DNR News: Forest roads review, sighting bald eagles and helping hungry families

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News Digest - Week of Nov. 2, 2020

forest road

Don't miss your chance to comment on proposed changes to state forest road maps.

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.

Forest road maps are open for annual review

forest roads

Thousands of miles of Michigan’s state forest roads are open for the public to use and explore. As part of an annual inventory and review process, public comments will be accepted through Dec. 1 on proposed changes to vehicle use on state forest roads.

This annual update helps ensure that the DNR’s forest road inventory is accurate and meets requirements outlined in Public Act 288 of 2016.

“Public participation is important for this decision-making process to protect natural resources while ensuring as much recreational access as possible,” said DNR Forest Resources Division acting chief Jeff Stampfly. 

Proposed changes to road maps include:

  • Adding roads that previously were unmapped.
  • Deleting roads that no longer exist.
  • Removing duplicate road entries.
  • Closing roads to conventional vehicle use, including ORVs.
  • Closing roads only to ORV use and opening other roads to ORV use.

“This year, efforts focused on evaluating the existing forest road maps, making changes where warranted, and comparing on-the-ground roads to online datasets,” said Kristen Matson, forest road inventory review team member. “Changes were proposed to increase the accuracy of the map system.” 

Public input will be accepted online and via email until Dec. 1. Comment on or view the locations of proposed changes on an interactive web map or printable PDF maps at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads or send emails to DNR-RoadInventoryProject@Michigan.gov

Comments will also be accepted at upcoming Michigan Natural Resources Commission meetings in early 2021. At the January meeting, state forest road proposals will be brought before the DNR director for information. At the February meeting, the DNR director is expected to make a formal decision on the proposed changes. 

New maps will go into effect and be published online April 1, 2021.

Break out your binoculars for bald eagles

bald eagle

The bald eagle is an iconic bird that holds special meaning for many Michiganders. They can be found in the state year-round, and, if you didn’t spot any this summer, you still might see one of these handsome birds in the coming winter months. Keep your binoculars handy; bald eagles can be seen congregating around open bodies of water hunting for fish. You can use the eBird website to see where eagles have been spotted.

Eagles, while still protected by state and federal laws, have recovered in number and it’s not uncommon to see them throughout Michigan. Bald eagles’ white head and tail feathers are striking features, but did you know that the birds don’t get these white feathers until they’re 5 years old? This is also when they start looking for a mate. Immature eagles are all brown with white mottling.

During the early spring and summer months you might be fortunate enough to see an eagle nest site and get to watch the adults raise their chicks. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were almost 850 bald eagle nests in Michigan in 2019! Nests were found in 81 of the state’s 83 counties.

Michigan is also lucky to get occasional visits from one of North America’s other eagles – the golden eagle. While golden eagles don’t nest in Michigan, they can be seen moving through the state during fall and spring migrations. These large, majestic birds are an exciting sight, so break out your binoculars and keep your eyes trained on the sky.

The All About Birds site by The Cornell Lab has helpful information and bird identification tips, including for the bald eagle and golden eagle.

Additional tips and information about wildlife viewing in Michigan can be found at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Deer hunters can enter prize drawings while helping feed hungry families


As Michigan’s firearm deer season draws near, and with bow season already underway, hunters can help hungry families in their community by donating a deer to Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger. 

For a third year, the DNR is cooperating with the organization and Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare to accept deer for donation to local food banks. Hunters in northeast Michigan will have a new opportunity to participate by donating at Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning. 

Hunters donating a legally taken deer at the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger truck at the Jay’s Clare location or Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning will have their name entered for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate from the store where they donated.  

A donation truck will be at Jay’s – located at 8800 S. Clare Ave. in Clare – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16; Friday, Nov. 20; and Saturday, Nov. 21. Deer donated at Jay’s will be processed at Carson Village Market in Carson City. 

Northwoods Wholesale Outlet, located at 229 W. 5th St. in Pinconning, will host a truck from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.

Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that helps connect donors, wild game processors and charities like food banks, pantries and shelters that offer critical food assistance.

The organization processed over 82,000 pounds of ground venison last year, providing more than 400,000 meals for families in need.

“Last year was great, but with the pandemic, the need for food donations is even greater. I would love to hit 100,000 pounds this year,” said Dean Hall, executive officer of Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.

To learn more about the prize drawing, find a participating processor or make a monetary donation to support venison processing, visit

Hunters also can make a monetary donation when they buy a hunting license.

Questions? Contact Ray Rustem at 517-420-0005.

Hunters, plan ahead for kill tags to arrive in time


With just under two weeks until Michigan’s firearm deer season opener, the DNR encourages people planning to buy hunting licenses online to do it soon. The reason? When license purchases are made online, all kill tags (the tags you’re required to attach to your deer) are sent in the mail and generally will take between seven and 14 days to arrive.  

Ken Silfven, DNR license sales and customer service manager, said the last-minute rush for licenses tends to happen every year, and it’s understandable. 

“We totally get it. People are busy with work and family responsibilities. Sometimes, you’re probably thinking ahead about the excitement of that first hunt of the year, but maybe not about the details,” Silfven said. “We’re just trying to avoid having too many people sitting down at their computers to buy licenses the weekend before opening day, and then worrying about kill tags.” 

Hunters can buy licenses online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or in person at any licensing agent. For more information, email MDNR-E-License@Michigan.gov or call 517-284-6057.

ICYMI: $3.6 million in grants available to target invasive species


Michigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program is accepting proposals for the 2020 funding cycle, with an anticipated $3.6 million available to applicants. The program – a joint effort of the Michigan departments of Natural Resources; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Agriculture and Rural Development – is part of a statewide initiative launched in 2014 to help prevent, detect and control invasive species in Michigan.

The 2020 grant program handbook outlines priorities and application guidelines. Applicants also can take advantage of a two-part webinar Thursday, Nov.5:

  • Part 1 starts at 9 a.m. and will focus on general grant information, 2020 priorities and the application process.
  • Part 2 follows at 10 a.m. and will explain the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area application process and funding for 2020.

Both the handbook and webinar registration information are available at Michigan.gov/MISGP. A recorded version of the webinar will be available at this website after Nov. 10.

Local, state, federal and tribal units of government, nonprofit organizations and universities may apply for funding to support invasive species projects in Michigan. Full project proposals are due Dec. 11. Award announcement is anticipated in March 2021.


Got a family genealogy project or want to start one? Check out the virtual fall family history seminar, Saturday, Nov. 14. For just $20, learn how to get started on your family history journey. 


No matter what you choose to hunt, make sure you have a valid license before you head out. Make note of season dates and check out the MI-Hunt interactive map for lands open to hunting. 


Michigan has an abundance of forest, but not everyone takes care of it. Every year, tons of trash is illegally dumped in our forests. Adopt-a-Forest today and help keep these lands clean and healthy for all to enjoy. 

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