DNR News: Rustic camping, new 'Wardens' episodes, new DNR license sales system

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News Digest - Week of Feb. 3, 2020

sunlight filtering through barren trees in a snowy forest

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 others, are available in this folder.

New episodes of Outdoor Channel's 'Wardens' start today

A female conservation officer writes up a report on a dumping site, part of the Adopt a Forest program

The DNR continues its partnership with the Outdoor Channel on production of the 2020 season of the channel’s television series "Wardens."

New episodes start today and air on the Outdoor Channel every Monday at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 2:30 a.m., with repeats Saturday and Sunday. Focusing on ice fishing, bear hunting, opening day of firearm deer hunting season and more, the episodes will showcase law enforcement activities, as well as the science behind successfully managing Michigan’s natural resources.

New this year, “Wardens” will be available on Negaunee-based station WLUC Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

“WLUC is excited to bring ‘Wardens’ on as part of our programming in 2020. This content fits well with the weekend block we are going to build in 2020, and it will also appeal to a large demographic of outdoor enthusiasts,” said WLUC General Manager Rick Rhoades. “WLUC is committed to exploring and bringing compelling programming to our viewers in Upper Michigan. Overall, ‘Wardens’ is a perfect fit and exceeds our programming expectations. We think the U.P. is going to enjoy Wardens!”

Michigan-based Wolf Creek Productions is filming episodes at locations around the state with conservation officers and staff members from other DNR divisions who will be featured throughout the season.

"At Wolf Creek Productions, we're thrilled that WLUC has chosen to air ‘Wardens’ to its viewers in the Marquette area. They're the first local market in Michigan to air the series and we think their viewers will benefit tremendously from the stories and information that's presented in ‘Wardens’ episodes,” said Evan Pittman, “Wardens” senior producer. “We hope that WLUC is the first of many regional markets to air this series."

See a preview of the first “Wardens” episode of the season.

"Wardens," on the air since 2011, chronicles the lives of conservation officers in America. Learn more about the show at OutdoorChannel.com/Wardens.

Questions? Contact Dave Haupt in the DNR’s Gladwin Field Office at 989-426-9205, ext. 2267614.

Rustic campground to open at Ionia State Recreation Area

The view from a wooded, rustic campsite at Ionia State Recreation Area's Beechwood Campground

Starting this spring, visitors to Ionia State Recreation Area will have access to hike-in camping options at the popular, mid-Michigan outdoor recreation destination. The new rustic campground, opening May 15, was designed to provide the space and setting for people interested in a camping experience that puts them even closer to nature.

The campground will have 16 rustic campsites that require an easy, quarter-mile hike from the parking lot, including 10 sites set in the woods, five sites set along Sessions Lake and one site that backs up to a creek. Each of the rustic campsites includes a fire pit and picnic table and proximity to outhouses located along the access trail.

People can book these sites through the DNR reservation system, MiDNRReservations.com, starting Tuesday, Feb. 18. Campers aiming for more spontaneity can reserve available sites in person, on a first-come, first-served basis the day of arrival.

"These new rustic camping options will expand choices for overnight accommodations here at Ionia," said Trevor McGinn, park supervisor. "We wanted to create a different experience for visitors on some prime real estate, and we're confident that the lakefront spots will be very popular."

The 4,418-acre park is located approximately 35 miles from both Lansing and Grand Rapids. The park provides a wide range of recreation activities, including camping, disc golfing, fishing, hiking, biking, hunting and equestrian trail riding. The park is home to a designated hunting dog field trial area, a campground, modern and mini cabins, a swimming beach and park store on Sessions Lake, Tibbets Creek, the Grand River and natural environments that are home to rare plants and animals. Learn more at Michigan.gov/Ionia.

For more information on Ionia's new rustic campsites, contact Trevor McGinn, at 616-527-3750. To learn more about all DNR camping options (including rules, rates, policies and special programs), visit Michigan.gov/Camping.

ICYMI: New license sales system to launch Feb. 18

New DNR license sales system webpage screen shot

The DNR’s new system for selling hunting and fishing licenses, hunting applications, and ORV and snowmobile permits online and at retail agent locations statewide will go live at noon Feb. 18. To complete the system changeover, though, the license sales system will be unavailable Saturday, Feb. 15, through noon Tuesday, Feb. 18. DNR licenses, permits and applications will not be sold in stores or online during that time.

  • To avoid any interruption to outdoor activities that weekend, customers are encouraged to buy licenses or permits before Feb. 15.
  • Anglers will not need a license to fish Feb. 15-17. The annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend runs Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15-16. Due to the license sales system changeover, the DNR is allowing people to fish without a license on Monday, Feb. 17, too.
  • Snowmobilers and off-road vehicle riders can find a list select dealers selling preprinted ORV licenses and ORV and snowmobile trail permits while the system is down at Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.

In case you missed it, last week we shared a news release with more details about the transition to the new license sales system.


If your little ones (ages 3 to 6) have cabin fever, sign up for Saturday's Cub Club: Burrowing Buddies at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit! Story time, arts and crafts and more.


Chillier temps have you dreaming of warm-weather adventures? Remember it's not too early to reserve your favorite campground sites in Michigan state parks.


More than 600 Michigan schools currently offer the National Archery in the Schools Program. Learn more about how you can bring this exciting opportunity to schools in your area!

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