DNR News: Happy Little 5K news, veterans waterfowl draws, hiring COs and more

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News Digest - Week of Nov. 4, 2019

part of a painting of the red house in Leelanau State Park, created by artist Carmen Dykema for the DNR's Paint the Parks program

"Red House in Leelanau State Park" - artwork from "Paint the Parks," celebrating our state parks centennial.

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 others, are available in this folder.

Michigan Natural Resources Commission to meet Thursday in Lansing area

A senior male hunter safety education instructor wearing an orange DNR cap instructs a young boy on proper, safe shooting techniques

Hunting opportunities at Yankee Springs State Recreation Area, a discussion on visitor and use trends at state parks, an order to regulate target shooting at Lapeer State Game Area and presentation of the department's hunter safety education 40-year teaching awards are just some of the agenda items for the next meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission Thursday, Nov. 7, at the west campus of Lansing Community College, 5708 Cornerstone Drive, in Delta Township. All sessions will take place in conference rooms M119-121.

Scheduled committee meetings include:

  • 9 a.m., Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee.
  • 11 a.m., Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries.
  • 1 p.m., Committee of the Whole. 

See the meeting's full draft agenda at Michigan.gov/NRC. For more information or to request time to speak at the meeting, contact Cheryl Nelson at 517-284-6237.

Apply now for July 2020 conservation officer academy

thumbnail image from CO academy recruiting video, showing officers taking oath - play button

Patrol trucks, boats, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and more – if you enjoy being outdoors and would like to make a career of it, consider becoming a Michigan conservation officer. The DNR is accepting applications right now for its next conservation officer academy, which begins July 12, 2020, in Lansing.

“There’s really no better law enforcement job in the state of Michigan,” said Conservation Officer Shannon Kritz, who patrols Eaton County. “I love hunting and fishing. Whether I’m teaching a hunter safety class, patrolling the county or responding to an emergency situation, every day I feel like I am really making a difference by protecting natural resources and the people that utilize them.”

The DNR is seeking motivated people who are willing to learn. The 23-week conservation officer academy will teach recruits about the fish, animals and natural resources that conservation officers protect and how to safely operate the many vehicles used every day.

Visit Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers to locate a recruiter, review eligibility requirements, see training videos and interviews with past recruits, and learn more about the hiring process.

Questions? Contact Lt. Jason Wicklund at 517-284-5996.

Experience beauty of state parks through ‘Paint the Parks’ gallery, exhibit

a painting of a forest scene from Island Lake Recreation Area, dominated by blues and greens and depicting shadows from the trees

This state parks centennial year has set the stage for residents and other outdoor enthusiasts to look back at 100 years of history and highlight many of these outdoor destinations through several lenses: historical anecdotes, campfire storytelling, an interactive memory map, bird's-eye-view videos, ambient nature sounds (Pure Sounds), Happy Little Trees planting program and, now, paintbrush and canvas.

"Paint the Parks" is an artistic interpretation of Michigan’s vast state parks system – from Tahquamenon Falls to Holland to Belle Isle and more – as showcased through original artwork of the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association. The group’s “open air” style of painting is an art form created by French Impressionists that encourages the practice of painting or drawing of landscapes outside the walls of a studio.

Over the last year, several painters set up easels in state parks, capturing the colors, the majesty, the nature and the history of these beautiful outdoor spaces. The "Paint the Parks” exhibit includes nearly 70 paintings, and people can experience it in two ways:

  • In an online gallery, highlighting different regions of the state, including the Upper, northern Lower, central Lower and southern Lower peninsulas.
  • Up close and in person at an exhibit at the Michigan History Center, 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in downtown Lansing, now through Nov. 22.
a painting of Tahquamenon Falls, depicting dark water, light foamy falls, and green brush and pine trees in the background

“Painting nature has long been a mainstay of artists,” said Maia Turek, DNR parks and recreation engagement development specialist. “Our department partnered with the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association to highlight the spirit and allure of these special places in a whole new way.”

All original artwork is for sale though the online gallery, with 25% of proceeds going to support historic interpretation in state parks.

Learn more about "Paint the Parks" and the Michigan state parks centennial at Michigan.gov/StateParks100.

Questions? Contact Maia Turek at 989-225-8573.

