DNR News: 2020 sturgeon season, expert outdoor learning, campground hosting

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News Digest - Week of Dec. 23, 2019

a titmouse sits on a snow-covered branch, while snowflakes fall in the background

The tufted titmouse is just one bird species you might spot outdoors this winter!

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. This will be our last news digest of the year, starting back up with the Jan. 6, 2020, issue. The DNR wishes everyone a peaceful, safe holiday season and plenty of time to enjoy Michigan's great outdoors!

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.

2020 Black Lake sturgeon season begins Feb. 1

older man wearing holding a lake sturgeon

Eager for the chance to catch one of Michigan’s most unique fish? The wait will soon be over! The lake sturgeon season on Black Lake, in Cheboygan County, begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, so make sure your license and registration are in order. Registration is required to participate in this season.

The total 2020 season allocation on Black Lake is seven lake sturgeon. However, to reduce the risk of exceeding this limit, officials will close the season when one of two scenarios occurs:

  1. The sixth fish is harvested.
  2. Five fish have been harvested at the end of any fishing day.

Daily season fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The season will either end at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, or when one of the above scenarios is met, at which point DNR personnel on the ice will immediately notify anglers to stop fishing for lake sturgeon.

Participating anglers must register for the season, and anglers age 17 or older must have a valid Michigan fishing license. Early registration will be held at the DNR Onaway Field Station (approximately 5 miles north of Onaway on Route 211) from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Anglers can pick up the required fishing identification flags and learn more about season logistics and lake sturgeon populations.

Anglers are highly encouraged to take part in the early registration Friday, but those unable do so may register the next day at the registration trailer at Zolner Road ending on Black Lake. Morning registration begins at 7 a.m. each day of the season.

Any angler who successfully takes a lake sturgeon must contact an on-ice DNR employee and register the fish at the Zolner Road trailer registration site on Black Lake. Registration may include an examination of the fish’s internal organs and removal of a piece of fin tissue for DNA analysis and aging.

Questions? Contact Tim Cwalinski, 989-732-3541, ext. 5072.

Learn about food plots, ice fishing, wild mushrooms and more at 2020 Outdoor Skills Academy

a thin mesh bag full of morel mushrooms

Interested in attracting bluebirds to your yard? Learning the ins and outs of bear hunting in the Michigan woods? How about tying an expert tie and fly fishing like a pro? The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy 2020 class schedule currently is filled with more than a dozen opportunities to do all of this and much more, starting with the Hard Water School (ice fishing) Jan. 25-26 at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac. Additional classes will be added as details are finalized.

DNR park interpreter and academy coordinator Ed Shaw said the concept launched a few years back at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center (in Mitchell State Park) as a way to help people of all experience and skill levels learn more about hunting and fishing in Michigan. Since then, the class offerings have expanded to include everything from wildlife photography and mushroom identification to snowshoe weaving and developing deer food plots, and the class locations have spread to other locations, too. 

“Whether you're looking to get started with a new outdoor activity or want to brush up on your skills and learn some tips and tricks, the academy pro-staff can help,” Shaw said. “These affordable classes and clinics are unique because they explore topics in-depth – for a full day or more – with knowledgeable, skilled instructors leading the way."

Learn more about the academy and full class schedule at Michigan.gov/Outdoor Skills, or contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.

State park campground hosts connect with visitors, camp for free

Older man and woman wearing DNR hats and shirts, serving as Lime Island Recreation Area campground hosts, 2018

For many people who love spending time in Michigan state parks, serving as a campground host just might be the perfect gig. Right now, the DNR is accepting applications for campground hosts at many locations across the state. 

Volunteer campground hosts enjoy waived camping fees, in exchange for 30 hours of service per week, handling things like:

  • Helping people find their campsites.
  • Planning campground activities.
  • Performing light maintenance duties.

"These campground hosting spots are great opportunities for people to give back in a meaningful way to the parks that are special to them," said Michelle Coss, fund and resource development specialist with DNR Parks and Recreation. "Many of our veteran campers love this program because it gives them a chance to help shape the experience for some people who are brand new to the magic of state parks."

Anyone seeking more information about this program is encouraged to contact Michelle Coss at 517-881-5884. Learn more about all hosting opportunities (including at Hartwick Pines Memorial Building and Tawas Point Lighthouse) at Michigan.gov/DNRHosts


If your plans for 2020 include boosting your physical and mental well-being, why not find some new ways to enjoy the great outdoors? Explore the DNR events calendar to discover cool things happening around the state!


There are just over two weeks left in the DNR's winter auction of surplus land. Dozens of parcels (some up to 160 acres in size!) are available. Visit the DNR's Land for Sale webpage to learn more, and make sure to submit your bid by Jan. 8.


Next time you renew your vehicle registration, show some love for Michigan's endangered and threatened wildlife! When you buy a wildlife habitat license plate, $25 of your purchase will go to the state's Nongame Wildlife Fund.

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