DNR News: fall burn permits, boost your bird-watching and National Forest Products Week

Share or view as webpage  |  Update preferences

News Digest - Week of Oct. 19, 2020

leaves header

Always check fire conditions before burning leaves or brush.

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.

Doing fall yard cleanup? Don't forget to check for a burn permit


Leaves are turning red and gold across Michigan, and for many, that means it’s time to take care of fall yard cleanup before the snow flies. 

Before lighting that match to ignite leaf piles and brush, remember to check if conditions are safe for burning and know your local fire ordinances. You can also consider mulching or composting fallen leaves, which enriches the soil and does not pose a wildfire hazard. Get composting tips in this Michigan State University Extension article. 

If you’re in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, visit Michigan.gov/BurnPermit or call 866-922-BURN to find out whether burning is allowed. Southern Lower Peninsula residents can get burn permits from their local government or fire department.

“Although temperatures are getting cooler, dry weather and high winds can still carry sparks with the potential to start wildfires,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist.

When burning, always have a water source nearby and never leave a fire unattended. It’s ok to burn natural materials like leaves, branches and logs, but not legal to burn plastic or other trash. 

Visit Michigan.gov/BurnPermit for more information on responsible burning.

Questions? Contact Paul Rogers at 616-260-8406.

Elevate your bird-watching with some community science


One of the best ways to enjoy Michigan’s fall colors and fresh air is to take in the many majestic migratory birds that dot our skies and landscapes this time each year. Better yet, birders of all experience levels can lend bird research a hand by sharing observations of what they see and when and where they see it. 

Michigan’s fall migration includes waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds, songbirds and raptors that head south to their wintering grounds. Such bird patterns, often complex and misunderstood, are key to helping identify conservation priorities that best support these winged wanderers.  

Why does that matter to you? Well, researchers need help. You can help advance Audubon’s Migratory Bird Initiative by visiting public lands and reporting bird sightings on eBird – an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Plus, eBird makes it easy to keep track of your own bird observations, photos and audio files. 

The DNR owns and manages half of Michigan’s 103 Important Bird Areas (sites of international significance for the conservation of the world’s birds), and it's no surprise these make for excellent birding destinations. Many are in DNR-managed state wildlife and game areas. Before you go, though, become familiar with hunting season start dates at these locations; check the Michigan Hunting Digest or call your local DNR office. Birders are advised to wear brightly colored clothing, as fall hunting seasons are getting underway, and remember that a Recreation Passport is needed for vehicle entry at state parks and recreation areas.   

See the full list of Michigan IBAs at Audubon.org. Other resources include a list of Michigan’s birding trails and sanctuaries, plus the MI Birds blog with tips on making the most of your fall birding experience.

For more birding inspiration, explore MI Birds, your one-stop shop for all things birds in Michigan. Follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Celebrate 2-by-4s and much more during National Forest Products Week

mass timber building

Do you feel a yawn coming on when someone says: “forest products industry?” 

Stifle it! Then look around your home or workspace and celebrate National Forest Products week with the rest of us. Forest products make up a lot of what we see around us, including the lumber most houses are made of, the office paper that spits out of your printer and, yes, even the toilet paper that was in such short supply during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Michigan’s forest products industry contributes $21.2 billion and supports more than 99,000 jobs in Michigan’s economy,” said Jeff Stampfly, acting chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division. 

More than 300 active mills in Michigan produce lumber, high-end veneer, posts and poles, particleboard, plywood, oriented strand board, paper, wood pulp and industrial fuelwood. National Forest Products Week, Oct. 18-24 this year, was established by Congress to recognize the value of forest products and commit to conservation practices that help responsibly manage U.S. forests. 

Although people have been using wood for thousands of years, wood technology is still emerging. The DNR co-sponsored a recent summit on mass timber construction, which uses engineered wood columns, beams and panels to build large or tall structures. The DNR will use that construction method to replace its current offices in Newberry. The state-of-the-art, $5 million mass timber building will include a public meeting room. 

“We’re excited about the opportunity to share the possibilities of this building technique in Michigan,” Stampfly said. 

There’s much to learn about Michigan’s forest products industry, like certifications that ensure Michigan’s 4 million acres of state forest are managed to be sustainable. It’s an important part of our state’s economy and helps create more products than you might think.

Questions? Contact David Neumann at 517-490-7640.


Looking to go on a road trip to some of Michigan's historical sites? Find your favorite markers and plan your route with the historical marker map!


NotMISpecies, a new, monthly webinar series exploring Michigan's Invasive Species Program, kicks off 9 a.m. Oct. 22. Register for free at Michigan.gov/EGLEEvents.



No matter who you’re voting for, make sure to plan ahead! Today is the last day to register to vote online and request an absent voter ballot at Michigan.gov/Vote.

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

Make your plan to vote November 3 or earlier