNR seasonal state workers helping with Wildlife Division's goose-banding effort

If you or someone you know is seeking valuable experience working in wildlife conservation – or just an interesting job that gets you outdoors – consider applying for one of more than 200 summer and fall positions with the DNR Wildlife Division.

The division regularly hires additional staff to work these seasons at DNR state field offices, customer service centers and state game areas. Seasonal staff helps in several areas, such as:

  • Assisting with wildlife habitat maintenance and improvement, which may include cutting clearings and adjusting water levels.
  • Mowing, landscaping and facility maintenance duties.
  • Handling tasks related to wildlife surveys, nuisance animal control and equipment maintenance.
  • Collecting biological data and samples for wildlife disease monitoring.
  • Assisting hunters at DNR deer check stations.

“These positions are perfect for college students, those looking to re-enter the workforce, and seniors or retirees who want to be involved in the outdoors,” said Jennifer Schafer, Wildlife Division's human resources liaison.

Some seasonal positions currently are open for application, and more will become available in the spring. Learn more about seasonal positions in the Wildlife Division – and other openings throughout the department – at Michigan.gov/DNRJobs; scroll to the Seasonal and Temporary Positions section.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Schafer at 517-284-6163.

Hand-netting season opens March 1, dip netting opens March 20

close-up view of a gizzard shad in the palm of someone's hand

Spring fishing is right around the corner, and that means Michigan’s annual netting seasons are about to get under way. The hand-netting season opens Friday, March 1, while the dip-netting season starts up Wednesday, March 20. Both seasons close May 31. A Michigan fishing license is required.

The following species can be taken during both seasons: bowfin, carp, gizzard shad, goldfish, longnose gar, smelt and suckers. Waters open to hand netting include all Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River and the St. Marys River, including all tributaries to those waters from the mouth to a half-mile upstream. Waters open to dip netting include all Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula streams, except designated trout streams and other streams, as noted.

All other waters are closed to these activities. Full season details, as well as descriptions of dip netting and hand netting, are available on page 23 of both the 2018 (available now) and 2019 Michigan Fishing Guide (available March 1), posted at Michigan.gov/Fishing.

The use of seines, hand nets and dip nets for minnows is allowed all year on all waters (except designated trout streams and those waters closed to minnow harvest), while cast nets can be used for alewives, gizzard shad, minnows and smelt all year on the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River and the St. Marys River.

For those interested in dipping for smelt later this spring, visit the DNR’s smelt dipping and fishing opportunities webpage.

Questions? Contact Christian LeSage, 517-284-5830 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

ICYMI: Northern Lower Peninsula wolf survey under way

A gray wolf making tracks through snowy Michigan

In case you missed it, the DNR recently asked the public's help in reporting gray wolf sightings (including tracks) in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula – such "citizen science" reports help the DNR better understand the location and movements of wildlife, including wolves.

“The probability of DNR personnel observing an actual wolf or its tracks in the northern Lower Peninsula is very low,” said DNR wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch. “It’s helpful to have as many eyes as possible looking, so public reports are important for this survey.”

The citizen-based survey runs through March 15. Read the full news release.


Enjoy a maple-flavored, gourmet "plaid tie" dinner March 8 and the Lumberjack 5k run March 9, for two days of food and fun that support the Outdoor Adventure Center in downtown Detroit. Register today!


For just $11, the Recreation Passport gives Michigan residents year-round vehicle access to 100+ state parks! Make sure to check "YES" for the Passport when renewing your vehicle registration.


If you're interested in talking with DNR fish biologists and fisheries managers, join us at March and April "Conversations & Coffee" events happening around the state.

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