DNR News: CWD testing, urban forestry grants, #OptOutside and more

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News Digest - Week of Nov. 25, 2019

little kids, hot cocoa and enjoying the outdoors

Hot chocolate, warm gear and good friends – one of the best ways to enjoy Michigan's great outdoors!

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 in this news digest are available in this folder.

For optimal CWD surveillance, DNR seeks testing in key areas

side body, full face view of a white-tailed deer, some snow on the trees

As hunters enjoy the final days of this year’s firearm deer season and prepare for the archery season restart Dec. 1, it’s important to keep CWD testing in mind – especially in areas of the state where chronic wasting disease has been confirmed. This fatal, neurological disease affects deer, elk and moose. Since the first case was confirmed four years ago in a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Ingham County, CWD now has been found in eight additional counties: Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, Gratiot and Montcalm.

Each year, CWD surveillance goals are created to help biologists understand the extent of the disease in the local deer herd. Hunters can help by bringing their deer to check stations so deer heads can be tested. Though surveillance goals already have been met in most counties, deer heads from Gratiot, Isabella and Jackson counties, as well as from the Upper Peninsula CWD core surveillance area, are still needed for testing. Anyone hunting those areas is urged to have their deer tested.

Even in areas where DNR surveillance goals have been met, the department will continue to test for CWD if hunters are interested in having their deer tested. 

Hunters can check the CWD testing results page to keep track of whether deer are needed from certain areas. For more on this deer hunting season, including regulations, deer check stations, places to hunt and more, visit Michigan.gov/Deer.

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

Nearly $100,000 in grants awarded for urban forestry projects

Detroit youth using shovels to plant trees on a city street

As more communities throughout Michigan work to boost awareness around the many benefits of trees, funding sources like the DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry program can lend valuable support. The DNR today announced approval of 15 UCF grants, totaling $99,841, for projects including:

  • The city of Petoskey will use $11,500 to help pay for a street tree inventory.
  • The Sustainable Resources Institute, Inc., in Iron County, will use $6,000 for education and workshops on urban wood utilization.
  • The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will put $2,650 toward a tree protection and survey plan.
  • The city of Wyandotte will use $500 for an Arbor Day celebration.

See the full list of approved grants, which were selected from among 22 applications. Grant awards will be made this month for projects to be completed by September 2020.

The Urban and Community Forestry program is funded with a federal grant to the DNR from the USDA Forest Service. This cooperative program makes cost-share funds available to communities and organizations on a competitive basis. Grant recipients must provide 1:1 matching funds toward completion of approved projects.

“When it comes to growing, supporting and sustaining trees and education about trees, this program is here to help,” said Kevin Sayers, UCF program coordinator. “These grant dollars make it possible for communities to develop sustainable tree management programs, build more capacity to care for their trees, promote more volunteerism and partnership, improve public awareness about the benefits of preserving and expanding tree cover, and many other actions that are good for trees’ long-term health.”

For more information about this grant program, contact Kevin Sayers at 517-284-5898 or visit Michigan.gov/UCF.

This holiday weekend, share the hunt and try a new one

back view of adult and youth hunters, wearing hunter orange, walking down a snowy trail

When people talk about Thanksgiving, the word “tradition” comes up a lot. And why not? It’s a time for connecting with family and friends, taking stock of the good things and sharing what you can with others.

Hunting is a big Michigan tradition, and the upcoming holiday offers many opportunities for seasoned hunters to both share their knowledge with novice hunters and try their hand at something new – all while enjoying time outdoors.

This time of year, deer are the most sought-after species for Michigan hunters. The firearm deer season wraps up Saturday, followed by the re-opening of archery season Sunday. Those interested in expanding the hunt beyond deer can take aim at other wildlife:

  • Cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, and fox and gray squirrels present fun winter hunting challenges now through March 31.
  • Leaning toward bird hunting? Try ruffed grouse season Dec. 1 to Jan. 1 or explore a managed waterfowl hunt area for some of the year’s remaining waterfowl hunting opportunities. (Don’t forget to enter the Wetland Wonders Challenge for your shot at a waterfowl hunting prize package!)

If you don’t currently have a hunting buddy, consider introducing someone to the sport. Mentored youth hunting licenses are available to kids 9 and younger, while apprentice hunting licenses are for those 10 and older who haven’t yet completed a hunter safety education course. Learn more about these options at Michigan.gov/MentoredHunting.

“Sharing your passion for hunting and wildlife is a great gift to give someone,” said Holly Vaughn, with the DNR Wildlife Division. “No matter what type of wild game you enjoy pursuing, this long holiday weekend is the perfect time to get outdoors with some of your favorite people.”

Get all the season, species and regulation information you need, including hunting digests, at Michigan.gov/Hunting.

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

ICYMI: Plenty of reasons to #OptOutside this Friday

Adults and small children dressed in fall jackets, walking down a tree-lined trail at Sleeper State Park

While the day after Thanksgiving, for many, has become synonymous with deep-discount shopping and getting a jump on holiday gift lists, a relatively new Black Friday tradition is growing in popularity – and it's one that could yield benefits that extend far beyond your bank account.

Launched in 2015 by Recreation Equipment, Inc. (known more commonly as REI), the #OptOutside movement is aimed at inspiring people to also choose to spend time enjoying and caring for the outdoors. In case you missed it, we recently wrote about the trend in last week's Showcasing the DNR article:

"Deciding to get outside after Thanksgiving Day is about getting some fresh air in the great outdoors, spending valuable time with family and friends and, perhaps most importantly, relaxing." Read the full story here.

For more on #OptOutside, contact DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson at 517-284-6120.


Already dreaming about summer vacation? It's really not too early to start thinking about your plans, because state park and harbor reservations can be booked up to six months in advance!


The DNR administers or partners on a variety of grant programs that support fish and wildlife habitat, healthy forests, trail and boating safety, and more. Explore grant options at Mi.gov/DNRGrants.


If you're interested in off-road vehicle use on state forest roads, don't miss your chance to review proposed changes to forest road maps for 2020. Public comment will be accepted through Dec. 1.

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