Veterans invited to take part in preference waterfowl hunt draws Nov. 10-12

black Labrador retriever with a white duck in his mouth, swimming through blue water, mallard ducks in background

Fall is one of the best times of the year to enjoy Michigan’s natural areas, and the state’s many hunting seasons offer even more reasons to get outside. Veterans or active-duty military personnel looking for some amazing hunting experiences at DNR-managed waterfowl areas are invited to take part in this month’s veterans preference hunt drawings.

The drawings will take place Nov. 10, 11 and 12 for properly licensed resident, active-duty U.S. military personnel and veterans. For entry requirements, check out the rules in the 2019 waterfowl digest.

To be eligible for the drawings, individual hunters must be active-duty military personnel or veterans; group hunters must have at least one member in their party who is active-duty military or a veteran. All hunters also must possess a waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp.

Veterans preference hunt drawings will take place at:

  • Fennville Farm – Nov. 10 (p.m. hunt).
  • Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge – Nov. 10 (a.m. hunt).
  • Pointe Mouillee – Nov. 10 (a.m. and p.m. hunts).
  • Fish Point – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts).
  • Harsens Island – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts).
  • Nayanquing Point – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts).
  • Shiawassee River – Nov. 11 (a.m. and p.m. hunts).
  • Muskegon County Wastewater – Nov. 12 (a.m. and p.m. hunts).

For season dates, bag limits and regulations, visit Michigan.gov/Waterfowl. Managed waterfowl hunt area maps are available at Michigan.gov/WetlandWonders.

Questions? Contact Holly Vaughn at 313-396-3863.

‘Happy Little 5K’ news creates big excitement; DNR lifts registration cap

Run for the Trees T-shirt, race bib and medal, all featuring Bob Ross' likeness

Many Michiganders clearly have a soft spot for state parks, Bob Ross and running in the great outdoors! Recently, the DNR took to social media to announce the first Happy Little 5K / Run for the Trees virtual race, and the response was amazing. In less than a week, nearly 20,000 people signed up to receive registration updates.

Participants will walk, run or hike their 5K, as long as it’s completed in the outdoors (and your mailing address is located somewhere in the continental U.S.) sometime between April 17-26. That’s 10 days including two full weekends and, for good measure, Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 24).

The race is the latest offering from the Happy Little Trees program. Through a partnership with Bob Ross Inc. and funding from the U.S. Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and a donation that stems from Chateau Grand Traverse's "CGT Wines of the Great Outdoors" series, the program helps state parks replant trees lost to invasive forest pests and diseases, including emerald ash borer and oak wilt.

Inspired by this year’s Michigan state parks centennial, the DNR partnered with Bob Ross Inc. to rename and help build awareness around the state’s tree-planting program and new opportunities for people to help. Volunteers received Happy Little Planting T-shirts featuring Bob Ross, the iconic painter and nature fan who connected with millions of people through his “Joy of Painting” public television show.

Smiling volunteers holding shovels and surrounding a Happy Little Trees Ahead sign, bearing the likeness of Bob Ross

The partnership also included options to support the program through donations and the purchase of T-shirts via the These Goods are Good for Michigan platform.

Happy Little 5K registration opens Jan. 1. Each participant will get a Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and a finisher's medal. All race proceeds support tree-planting efforts at Michigan state parks.

The virtual race originally had a cap of 1,000 participants. Now, with elevated public interest, the DNR has lifted the cap and will establish a new cap closer to registration opening. Anyone interested can sign up for preregistration notification and other updates.

"We're so excited about the outpouring of interest for support of the Happy Little Trees planting program,” said Michelle Coss, DNR parks and recreation fund development coordinator. “We are working to make this event available to as many people as possible."

Questions? Learn more about the Happy Little Trees program online or contact Michelle Coss at 517-881-5884.


Don't miss the chance to weave your own wood-framed snowshoes! Learn the step-by-step process at workshops (Dec. 7 or Dec. 14) at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.


It's not too early to start thinking about the holidays, and state park and harbor gift and e-cards could be the perfect gift for your favorite camper, boater or outdoor enthusiast.


Based on road assessments, data cleanup and public input received through August, proposed changes on state forest roads are now open for public comment until Dec. 1.

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