DNR News: Fishing FACTS, tree-planting grants, Wetland Wonders Challenge

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News Digest - Week of April 29, 2019

kayaker wearing a baseball cap, front view, paddling on the Muskegon River

Kayaking is just one way to explore and enjoy Wetland Wonders locations around Michigan!

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.

Birders, photographers, paddlers: Explore Wetland Wonders and win

Wetland Wonders Challenge sign

May is American Wetlands Month, and what better way to mark the occasion than to get out and explore one of Michigan’s Wetland Wonders? During the DNR's new Wetland Wonders Challenge (May 1 through July 14), visitors are invited to visit just one of the Wetland Wonders sites, snap a photo by the official challenge sign (pictured at right) and then submit it for a chance to win one of four Cabela's gift cards ranging from $250 to $1,000.

Scattered across the state, from Portage Marsh State Wildlife Management Area in the Upper Peninsula, to Pointe Mouillee State Game Area just 25 miles from the Ohio border, these areas provide great year-round recreation opportunities like birding, boating, fishing, hiking and hunting, not to mention capturing great photos. 

Michigan's Wetland Wonders are areas managed to provide high-quality wetlands for waterfowl and waterbirds, while offering great outdoor recreation opportunities. These areas are funded by hunting license fees, but they are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.

The contest is sponsored by Consumers Energy with contest partners MI Birds and Michigan United Conservation Clubs. Get full contest entry details and Wetland Wonders location information at Michigan.gov/WetlandWonders.

Questions? Contact Holly Vaughn, 313-396-6863.

New technology helps DNR collect FACTS from key fishing industries

Several fishing poles anchored off the back of a moving boat at sunset

For many years, the DNR collected paper reports from the commercial fishing industry, wholesale fish dealers and charter boat operators.

A new platform, the Fishing Activity & Catch Tracking System, has helped the DNR streamline those reporting processes. FACTS, which replaces several outdated reporting systems the DNR previously used, features many improvements, including mobile technology.

Wholesale fish dealers now are able to enter their fish purchases in real time, submit up-to-date reports to the DNR and run their own reports about their business activities.

Commercial fishing operators can log in to report their fishing activities in real time and can run reports on their fishing activities over time.

Charter boat captains can submit monthly reports and view their fishing history through the new system. Captains can conduct all their business from a smartphone, allowing them to report before they even get back to dock.

“A version of FACTS has been used successfully by the Multispecies Groundfish Fisheries in Canada and the Northeast U.S., as well as the state of Maryland in their fisheries industry for many years,” said Tracy Claramunt, a DNR fisheries biologist who oversaw the adoption of FACTS. “Their successes helped pave the way for us to be able to bring this technology to Michigan.”

The DNR is collecting customer feedback to continuously improve the user experience. For more information on FACTS, or Michigan’s commercial, wholesale or charter fishing industries, visit Michigan.gov/FishBusiness.

Questions? Contact Tracy Claramunt, 517-282-2887 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

$70,000 in community tree-planting grants available; apply by June 7

Wheelbarrows, shovels and other tree-planting equipment spread out over a greenspace DTE work area site

Up to $70,000 (in matching grants up to $3,000 each) is available this year to support tree planting on public property. It’s all part of the ongoing partnership between the DTE Energy Foundation, which supplies the funding, and the DNR and ReLeaf Michigan, which together administer the program, to promote and properly plant trees on public property.

“Since our partnership began 23 years ago, more than 46,000 trees and seedlings have been planted in Michigan communities,” said Lynette Dowler, DTE Energy Foundation president. “This work helps our environment, beautifies local communities and supports the foundation’s mission to make Michigan an even better place to live, work and play.”

Eligible applicants include local units of government, nonprofit organizations, tribes and schools located within the DTE Energy service territory. Tree-planting projects must occur on public property like parks, road rights-of-way and school grounds and promote the “right tree, right place” message about utility awareness. All grants require a 1-to-1 match, which can be made up of cash contributions or in-kind services, including volunteer labor.

Grant applications must be postmarked by June 7 and mailed to P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909. Award announcements are anticipated in August; projects must be completed by May 31, 2020. Download a grant application or get more information at the DNR’s Urban Community Forestry webpage, Michigan.gov/UCF.

Questions? Contact Kevin Sayers (DNR), 517-284-5898, Colleen Rosso (DTE), 313-235-5555 or Melinda Jones (ReLeaf Michigan), 800-642-7353.


The DNR is committed to making outdoor recreation available to people of all abilities. Check out our accessible recreation webpage for info on campgrounds, parks, hunting, fishing, boating and more.


Elk and bear hunters, the application period for the coming season's license drawings opens May 1 and runs through June 1, with results posted online June 24. Don't miss your shot to get in on this year's hunt.


If you love the greenery at state parks, consider volunteering or donating to support the new Happy Little Trees  program that this year will bring 1,000+ new trees to more than 20 parks!

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