DNR News: Spring ORV riding, adopt an osprey nest, firewood on forest land

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News Digest - Week of March 25, 2019

A DNR state park interpreter talks with visitors at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the U.P.

The DNR employs interpreters, conservation officers, biologists, park rangers and other interesting positions.

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.

ORV fans, get ready to ride!

riders in ORV

Off-road engines are being revved up across the state as Michigan’s transition to spring ORV riding is near. New-year licenses and permits went on sale March 1. The 2018 permits expire in just a few days, March 31.

An ORV license costs $26.25 and is required to ride eligible county roads, state forest roads open to ORV use and eligible national forest roads. A license is not needed to operate on private lands; however, an ORV trail permit is required to ride on state-designated ORV trails/routes and special ORV-use areas.

An ORV trail permit costs an additional $10 and is required when operating on designated ORV trails/routes and special ORV-use areas. A trail permit is not needed for private lands.

Jessica Holley, a statewide analyst for the DNR’s Motorized Trails Program, said that as the spring thaw and warmer temps arrive, responsible trail stewardship is very important, especially in wet conditions.

“If a trail is too wet or too muddy, riders should find another spot to ride or wait a day,” Holley said. “If everyone works together to make smart choices that protect our trails, they’ll be there longer and be safer for all off-road vehicle riders.”

ORV licenses and trail permits can be purchased online at MDNR-eLicense.com. Looking ahead, off-roaders are encouraged to enjoy two upcoming Free ORV Weekends – June 8-9 and Aug. 17-18 – when residents and out-of-state visitors can ride nearly 3,700 miles of DNR-designated routes and trails without an ORV license or permit.

Questions? Learn about Michigan’s ORV license and permit requirements on the DNR website, or contact Jessica Holley, 989-426-9205.

Taking action now can reduce bear problems later

black bear

As longer daylight hours and warming temperatures start wildlife moving, the DNR reminds Michigan residents that now is the time to look at their property for items that could attract bears.

Bears find bird seed and suet – high-calorie and reliable, compared to other plentiful and natural food sources – especially attractive. Bird feeders can draw bears beyond their natural habitat, where they normally would be enjoying the roots of early spring plants and insects in trees and logs. Taking feeders down now, before bears can find them, can prevent future problems. 

“While it is legal to feed the birds, you may be creating an irreversible safety issue by providing food for bears,” said Ashely Autenrieth, acting bear specialist with the DNR. “Bears that receive a food reward when around homes, yards and neighborhoods typically lose their natural fear of humans and can become a potential threat to people and their pets.” 

Autenrieth said residents can help their communities by removing bird feeders and other attractants, and offered some tips:

  • Remove potential food sources, like bird feeders, from your yard. Avoid feeding birds in the spring, summer and fall, when bears are most active. 
  • Keep pet foods inside or in a secured area.
  • Keep garbage in a secured area or secured container. Keep garbage and odor at a minimum by removing trash often and cleaning containers with disinfectant.
  • Keep grills and picnic tables clean.
  • Protect apiaries (beehives), fruit trees and gardens with electric fencing.

“For your safety, never intentionally feed or try to tame bears – it is in your, and the bear’s, best interest,” Autenrieth said. “It is critical that bears retain their natural fear of humans.”

Learn more about Michigan’s black bears and how to prevent potential problems by visiting Michigan.gov/Bear or by watching “The Bear Essentials” video. For additional assistance with bear conflicts, contact your local DNR wildlife biologist

Questions? Contact Ashley Autenrieth at 989-732-3541, ext. 5044.

Need firewood? Fuelwood permits available starting April 1

man cutting wood with chainsaw in forest

Michigan residents who heat their homes with wood can obtain fuelwood permits to cut dead and downed trees on designated state forest lands beginning April 1. 

“This program allows people to cut up to five standard cords of firewood for personal use,” said Donovan Asselin, timber sales specialist for the DNR. The DNR manages 4 million acres of state forest in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Some wood also may be available in state game areas where forests are managed to create habitat.

Contact your local DNR office to determine what areas are available this year for wood collection. Quality and quantity of wood varies by location, so scout where you’d like to cut to make sure wood is available before purchasing a permit. 

Fuelwood is for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded. Wood must be dead and down within 200 feet of a road.

Fuelwood permits cost $20 and are good for 90 days after they are issued. For more information about the DNR’s fuelwood permits, visit Michigan.gov/Fuelwood or contact Donovan Asselin at 517-284-5843.  

Adopt-A-Nest: Osprey monitors needed

osprey diving towards water

Osprey – magnificent fish-hunting raptors with striking brown and white plumage – can be seen along Michigan’s shallow, fish-filled waters.

Severely affected by the pesticide DDT, these large birds were listed as a threatened species in Michigan after a precipitous population decline in the 1960s. 

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of MI Birds partners, including the DNR, Detroit Zoological Society and Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the osprey was successfully reintroduced to southern Michigan and removed from the threatened species list in 2009.

It is incredibly important that osprey continue to be monitored closely statewide. Michigan Osprey has monitored nests in several areas of southeastern Michigan, and the DNR and Detroit Zoo are hoping to expand this monitoring effort throughout the Lower Peninsula with the Adopt-A-Nest osprey monitoring program. 

“Volunteer community scientists, like you, can adopt a nest for the summer,” DNR wildlife biologist Julie Oakes said. “All ages and experience levels are welcome.”

Oakes said that a minimum commitment of three 30-minute nest visits between the end of March and early July is all it takes to determine 1) if there is a nesting attempt, 2) if birds are actively nesting, and 3) if there are any chicks in the nest. Binoculars are adequate for most observations, and many nests are easily viewed from public roads. Training sessions will be offered.

Those interested in adopting an osprey nest can sign up online for the Adopt-A-Nest program.  

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program created by Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR.

For more information, contact Erin Rowan, MI Birds program associate, at 313-820-0809.

ICYMI: New boating and fishing laws took effect March 21

man hosing off boat at boat cleaning station

With new laws that took effect March 21, watercraft users in Michigan are required to take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Also, anyone fishing with live or cut bait or practicing catch-and-release fishing will need to take precautions to limit the movement of invasive species and fish diseases.

Here are some simple rules of thumb to help boaters and anglers navigate these laws:

  • CLEAN boats, trailers and equipment.
  • DRAIN live wells, bilges and all water – pull the plug!
  • DRY boats and equipment.
  • DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash.

The DNR also reminds anglers, when practicing catch-and-release fishing, to return the fish to the water where it was caught.

For more information on the new boating and fishing laws, visit the Laws section at Michigan.gov/Invasives or read the full, original news release.


Looking for your next fishing hot spot? Before you hit the water, sign up to receive our weekly fishing report to get a handle on fishing conditions around the state.


If you love Michigan's great outdoors and would like year-round vehicle access to Michigan's 103 state parks, make sure to get your Recreation Passport!


As the weather warms up and you're spending more time outdoors, make sure to let us know about any unusual wildlife and fish sightings using our Eyes in the Field app.

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