DNR News: Free ORV Weekend, state park memories, bear patch design contest winner announced

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News Digest - Week of  Aug. 12, 2019

ORV Trail Recreation

Explore Michigan's 3,700 miles off-road trails during Free ORV Weekend Aug. 17-18.

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Michigan 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.

Experience memories of state parks through storytelling

June 22 storytelling event 300px

As part of the Michigan state parks centennial, the DNR has found a way to interweave the engaging art form of storytelling with state park memories. The outcome is the Campfire Storytelling Project, which captures the special memories made in state parks over the last 100 years.

The events are appropriately held around a campfire, where seasoned storytellers continue this time-honored tradition and attendees are invited to share their own park tales.

“These events are more than just spoken stories; they symbolize what is at the heart of state parks, which is our visitors,” said Maia Turek, resource development specialist with the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

As part of the yearlong celebration, the DNR is distilling a handful of these stories into recordings. The most recent recording features storytellers at Interlochen State Park, with photos collected through the State Parks Memory Map. On the interactive map, you can see snapshots of great times spent at state parks all over Michigan and read the special stories submitted by visitors and staff – all at the same time.

To date, the DNR has hosted campfire storytelling events in Lansing (in conjunction with Lansing Storytellers Project) and at Interlochen and Van Riper state parks. Upcoming events are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17 at Algonac State Park in Marine City and Saturday, Sept. 21 at Yankee Springs Recreation Area in Middleville. These events are free to the public; a Recreation Passport is required for entry.

Learn more about the centennial Campfire Storytelling Project, the memory map, Michigan state parks’ rich history, upcoming events, a special geocache tour and much more at Michigan.gov/StateParks100.

Questions? Contact Maia Turek, 989-225-8573 or TurekM@Michigan.gov.

Michigan offers Free ORV Weekend Aug. 17-18

Fall ORV trail riding

Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors looking for an off-road adventure can explore the state’s 3,700 miles of off-road trails and five scramble areas during Free ORV Weekend Aug. 17-18.

“This is the perfect opportunity to see and experience Michigan’s off-road trails,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

All ORV rules and laws still apply, but riders on designated routes and trails do not need an ORV license or trail permit during these two days. Riders will also have access to the state’s five scramble areas:

  • St. Helen’s Motorsport Area.
  • Black Lake Scramble Area.
  • Silver Lake State Park.
  • Bull Gap.
  • The Mounds.

Recreation Passport still is required where applicable, such as the scramble areas.

After a weekend of exploring Michigan's vast system of trails, consider purchasing an ORV license or trail permit for return visits. License purchases help the DNR maintain and improve the ORV system. You can purchase an ORV license or trail permit, view permit requirements, check trail closures and more on the ORV webpage.

This is the last Free ORV Weekend this year, so pick your route, gear up and get riding!

Questions? Contact Doug Donnelly, 517-284-6109 or DonnellyD@Michigan.gov.

11th grader wins 2019 bear cooperator patch contest

Bear Patch Winning Design 300px

At the Aug. 8 Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing, the Michigan Bear Hunters Association announced 11th grader Annie J. Laurenz of Wheeler Township as the 2019 bear cooperator patch design contest winner.

Each year, MBHA coordinates the Michigan bear cooperator patch program and conducts a patch design contest for K-12 students.

“An important thing that we’ve been able to do with the Bear Patch Program is to give people a perspective of the importance of what the bear hunter can do for the resource,” said Michael Pedigo, vice president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association. “Keeping kids involved is a very important aspect of this program as well.”

K-12 students from public, private and home schools around the state are eligible to submit their design. Contest entries for the 2020 bear management cooperator patch design are due by Dec. 1.

First-, second- and third-place winners are invited to the annual MBHA convention and receive $100, $50 and $25 awards, respectively.  

Proceeds from the sale of bear cooperator patches provide resources about black bears for students throughout the state as well as other informational and educational materials.

Anyone with an interest can purchase bear cooperator patches. Patches are $5, including postage and handling. Hunters 10-17 years old with a valid bear hunting license may receive a free patch.

Visit the Michigan Bear Hunters Association website to order a bear patch and for contest information. 

Questions? Call the DNR Wildlife Division, 517-284-9453.

ICYMI: Detroit-area teens attend Youth Conservation Academy


It’s not every day that teens get to participate in hands-on activities like wildlife identification, fishing, archery, biking, canoeing and hunter education. But more than 20 teens from the greater Detroit area got that chance during the fifth annual Youth Conservation Academy in Detroit.

The academy, which took place during the last week of July, taught students about career opportunities in the natural resources field and within the DNR. Students were even able to earn their hunter education safety certificate, which gives them the opportunity to hunt for a lifetime.

The Youth Conservation Academy is an important opportunity for the next generation to learn the importance – and fun – of conservation. You can read the full story here.


Sign up for the Hunting Whitetails Naturally clinic Aug. 18, Aug. 24 or Aug. 25 to learn about trail-hunting deer and managing property for wildlife habitat. 


The Labor Day holiday weekend is right around the corner. Want to see which state park campgrounds and harbors still have space? Check the online reservation system today.


The recently reintroduced Recovering America's Wildlife Act would mean once-in-a-generation support for Michigan's wildlife and habitat. Learn more about this important legislation.

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