DNR Get Involved: state park volunteer opportunities, state forest input, more

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DNR Get Involved - May 2021

 Monarch butterfly on a plant with small white flowers

Here are a few ways to get involved in taking care of Michigan’s natural resources in May. For more opportunities to volunteer, contribute and provide input, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Get Involved webpage at Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers.

Help remove invasive plants from state parks

female volunteer holds up garlic mustard plant

Several state parks in southern Michigan will host volunteer stewardship workdays in May. Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive plants that threaten high-quality ecosystems in the parks.

Please note that preregistration is required for all volunteer workdays, and participation may be limited due to social distancing requirements.

Although these are outdoor programs and proper social distancing of at least 6 feet is required, participants still are encouraged to wear face coverings as an added precaution.

Workdays will take place:

  • Saturday, May 1, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
  • Sunday, May 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Sunday, May 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County)
  • Saturday, May 8, 9 a.m. to noon at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Holland State Park (Ottawa County)
  • Sunday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County)
  • Sunday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County)
  • Tuesday, May 11, 4 to 6 p.m. at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Saturday, May 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Saturday, May 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
  • Sunday, May 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County)
  • Sunday, May 16, 1 to 4 p.m. at Holland State Park (Ottawa County)
  • Friday, May 21, 1 to 4 p.m. at Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County)
  • Saturday, May 22, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County)
  • Saturday, May 22, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County)
  • Sunday, May 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County)
  • Sunday, May 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County)
  • Friday, May 28, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County)
  • Saturday, May 29, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Holland State Park (Ottawa County)

More details about each workday can be found on the DNR volunteer events calendar.

Take part in state forest planning process

trencher prepares soil for planting

The DNR responsibly manages 3.9 million acres of state forest land using such techniques as timber harvests, planting and prescribed burns to keep forests thriving and healthy.

To make the work more efficient and easier to oversee, the DNR divides those millions of acres into 15 forest management units, which are further divided into compartments. Those are blocks of land generally 1 to 3 square miles (600 to 1,800 acres) in size.

Management activity in each forest management unit is finalized two years in advance. This summer and fall, recommendations for 2023 are being presented.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 open houses were held in a virtual format, with monthlong comment periods. At this time, open houses planned for 2021 will be virtual as well, with input invited by email, phone or mail during the designated time frame. This gives people the opportunity to offer input to foresters, wildlife biologists and other DNR professionals regarding forest plans.

"Our open house and compartment review meetings are an easy, informative way to learn about what's happening in state forests and what actions are being proposed to keep these lands thriving," said Jeff Stampfly, DNR Forest Resources Division chief. "If you have an interest in state forest lands in your area, we want to hear from you."

After the end of each comment period, a public compartment review meeting will take place, where foresters present the DNR’s final decisions on management activities. The DNR reviews 10% of the state forest annually. That equates to about 400,000 acres or roughly 220 compartments. 

For more information, including a link to the interactive forest map showing details of all forest management activities, visit Michigan.gov/ForestInput.

Below are the comment periods taking place in May and the related compartment reviews. Contact the area unit manager to make arrangements to view the compartment review meeting online or listen over the phone.

  • Baraga: Comments April 20-May 20; compartment review is June 10. Contact Brad Carlson, 906-201-4688.
  • Gaylord: Comments May 17-June 16; compartment review is July 15. Contact Lucas Merrick, 989-732-3541, ext. 5440.

See a full comment period schedule.

Give your opinion on latest state land review recommendations

Girl walks on wooded trail at Cheboygan State Park

Staff recommendations on whether to keep, exchange or sell land in the first 10 counties in the DNR’s state land review process are nearing DNR director approval, but there’s still plenty of time to review and share feedback via the interactive web map or by email to DNR-StateLandReview@Michigan.gov by June 9.

The counties under review include Alpena, Berrien, Branch, Cass, Charlevoix, Chippewa, Dickinson, Gogebic, Leelanau and St. Joseph. The updated web map reflects the latest staff recommendations since the initial public comment period closed, making it easy for people to see what has changed. The state land review is being implemented as part of the 2013 Managed Public Land Strategy and involves the review of DNR-managed lands that are 200 acres or less in size or that, due to an irregular boundary, may be difficult to manage.

“This county-by-county review process provides us the opportunity to evaluate and make decisions about how well the current land portfolio supports our mission of protecting natural resources while providing broad public access to quality outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DNR forest land administrator Kerry Wieber. “It’s critical that people who enjoy and use these lands are a part of the discussion, and we appreciate everyone who has taken the time to get involved so far.”

All feedback received now through June 9 will be compiled and provided to the DNR director. A final decision on recommendations is expected at the June 10 meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

Follow the latest updates on the state land review process at Michigan.gov/PublicLands.

Join efforts to monitor Michigan wildlife

Blanding's turtle in swamp

Report turtle sightings

Now that the warmer temperatures are back, Michigan's reptiles and amphibians are out and about once again. If you’re exploring natural areas, parks, trails or even your own neighborhood and see a Blanding's turtle (pictured), eastern box turtle, spotted turtle or wood turtle, please report your turtle observations at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField.  Eastern massasauga rattlesnake observation reports are also appreciated.

Your observations provide valuable data on distribution, relative abundance and trends for Michigan's reptile and amphibian species.

Watch for monarchs on the move

Monarch butterflies are striking insects with their bold black, orange and white markings. They overwinter in Mexico and are now heading north to Michigan for the warmer months. You may have noticed that monarchs are not as common as they once were. Due to habitat loss, monarchs, along with other pollinators, have been experiencing population declines.

You can help monitor monarchs, their migratory journey and summer sightings by reporting your monarch observations through Journey North.

Find more opportunities to help Michigan's monarchs and other pollinators, including pollinator gardening tips, at Michigan.gov/Monarchs.

Check out the latest Adopt-a-Forest newsletter

female volunteer in face mask picks up garbage in forest

Explore the spring/summer 2021 issue of the Adopt-a-Forest newsletter to:

  • Find out how to get involved in eliminating illegal dumping on public land in your community.
  • See results of last year’s “100 cleanups in 100 days” campaign.
  • Read about DNR conservation officer activity and other news related to illegal dumping.  
  • Learn about the Wheels to Woods program, which is helping connect kids and forests.

Adopt-a-Forest, a Michigan Coalition for Clean Forests program, aims to enhance enjoyment of public forest land by eliminating illegal dumping and to increase awareness of recycling opportunities for waste materials found. It encourages volunteers – the program's backbone – to clean up existing trash and to function as an "army" of educators. Learn more at CleanForests.org.

Join in Wolf Lake stewardship days

The Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan provides unique habitat and is home to several species of concern. Volunteers are needed to help protect this special place and improve habitat for various native species. Wolf Lake stewardship workdays are scheduled every other Wednesday, May through August. No experience necessary!

Help protect Black River sturgeon

Volunteers are needed in Cheboygan County now through early June to stand guard as mature lake sturgeon head upstream to their spawning sites along the Black River and help protect the fish from being illegally harvested. Learn more and register to volunteer at Sturgeon for Tomorrow’s Guarding Program webpage