DNR News: Small game opener, free fishing weir tours, Michigan Trails Week

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News Digest - Week of Sept. 9, 2019

a ruffed grouse perched on a log, viewed through some forest branches, sunlight from the right

Hunting seasons for several species, including ruffed grouse, start this weekend.

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 are available in this folder.

Small game hunting opens Sunday statewide

A smiling young hunter, dressed in camouflage and hunter orange, holding a pheasant by the feet, black hound at his side

Hunters around Michigan are getting ready to get outdoors! Sunday, Sept. 15, marks the statewide start of hunting season for cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, fox and gray squirrel. Woodcock season, also statewide, follows less than a week later on Sept. 21.

Before hitting the forests and fields, every small game hunter needs to have a Michigan base license. A resident base license costs $11 and is valid as a small game license.

The base license allows hunters to hunt for rabbit, hare, squirrel (fox and gray), pheasant, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, woodchuck, woodcock, quail, crow, coyote (Michigan residents only) and waterfowl during the open season for each species.

Hunting for pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, woodcock or waterfowl? Remember these extras (all of which are available via e-License:

  • Pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse require a free endorsement.
  • Woodcock hunters need a free woodcock stamp.
  • Waterfowl hunters 16 and older need a federal migratory bird hunting stamp (also known as a federal duck stamp) and a Michigan waterfowl hunting license.

Hunters coming from out of state also have options for a three-day or seven-day nonresident base license. Base licenses can be purchased online or wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Before you go, get additional season dates and regulations information in the 2019 Hunting Digest or visit Michigan.gov/Hunting.

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

What's a weir? Take a free tour during fall egg take and find out

School kids watch through the hatchery window as fisheries technicians collect eggs from fish during the annual fall egg take

If you’ve ever wondered how the DNR gets the eggs it uses for fish production or wanted to see big Great Lakes fish up close and personal, think about catching a tour of one of the northern Michigan weirs.

The Boardman River Weir in downtown Traverse City, the Little Manistee River Weir in Manistee County and the Upper Platte River Weir in Benzie County will be open for free tours to the public and school groups from mid-September through the end of October.

This is the perfect time to see these weirs – structures that block fish from passing upstream – in action, because all three will be used to aid fall fish collection. The DNR will be collecting surplus chinook and coho salmon at the Boardman River Weir. Chinook salmon harvested at the Manistee River Weir support the DNR’s work to collect fertilized eggs for this key fish species. Additionally, the weir at Platte River State Fish Hatchery helps staff collect coho salmon in order to extract fertilized eggs for continued production in the hatchery system.

During the tours, students and visitors will learn about salmon biology, how weirs and fish ladders work, invasive species, state fish hatcheries and the impact of egg-collection efforts on Michigan’s fisheries. The programs tie in components of history, ecology, biology and stewardship.

Tours will begin Friday at the Boardman River Weir, Oct. 2 at the Little Manistee River Weir and Oct. 16 at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. Group tours are available by appointment. Schedule a group tour now.

To learn more about state hatcheries and weirs, visit Michigan.gov/Hatcheries. Check for updates at two of the weirs throughout the season by calling their hotlines:

  • Platte River: 231-325-4611, ext. 21
  • Little Manistee River: 231-775-9727, ext. 6072

Questions? Contact Tracy Page, 517-284-6033.

Find your trail during Michigan Trails Week, Sept. 22-29

view from behind, a woman wearing flannel and a knit hat, walking down a trail and walkway, surrounded by green forest

Whether it’s on foot or on horseback, a mountain bike or a snowmobile – or even in a canoe – Michigan has a trail for you.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared Sept. 22-29 Trails Week in Michigan, a great opportunity to hit the trails for the first time, revisit familiar favorites or try out a new trail adventure.

With more than 12,500 miles of designated trails, including more rail-trail miles than any other state, Michigan has earned its reputation as the Trails State.

“It doesn’t matter the season, it doesn’t matter where you are in the state, Michigan has your trail,” said Paul Yauk, state trails coordinator with the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “It’s unbelievable the number of trails available across the state. They’re a great resource to help people stay healthy and active, explore history or just have fun.”

Michigan also boasts the Iron Belle Trail, the longest state-designated trail in the nation. With two distinct routes – one for hiking and one for biking – the 2,050-mile Iron Belle Trail is a catalyst for communities across Michigan to connect to each other. The trail stretches from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.

Michigan Trails Week not only celebrates trails on land, but also water trails. Earlier this year, Michigan announced its first-ever designated water trails and launched the Pure Michigan Trails and Trail Towns program, which recognized six trails and four trail towns for having broad community support and a sustainable maintenance and marketing plan and providing users with a quality trail experience.

“Michigan’s vast and diverse trails system plays a big role in stimulating tourism and encouraging healthy lifestyles for all ages,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation chief. “We deeply appreciate all of our trail partners who are critical to sustaining quality trails throughout the state.”

Learn more at Michigan.gov/TrailsWeek or Michigan.gov/DNRTrails.

Questions? Contact Paul Yauk, 517-331-0111.


Ready for one of the biggest farmers markets in southeast Michigan? Head to Cambridge Junction Historic State Park this Sunday for fresh produce, baked goods, locally produced crafts and more.


Different lodging options are available at many state parks: mini-cabins, rustic cabins or lodges with all the amenities of home. Some parks also have pop-up campers, tepees and yurts for rent, too.


Did you know that hunters, anglers and non-hunters all can help needy families year-round with a deer or monetary donation to Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger

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