DNR News: Salmon in schools, frog and toad survey, Happy Little 5K deadline

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News Digest - Week of Feb. 24, 2020

dark-haired, smiling girl holding a live, bagged salmon, ready for release into the water

The springtime fish release is always an exciting time for Salmon in the Classroom students and teachers! 

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.

Want salmon in your classroom? Apply by April 15

Salmon in the Classroom video thumbnail play button

Reading, writing and ... raising salmon? For some 30,000 students across Michigan, definitely! Their schools are participating this year in the DNR's Salmon in the Classroom program, a unique, hands-on opportunity to watch salmon eggs hatch and move through several life stages, while also monitoring their aquarium habitat, and eventually taking the fish to local watersheds for spring release. 

Tracy Page, who coordinates Salmon in the Classroom for the DNR, said the department is gratified that the program has grown from a handful of classrooms in 1997 to more than 280 this year.

"This program is all about 'real science' and gives teachers a powerful tool for helping kids understand the connections between their everyday actions and the effects on our natural world," Page said. "It's also great exposure to possible career pathways in natural resources."

If you know an educator (third-grade classrooms and older) who might be interested in the next cycle, which starts in fall 2020, the application deadline is April 15.

Page said that Salmon in the Classroom has been popular at schools in the metro Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, and she looks forward to welcoming even more schools in coming years. The program thrives with support from sportsmen’s groups, community foundations and other partners, plus thorough teacher training and comprehensive curriculum and classroom activity ideas.

Questions? Contact Tracy Page at 517-284-6033 or visit Michigan.gov/SIC for program details and a brief informational video.

Happy Little 5K registration ends Saturday; don't wait

Happy Little 5K race bib, medal, T-shirt and Bob Ross, Michigan State Parks pain easel graphic

Has the DNR's Happy Little 5K / Run for the Trees been on your list of spring things to do? Well, if you haven't signed up yet, the clock is ticking! Registration for this virtual, state parks-supporting race closes Saturday, Feb. 29. 

The race is inspired by beloved "Joy of Painting" artist Bob Ross and his passion for natural landscapes and "happy little trees." All proceeds from the race will support the DNR's tree-planting program in Michigan state parks, including locations that have been hard-hit by tree pests and diseases.

Participants can complete their race anywhere and at whatever speed suits them, as long as it is between April 17-26. Everyone gets a keepsake race T-shirt, medal and race bib, plus the satisfaction of helping to bring more happy little trees to Michigan's public outdoor spaces. Learn more about the race and register today

Questions? Contact Michelle Coss at 517-881-5884.

Lend your ear to DNR's annual frog and toad survey

side view of a brown and rust colored wood frog, sitting on a gray rocky area, some dried brush

If you love the sound of deep croaks and rhythmic ribbits, consider helping the DNR with its annual frog and toad survey. Now in its 25th year, Michigan’s survey is the second-longest-running such survey in the nation, after Wisconsin, and relies on volunteers’ keen ears and observations to provide a clearer picture of species abundance and location.

Caitlin Boon, the DNR's acting Wildlife Action Plan coordinator, said that declining populations of frogs, toads and other amphibians have been well-documented worldwide since the 1980s. Studies suggest that trend is due to habitat loss, pollution, disease and collection.

“This survey work is key to department efforts to understand and manage amphibian populations, and that work couldn’t be completed without the people who volunteer each year,” Boon said. “It’s really a cool opportunity to get out in nature, along back roads and into the fields and forests, and do something a little different and fun that makes a difference for Michigan’s natural resources.”

Volunteer observers cover a statewide system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. Sites are visited three times during spring, when frogs and toads are actively breeding. Observers listen for calling frogs and toads, identify which of Michigan’s 13 species they hear, and then estimate how many frogs and toads are present.

The survey’s continued success depends on strong volunteer support, and help is needed all over the state. Interested volunteers should contact the Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 or DNR-FrogSurvey@Michigan.gov.

For more information on the frog and toad survey and other projects supported by the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund, visit Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

2020 hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Sunday

New DNR license sales system webpage screen shot

Don’t wait to get your 2020 hunting or fishing license – most licenses and permits go on sale March 1, when the new license year begins. 

That start date includes hunting and fishing license sales, except for certain deer licenses and furbearer tags that are sold later in the year. Applications for the 2021 Pure Michigan Hunt also go on sale that day.

Remember that 2019 fishing licenses, base/small-game licenses and ORV permits are valid through March 31, 2020. However, the 2020 versions of these licenses and permits can be purchased as of March 1. With the DNR’s just-introduced new license sales system, anglers have the added convenience of auto-renewing their fishing licenses through the e-license system.

Order online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or visit any Michigan retailer that sells DNR licenses. Kill tags and trail permits ordered online are mailed to customers and usually arrive in seven to 10 days. Check the DNR website for the latest season guides and digests, which are posted as they become available.

Questions? Email MDNR-E-License@Michigan.gov or call 517-284-6057.


Drop by the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit Feb. 29 for "Meet Michigan's Great Lakes Invaders" – a program exploring the invasive species that threaten many natural areas – and learn how you can help.


More than 100 state parks, state forest campgrounds, hundreds of boating access sites, thousands of miles of recreational trails – the Recreation Passport is your key to visiting it all, all year long!


We're looking to fill vacancies on the Eastern U.P. Citizens' Advisory Council, a group that makes policy recommendations to the DNR. Eastern U.P. residents with a passion for the outdoors, please apply by Feb. 28.

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