DNR News: Black Lake sturgeon season, wildland firefighting innovation, bear survey

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News Digest - Week of Jan. 25, 2021

black bear 2

Don't miss your chance to give input on the 2021-2022 bear hunting season!

Some of this week's stories may reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customers' needs and protect public health and safety. We will continue to share news and information about the best ways to enjoy our state's natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on access to facilities and programs. For 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.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Icy Grand Haven lighthouse

grand haven

Want to see more beautiful pictures like this (taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Dave Solce)? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the nearly two dozen photo ambassadors! For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

Black Lake sturgeon season opens Feb. 6


Eager for the chance to catch one of Michigan’s most unique fish? The lake sturgeon season on Black Lake in Cheboygan County begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, and registration is open until Feb. 5.

A new online registration process is required to participate, as well as a current Michigan fishing license for anyone 17 or older. Anglers must certify that they understand and will abide by the rules and safety requirements.

The catch quota this year is six lake sturgeon total. In the past, the season quota often has been met within the first day – sometimes in just a few hours! However, the season will last until the sixth fish is harvested, or five fish have been harvested at the end of any day from Feb. 6-10. Daily season fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the season will end at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, or when one of the two scenarios previously mentioned is met.

Anglers will receive text messages announcing the beginning of the season, and as each fish is harvested until the season closes.

Anglers are required to supply their own flagging material to hang on their shanty so DNR staff can recognize who is fishing. The material should be at least 1 foot square, and bright red or blaze orange.

Lucky anglers who get a sturgeon must immediately contact on-ice DNR personnel, who will direct them to registration. All DNR employees will wear face coverings and maintain social distance of at least 6 feet. Anglers are asked to take these same precautions when near anyone outside their immediate household, and also not to gather around DNR personnel.

For more information on the sturgeon season, other fishing opportunities and ice safety, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.

Questions? Contact Tim Cwalinski at 231-340-0276.

Virtual workshop showcases Michigan wildland firefighting innovation

firefighting vehicle

Upcycling used military transports into rugged trucks destined for fighting wildfires, engineering improved designs for fire-line plows and even getting into the nitty-gritty of dreaming up a better rake for ground crews – it’s all in a day’s work at the DNR’s Roscommon Equipment Center. 

Program design and fabrication specialists recently shared what they have to offer in the first virtual workshop provided to firefighting program managers in the U.S. and Canada. 

Located in the pine forests of northern lower Michigan near Roscommon, the REC is a federally supported program serving wildland firefighting agencies across the nation. 

“The program is incorporated into the work of the Michigan Forest Fire Experiment Station,” said program manager Dave Stockoski. “We develop and test innovations in the way wildfire is fought.” 

Workshop attendees logged in from neighboring Wisconsin, Minnesota and Quebec and from as far away as Maine, Kansas, Colorado and Texas. 

Features of the workshop included the history of the REC, founded in 1972, highlights of past and present projects and a discussion of how wildland firefighting agencies may submit proposals for new designs. One segment featured the development of the PowerBully vehicle (pictured above) deployed in the Upper Peninsula, which uses tracked wheels to power over rough and swampy terrain that is difficult for traditional trucks to navigate. 

Also covered in the workshop was the DNR aviation program, which uses small aircraft to detect fires, track wildlife and spot forest health issues, and an overview of a federal program that helps the DNR provide volunteer fire departments with low-cost, used military vehicles. The vehicles are then converted into firefighting equipment. This helps recycle resources and get valuable equipment into the hands of local firefighters. 

The REC has carried on a tradition of Michigan innovation in firefighting for nearly 50 years, and staff are looking forward to building equipment to keep people and forests safe into the future. 

Learn more at Michigan.gov/RoscommonEquipmentCenter.

Questions? Contact program manager Dave Stockoski at 989-329-3522. 

ICYMI: Bear hunting regulations survey deadline is Friday

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If you're interested in helping shape bear harvest quotas and regulations, now's the time to make your voice heard on proposed changes to the 2021-2022 hunting seasons.

Proposals were discussed at the virtual Bear Forum in December 2020. Review the bear forum summary for full proposals and take the survey, which closes Jan. 29.


Want to shake up your winter routine? Check out the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park! With luge, ice skating and more, plus accessible options, it's an experience you won't forget.


If you're gearing up to get out on the state's snowmobile trails, make sure your trail permit is ready to go. Always know where you're riding and remember to Ride Right


Happy Birthday, Michigan (Jan. 26)! If you're interested in our state's history, become a member of the Michigan History Center and help preserve Michigan's past for future generations.

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