DNR News: tree planting grants, water safety and Clean, Drain, Dry

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News Digest - Week of Aug. 31, 2020

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Being prepared for any situation can help keep your outdoor adventure enjoyable.

Some of the items in this week's news digest reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is adapting to meet customers' needs. Public health and safety are our biggest priorities, and we will continue to share news and information about the safest, and sometimes new, ways to enjoy our state's natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on facilities and reopening dates. For the latest public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the 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.

Keep water safety in mind this holiday weekend


After heavy July Fourth water traffic throughout the state, conservation officers are preparing to patrol another busy holiday weekend. Whether fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, swimming or lazily tubing down a river, always put safety first.

Stay alert, keep an eye on water conditions and always wear a life jacket and use a flotation device, even if water seems calm. 

Watch this new DNR video with more tips and recommendations for staying safe on the water, and get more safety information at Michigan.gov/Boating.

28 communities, organizations get tree planting grants

tree planting

Streets, parks and other public spaces are going to look a little greener thanks to a grant program sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the DTE Energy Foundation and the nonprofit ReLeaf Michigan. Twenty-eight Michigan communities will plant 1,100 trees in those spaces, sharing $91,870 in grants dedicated to tree-planting projects.

“Trees in our communities play a vital role in the health and well-being of our cities and the people who live there,” said Kevin Sayers, DNR Urban and Community Forestry program coordinator. “This has become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as communities recognize the value of having extensive and accessible green spaces filled with healthy trees.”

The DTE Energy Foundation provides funding to ReLeaf Michigan and the DNR for the grants. They in turn partner with communities, schools and nonprofits to demonstrate leadership as stewards of our environment and communities. Since the program’s inception, nearly 47,000 trees and seedlings have been planted in over 500 communities from Iron Mountain to Detroit.

“Michigan is known for its vast natural beauty and it’s our responsibility to do our part to protect it,” said Lynette Dowler, executive director and president, DTE Energy Foundation. “Through our partnership with ReLeaf Michigan and the DNR, we’ll not only enhance the natural beauty of our state, we’ll create opportunities for families and communities to mobilize and make a difference together as well. We look forward to seeing this year's seedlings become the backdrop for a lifetime of memories – and catalysts for positive environmental change – statewide.”  

Communities interested in volunteer tree plantings or educational events should visit ReleafMichigan.org, email ReLeaf Michigan or call 800-642-7353.For more information about DTE Energy Foundation programs, contact Coleen Rosso at 313-235-8859.

To learn about DNR programs, contact Kevin Sayers at 517-582-3209, or visit Michigan.gov/UCF.

See the list of all grant recipients for 2020.

Waterfowl hunters: Remember to Clean, Drain and Dry!

dog & decoys

As waterfowl season nears, hunters are reminded to take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species. Cleaning and drying boats and gear, then draining bilges and water tanks, can help maintain quality habitat in Michigan’s waters.

Invasive plants like European frog-bit, phragmites and starry stonewort prefer shallow waters and wetlands, often the same places where ducks and geese are found. When these plants take over, they crowd out native vegetation and can make access difficult for boats and dogs.

Small seeds or plant fragments are often all that is needed to introduce invasive plants to new locations. Seeds can be transported in mud left on waders and anchors or stick to boat and decoy surfaces. Plant fragments left on boat motors and trailers or tangled in stubble straps can start new populations of invasive plants at your next location. 

Michigan law now requires boaters to Clean, Drain and Dry. After your boat is trailered, but before you leave the launch site, inspect the boat and trailer and remove any plants or fragments. Wipe off any mud and debris and remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells.

This is also a good time to inspect gear and dogs for any plants or debris. Once home, give waders and gear a thorough wash and allow them to dry completely before the next use.

When constructing a blind or camouflaging a boat, be sure to choose synthetic materials or native plants. Watch this short video for some helpful tips.

For more information on invasive species, visit Michigan.gov/Invasives.

ICYMI: Have the best day outdoors by preparing for the worst

first aid kit

Preparing for everything from a bee sting and bear sightings to blocked roads and bad weather helps ensure an enjoyable adventure in the outdoors, especially if you’re heading into the wilder side of Michigan’s public lands.

Always keep in mind that the wilderness is just that – wild. Knowing the potential hazards of the great outdoors and planning accordingly can go a long way toward making some great memories with family and friends.

Read more on recommendations, tips and resources in this recent Showcasing the DNR story.


Want to get into fishing, but don't know where to start? We have some resources to help you learn to fish


September is a big month for hunting. Make sure you're up to date with season dates and have a valid license.


Volunteering for a stewardship workday is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy your favorite state park.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.

Census 2020 - Be Counted