DNR News: Sea lamprey treatment, Labor Day safety, 2020 fishing guide info

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News Digest - Week of Aug. 26, 2019

close-up view of several stocks with marshmallows roasting over a fire

Whether in the woods or on the water this holiday weekend, keep safety in mind. 

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  some of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Got Labor Day weekend plans? Please put safety first

Kayakers wearing life jackets paddling down the Muskegon River

Since its creation in the late 19th century as a celebration of American workers and their achievements, Labor Day has marked the traditional end to summer. The holiday gives workers some valuable time off, an opportunity to head out to their favorite campsite, lake or beach for one last hurrah. No matter the time of year, it’s important to keep safety in mind when you’re enjoying the outdoors.

  • Camping is one of the most popular summer activities, and with so many state parks to choose from, Michigan is a premier destination. Campers should be sure to leave their campsite better than they found it, and that includes using safe campfire practices. Remember, nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people.
  • As citizens of the Great Lakes State, Michiganders are never far from water. If you’re planning on boating over the holiday weekend, review these important boating safety tips. Drowning is the cause of death in 76% of all boating-related fatalities, so wear a life jacket, boat sober and stay alert while you’re on the water.
  • Be mindful of high water levels on the Great Lakes and other waterways, too. They can turn a day of family fun into an emergency situation. Before you head out, brush up on beach safety. Pay close attention to the color flag warning system at designated state park swim areas. Just like traffic lights, green means go, yellow means caution and red means STOP. Do not enter the water or swim if a red flag is posted – stay on the beach and safely enjoy the last days of summer.

Whatever your Labor Day holiday plans, be mindful of your surroundings and have an emergency plan in place. Get more information about safe recreation at Michigan.gov/DNREducation in the Safety Information section.

Removing sturgeon from Big Manistee, Muskegon rivers before sea lamprey treatment

a juvenile lake sturgeon held in someone's open palm

Every few years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service treats rivers across Michigan with a chemical aimed at killing the invasive sea lamprey. Two of those rivers – the Big Manistee and the Muskegon – are home to lake sturgeon as well as sea lamprey. While many aquatic species aren’t affected by the treatments, lake sturgeon, especially in these locations, are. In fact, the water chemistry there means lake sturgeon exposed to the chemical have a higher chance of dying.

This month and next, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is heading up an effort to protect juvenile lake sturgeon from these sea lamprey treatments. The DNR, the Fish and Wildlife Service and Gun Lake Tribe are on board, too.

“Lake sturgeon are an important species in the Great Lakes ecosystem, and it’s critical to protect and restore these populations because of their historical and cultural significance,” said Emily Martin, a fisheries biologist with the DNR’s Tribal Coordination Unit. “Collaboration like this makes us more effective in protecting a species that’s important to a variety of people and many agencies.”

Crews from participating agencies are capturing juvenile lake sturgeon at night, targeting them from boats while scanning the Big Manistee and Muskegon river bottoms with spotlights. Fish are collected with dip nets and transported to the Little River Band’s sturgeon-rearing facility located on the banks of the Manistee River and Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute on Muskegon Lake.

During the last sea lamprey treatment on the Big Manistee River in 2016, 117 lake sturgeon were collected and placed in the rearing facility. Following the completed chemical treatment, the fish were safely released back at the point of capture. Meanwhile, before the 2017 treatment on the Muskegon, crews collected and later released 28 lake sturgeon.

"This collaborative effort is a great way to supplement the restoration efforts of lake sturgeon populations on the Manistee and Muskegon rivers,” said Corey Jerome, a fisheries biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. “The collection efforts help protect an age class of sturgeon that experiences high natural mortality early on in their life stages."

Questions? Contact Emily Martin, 231-547-2914, ext. 241 or Corey Jerome, cjerome@lrboi-nsn.gov.

Reach more than a million anglers with 2020 fishing guide

two men fly-fishing in a river

Everyone who buys a Michigan fishing license gets connected to the state’s annual fishing guide, either the electronic or hard-copy format. With more than a million people a year purchasing licenses, that’s a lot of people perusing the pages.

Beyond fishing licenses, anglers often make decisions on gear, gas, restaurants, lodging, local entertainment and other things connected to a fishing outing – ultimately adding more than $2.3 billion a year to the state's economy. Sharing a message in the 2020 fishing guide is a great way to get their attention.

A given year’s guide is in effect from April 1 of that year through March 31 of the next year and features all the rules and regulations anglers need to know when fishing Michigan waters.

The 2020 Michigan Fishing Guide offers sponsorship opportunities, in the form of advertisements, for partners to put information in front of anglers. For example, the 2019 guide includes retail, county tourism, outdoor advocacy, charter fishing and association ads.

Sponsorships for next year’s guide are being accepted through Nov. 30. Learn more at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests under the Advertising Opportunities section at the bottom of the page. Revenue from any placed ads helps create more quality fishing in Michigan.

Questions? Contact Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

Plenty to do outdoors over long holiday weekend

Woman and man sitting together around a campfire, woods in the background

Though many residents will take to the woods and camp this weekend, there are plenty of day-trip ideas to consider, too:

  • Head to one of Michigan's 103 state parks for swimming, picnicking, disc golfing and walking, or simply letting the kids run free on the playground.
  • Explore hundreds of miles of state trails, perfect for hiking, off-road riding, bicycling and horseback riding. Mountain bikers also can wind and weave through forested areas along designated trails. 
  • Grab a rod and reel and head to the water (maybe to one of the many state parks located near Great Lakes shoreline, inland lakes, or rivers and streams) for an adventure and maybe some great fish tales! Learn about licensing, gear, locations and more at Michigan.gov/Fishing.
  • Five floating playgrounds located in state parks and open through the holiday weekend are suitable for kids and adults, offering inflatable slides, runways, jumping pillows, bouncers, climbing walls and more. Find ticket information and rules at Michigan.gov/DNRWaterParks.

“When I tell people that in Michigan you’re never more than a half-hour away from a state park, state forest campground, state trail or waterway, I have that moment when it still makes an impression on me and I’m super proud to live and work in this great state,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief.

Still interested in closing out the long weekend with a camping trip? Occupancy at state park campgrounds stood at 92% late last week, meaning there are a handful of camping spots left statewide. Find reservations for a diverse range of modern, semi-modern and rustic camping sites at MIDNRReservations.com. Rustic campsites in state forest campgrounds also are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Reminder: Mackinac Bridge will be closed Labor Day morning

view of the Mackinac Bridge in the Straits of Mackinac

If your holiday travel plans include crossing the Mackinac Bridge, remember that the Mackinac Bridge Authority will close the bridge Monday, Sept. 2, from 6:30 a.m. to noon for annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. The closure, started two years ago after recommendations from Michigan State Police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is for the safety and security of walk participants.

Make the most of your extra time on either side of the bridge and explore a new (or favorite) destination. Consider a visit to one of the great nearby downtowns, Fayette Historic and Palms Book (home of Kitch-iti-kipi) state parks in the Upper Peninsula or Wilderness State Park and Ocqueoc Falls in the Lower Peninsula – just to name a few. 

For more information about state parks, campgrounds and outdoor recreation opportunities, contact Ami Van Antwerp, 517-927-5059.


Do you have what it takes to be a ladder golf champion? Campers at the Pinckney Recreation Area are invited to take part in this weekend's Ladder Golf Challenge.


If you're heading out on the water, be sure your boat or personal watercraft is properly registered. All watercraft, unless exempt, must display a registration decal.


Michigan is home to some of the nation's most beautiful forests. Join the Adopt-a-Forest program to help protect and maintain these forests for everyone's enjoyment.  

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