DNR Get Involved: state park, trail volunteers, Kirtland's warbler license plate

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DNR Get Involved - January 2022

Group of volunteers by Fort Custer Recreation Area sign in winter

Here are a few ways to get involved in taking care of Michigan’s natural resources this month. For more opportunities to volunteer, contribute and provide input, visit Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers.

Take part in state park stewardship workdays

Two volunteers remove invasive plants in snowy forest

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

Please note that registration is required for all volunteer workdays.

Workdays will take place:

  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 8, at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County).
  • 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 8, at Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, at Waterloo Recreation Area (Jackson County).
  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 15, at Belle Isle Park (Wayne County).
  • 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 15, and Saturday, Jan. 29, at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, and Sunday, Jan. 30, at Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County).
  • 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Jan. 23, at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County).
  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 29, at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County).

More details about each workday and how to register can be found on the DNR volunteer events calendar.

Help keep trails safe and enjoyable

groomer on snowmobile trail

There are more than 150 DNR-associated volunteer groups that hold trail workdays year-round. Michigan's designated hiking, biking, equestrian, ORV and snowmobile trails all need volunteers to help with brush removal, sign installation and maintenance, snow grooming, dirt grading and even grant writing. You can make a difference in the quality of any of the state's vast trails networks by connecting with a trails group where you live or near your favorite getaway locations across the state. Volunteering out on the trails also offers a chance to meet people with common stewardship goals and interests – and perhaps even explore a trail you've never been on and plan for a return visit!

If you can help for a day, a weekend or a season, or if you just want to know more about volunteering on Michigan trails, contact Jessica Holley-Roehrs via email at HolleyJ1@Michigan.gov and put "VOLUNTEER" in the subject line.

Share your comments and ideas

The Michigan Trails Advisory Council hosts several advisory workgroup meetings throughout the year. These workgroups – for ORV, snowmobile, nonmotorized and equine trails – assist the council with its duties and responsibilities and advise the DNR on the creation, development, operation and maintenance of the state’s designated trails systems. If you want to address the workgroup, complete a comment card prior to, or during, the public appearance portion of the meeting. For more information and workgroup meeting schedules, visit the Michigan Trails Advisory Council webpage.

Learn and demonstrate trail safety, courtesy and responsible recreation

Recreational safety education courses designed to educate and develop safe, knowledgeable and responsible ORV and snowmobile owners and operators are available across the state. You can take an online or classroom-based course to get an ORV or snowmobile safety certificate. Find more information and class listings on the DNR’s ORV safety certificate and snowmobile safety certificate pages.

You can also help keep all outdoor enthusiasts happy and safe, while protecting our state's natural landscapes, by showing courtesy on the trail – see motorized trail etiquette and nonmotorized trail etiquette – and respectfully reminding others about safe and responsible trail use.

Support Michigan wildlife with new Kirtland’s warbler license plate

sample Kirtland's warbler license plate

Michigan's wildlife habitat license plate now features the Kirtland’s warbler – chosen as the latest species to be highlighted on the license plate to celebrate the recovery of this unique bird.

In 2019, the Kirtland’s warbler was removed from the endangered species list. Ongoing efforts by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and a multitude of partners have ensured nesting habitat is available, and will continue to be, for this songbird that nests only in young jack pine stands in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario.

All proceeds from the sale of the wildlife habitat license plate will continue to support the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund and will benefit nongame species like the warbler.

Since the license plate became available in 2006, with the loon as the first species featured, it has raised over $3.9 million.

You can buy the wildlife habitat license plate through the Secretary of State for $35, with $25 going to the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund.

Sign up for Bob Ross-inspired Happy Little (Virtual) 5K

Happy Little 5K shirt, bib and medal

Don’t forget to sign up for the Run for the Trees / Happy Little (Virtual) 5K, taking place April 22-29.

No matter how you reach the finish line – walk, run or hike – you pick the pace and the place, anywhere outdoors.

Registration is $34 per person. Everyone who participates gets a Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and finisher's medal.

All proceeds support tree planting and forest protection efforts (such as invasive plant and forest pest management and early detection surveys) in state parks and recreation areas.

This year's event is capped at 18,500 participants, so don't delay – register for the Happy Little 5K.

Support new track chairs at state parks

We’re raising funds to make more state parks accessible to visitors by purchasing 17 new track chairs. These off-road, electronic chairs can easily handle trails, snow, sand and even up to 8 inches of water, allowing users to explore areas of the parks that traditional wheelchairs might not reach. They are already available on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost at some of Michigan's state parks. Make a donation to support a track chair for your favorite park.

Volunteer at Michigan History Center

If you're looking for a volunteer opportunity in the Lansing area, the Michigan History Center is looking for you! Volunteers include tour guides, program presenters, gallery assistants and greeters, and in thanks for supporting one of the state's leading history institutions, they get a variety of discounts and continuing education opportunities. An orientation session is scheduled for Jan. 11. Learn more about becoming a Michigan History Center volunteer.