DNR News: Lake sturgeon releases, tree-stand safety, outdoor educators honored

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News Digest - Week of Oct. 14, 2019

Shadow profile of someone fishing from a boat on sparkling blue water, framed by rust-colored fall leaves

Want to get out on the water? There are plenty of fall fishing opportunities statewide!

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.

Lake sturgeon releases add nearly 20,000 fish to Michigan waters

Two men, both wearing sunglasses and one holding a little girl, look at a juvenile lake sturgeon in the other man's hands

This summer and fall, the DNR and several partners released nearly 20,000 juvenile lake sturgeon in public waters, part of an ongoing effort to rehabilitate this culturally significant fish species. 

The locations, totals, dates and (partner agencies) include:

Allegan County

  • Kalamazoo River: 237 fish, Aug. 28 (DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gun Lake Tribe).

Cheboygan County

  • Lower Black River: 13,503 fish, June (DNR, Michigan State University).
  • Black Lake: 520 fish, Aug. 24 (DNR, MSU).
  • Mullett Lake: 521 fish, Aug. 24 (DNR, MSU).
  • Burt Lake/Sturgeon River: 1,000 fish (Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians).

Delta County

  • Whitefish River: 230 fish, Aug. 22 (DNR).

Genesee County

  • Flint River: 471 fish, August and September (DNR, MSU, USFWS).

Menominee County

  • Cedar River: 182 fish, Aug. 23 (DNR).

Midland County

  • Tittabawassee River: 470 fish, August and September (DNR, MSU, USFWS).

Ontonagon County

  • Ontonagon River: 1,499 fish, September and October (DNR, USFWS).

Saginaw County

  • Cass River: 469 fish, August and September (DNR, MSU, USFWS).
  • Shiawassee River: 469 fish, August and September (DNR, MSU, USFWS).

Total lake sturgeon stocked: 19,571

Lake sturgeon eggs and larvae were collected from the wild in April and May and then reared in streamside facilities until they were large enough to tag. To allow for future evaluations of stocked fish, most fish were tagged before being released into lakes and rivers.

“Many of these stocking efforts were public events that shined a spotlight on how important lake sturgeon are to Michigan,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “Our state has a long history with this species, and working with our partners helps us protect them for future generations.”

The lake sturgeon is on Michigan’s threatened species list. These annual stocking efforts – supported by several important partners who work to secure needed funding and resources – are critical to restoring the state’s lake sturgeon population.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/Sturgeon or contact Ed Baker, 906-249-1611, ext. 309 or Elyse Walter, 517-599-8532.

Hunters: When you’re up a tree, put safety first

A young man wearing camo and using a full-body harness, bow hunting from a tree stand

All hunting requires meticulous preparation and a commitment to safety, but as Michigan’s bow season enters its second full week, it’s a good time to consider extra precautions when hunting from a tree stand.

The Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation, a nonprofit focused on safety education and mindfulness, collected accident information from 12 states. Although Michigan wasn’t a participating state, the data provides a good starting point for conversation.

When it comes to tree-stand incidents, the foundation found that:

  • The average fall victim’s age was 47.
  • Lock-on and climbing stands were the most common types involved.
  • The majority of people who fell did not use a harness.
  • Most falls occurred when people hunted with traditional firearms or bows, followed by muzzleloaders and crossbows.
  • Most people fell because they slipped or lost their grip or balance.

“The DNR is in full support of the foundation’s effort to boost tree-stand safety,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, the hunter education administrator for the state of Michigan. “The more information hunters have, the safer they can be.”

Wanless shared a few tips:

  • Use your hands and feet to maintain three points of contact when ascending or descending a tree stand.
  • Use a full-body harness attached to a secure fall line positioned above your head.
  • When lifting a crossbow or firearm (unloaded, safety on) into a tree stand, use a secure pull system, such as a rope. Never attach anything to a trigger or trigger guard.

The DNR teaches tree-stand safety, safe firearm handling, first aid and other important life skills as part of its hunter education program. Read more hunting safety tips or find a hunter safety education course near you at Michigan.gov/HuntingSafety.

Questions? Contact Lt. Tom Wanless, 517-284-6026.

Michigan leaders in environmental and outdoor education recognized

Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education logo

At the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education annual conference and awards ceremony last month in Tustin, 14 alliance members were honored for their work.

“The educators receiving awards showcase years of promoting environmental literacy in Michigan, showcasing the very mission of the alliance,” said Natalie Elkins, MAEOE awards chair.

Each year, five levels of awards are opened for competitive nominations, including the two highest honors: the Julian W. Smith Excellence in Outdoor Education Award and the William B. Stapp Excellence in Environmental Education Award. This year’s award winners include:

  • The Julian W. Smith Excellence in Outdoor Education Award went to Margaret Holtschlag, who has had an incalculable effect on more than 30,000 students and hundreds of educators over the last 17 years through the Annie’s Big Nature Lesson program that she created and implemented.
  • The William B. Stapp Excellence in Environmental Education Award went to David Chapman, who retired in July 2019 after more than 43 years of teaching high school science. Chapman, who was integral in founding MAEOE and served as its first president, annually took students on camping trips to Lake Michigan to study the dunes, wave action, astronomy, inland aquatic ecosystems and more, including going out on a research boat to sample and test water.
  • The President’s Award is given by the outgoing MAEOE president to the person deemed instrumental to the president’s success. Outgoing alliance board president Brittany Burgess chose Becky Durling, current alliance secretary and Young Fives teacher in Williamston.
  • The Recognition Award honors significant contributions to the fields of environmental and outdoor education in a specialized area such as journalism, photography, curriculum development or interpretation. This year’s recipients were Jonathan Schechter, nature education writer for the Oakland County blog, and Tom Jameson, a 30-year volunteer naturalist in the Ann Arbor area.
  • The Appreciation Award recognizes those who have made significant contributions toward creating, delivering, managing or sustaining environmental and outdoor education programs. This year’s awardees were Shawn Grose, an eco-action chairperson at Hoover Elementary in Livonia; Catherine Harris, education specialist at the Belle Isle Aquarium; and Mike Latus, retired teacher and summer naturalist at Warren Dunes State Park.
  • Volunteer Service Awards honor those who give their time and skills for more than one year to a school, college, camp, outdoor center, zoo, nature center or other venue that promotes environmental or outdoor education. This year’s recipients were the team of Doris Applebaum and Sue Greenlee, Paul Cencer, Don Sasse, Wayne Gleiber and George Granderson.

During the awards ceremony, four new candidates – Bridget Booth, Arleatha Bryant, Chelsea O’Brien and Tammy Wylie – were certified through the nationally accredited Environmental Educator Certification program, an arduous, five-strand process. 

Questions? Contact Natalie Elkins, 517-290-0687.


If you're looking for a fun, interesting way to spend some outdoors and learn a lot along the way, check out our Outdoor Skills Academy, with classes on making snowshoes and trapping, and more being added in coming months.


Did you know that hunting license fees are waived for full-time, active-duty U.S. military personnel who have maintained resident status (excluding licenses obtained through a drawing, like bear or elk)?


Want to lend your voice and good ideas to our state park management planning? Plans for several parks are underway right now, including public surveys for Leelanau and Traverse City state parks.  

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