DNR News: Forever forests, hungry bears, new 'Wardens' and more

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News Digest - Week of March 7, 2022

young, smiling blond girl in purple snowsuit and pink knit hat watches the ground as she snowshoes down a snow-covered, forested trail

Spring may be waiting in the wings, but there's still plenty of winter fun to enjoy!

This week's stories may reflect how the Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customer needs and protect public health and safety. Follow our COVID-19 response page for updates on access to facilities and programs.  

We'll continue to share news and information about the best ways to discover and enjoy Michigan's natural and heritage resources! Here's a look at some of this week's stories:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of some of the images used below, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Hartwick Pines' snowy splendor

angled view of a dark brown, log cabin with yellow trim and snow-covered roof, set among snow-covered trees and a lone picnic bench out front

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Samantha Hageman Gaina at Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the photo ambassador program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

New on ‘Wardens’: Fishing patrols, Smokey’s safety message

a dark brown and white hot air balloon shaped like Smokey Bear's head looms over an open, grassy area filled with other hot air balloons on ground

A conservation officer rarely has the same day twice, and it’s that variety of service and experience that draws many people to the job. As unpredictable as their work can be, these officers are focused on helping people legally and safely enjoy the outdoors in ways that respect the resources and other outdoor enthusiasts.

This week on “Wardens,” the show looks at ice fishing patrols in frigid conditions, tracking down snowmobilers fleeing a stop, capitalizing on the popularity of cherished fire safety icon, Smokey Bear – whose likeness, a 97-foot-tall, 145,000-cubic-foot hot air balloon, was on display last summer at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba – and recognizing opportunities to connect with customers.

Angela Greenway, featured in this episode, has been with the DNR for 20 years. She said that although it’s the customer connection she most enjoys while patrolling Mecosta County, some people don’t always expect to be approached by a female conservation officer.

“You learn to just roll with it and, when appropriate, joke with people to ease the situation,” Greenway said. “There were times people walked up to the driver’s side of the truck to ask a question, see I was a woman, and then go to the passenger side to talk with my male partner, who would usually direct the customer back to me. Not that they couldn’t answer the question, but they knew what was going on.”

In this “Wardens” episode, Greenway talks with a man ice fishing on Chippewa Lake. She’s politely correcting some misconceptions he has about fishing regulations regarding who needs licenses and how many lines the group can use, and he is appreciative of the information and her concern to check on the young man in his party, who was warming up in the shanty after accidentally stepping into the fishing hole.

a female conservation officer wearing khaki uniform, cap and face mask, stands in front of a patrol truck, hands folded in front

All in all, it was a good day, and further evidence of the broader acceptance of women in these roles. During Women’s History Month, too, it is fitting to recognize the achievements of all women who are making positive contributions and succeeding in law enforcement careers.

Greenway is something of a trailblazer, as the lone female recruit – two started, but one woman chose to leave around midway through – to graduate the DNR’s Recruit School #2 in 2003, after which she was assigned to Lake County, before transferring to Mecosta County in 2014.

Greenway is quick to praise the support she’s had from partners and mentors, both men and women, over the years.

“It’s hard to put into words, early on, how differently we were treated by the public. It was different and still is, though it’s not always bad; really, it’s more good than bad,” she said. “I’ve always worked with great partners, and that has made all the difference.”

Catch Greenway’s work in the new “Wardens” episode this week, and a sneak peek now. Episodes air on the Outdoor Channel every Friday at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m., Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Monday at 5:30 p.m. and at 2:30 a.m., and Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. (all times Eastern Standard). WLUC FOX UP TV6 also airs previous episodes every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

To get the Outdoor Channel, ask your local TV service provider or go to OutdoorChannel.com, MyOutdoorTV.com or Amazon Prime or call 1-855-44OUTDOOR. More than 52 episodes have featured the state of Michigan and have had more than 30 million viewers!

Questions? Contact Dave Haupt at 517-420-0819.

NOTE: If you're interested in becoming a conservation officer, talk with a recruiter soon! Academy applications will be accepted through March 31.

Don't wait: Forest Legacy Program nominations due May 13

a mature, lush green tree on left of a winding dirt trail, a mature, bright orange and red tree on right side of the trail, amid tall grass

From the trout-fishing haven of the Keweenaw Peninsula’s Pilgrim River to the prime elk habitat recently added to the Pigeon River Country State Forest, Michigan has more than 160,000 acres of environmentally sensitive forests that are protected through the federal Forest Legacy Program.

The program uses federal and matching funds to protect environmentally important forests by purchasing property outright or acquiring development rights through a working forest conservation easement.

Nomination applications are now open for the nationally competitive program; make sure to get yours in by May 13.

Administered by the USDA Forest Service, the program provides an opportunity for landowners to keep forests as forests, encourages sustainable management and supports strong markets for forest products.

“In addition to securing property rights to ensure that forests are managed sustainably, the Forest Legacy Program supports healthy forest benefits such as wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, clean water and clean air,” said Kerry Heckman, forest land administrator for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.

All interests in land acquired by the Forest Legacy Program last forever, and agreements must contain language to ensure that they are perpetual. Michigan’s program also requires that land or rights in land are open to the public, at least for nonmotorized access.

Landowners who don’t have an existing forest management plan will need to create one before a project can be completed. The DNR will review and prioritize eligible projects and may submit the top three to compete nationally for funding.

Projects nominated by May 13 will compete for funding in the federal fiscal year 2024, which begins Oct. 1, 2023. The state can request up to $20 million for projects. Find an application or learn more at Michigan.gov/PrivateForestLand. Additional information is also contained in the landscape assessment associated with Michigan’s Forest Action Plan.

Questions? Contact Kerry Heckman at 517-643-1256.

Simple actions can protect bears this spring

black bear standing up, holding the sides of a red and white birdfeeder as it eats the seed, all in a landscaped residential area

It's that time of year: Black bears soon will leave their dens and become active. Though they'll primarily forage on green vegetation, bears will eat from bird feeders, outdoor pet foods and garbage cans, if available.

Taking simple steps now can keep bears safely at a distance and prevent conflicts this spring and summer:

  • Remove bird feeders or replace feeders with bird baths.
  • Bring in outdoor pet foods and keep grills and patio furniture clean.
  • Secure garbage cans indoors overnight; take them to the curb the morning of pickup.

Attract birds, not bears

If you live in the Upper Peninsula or northern Lower Peninsula, bird feeders can lead to problems for you and bears. Rather than leaving out a calorie-rich bird seed, swap out the feeder for a bird bath, nest box or bird perch. Even better, add a few native plants to your garden that will attract birds year after year. Visit the Audubon website to learn more about native plants that birds love.

Bring pet food indoors, clean grills

Pet foods, outdoor grills and patio furniture offer a buffet of smells for bears, whose noses are highly effective at sniffing out snacks. In fact, they can smell 100 times better than humans! While you might not be able to smell last year's barbecue on the grill, a bear certainly can.

Wait for garbage pickup day

Bears and other wildlife can be more active under the veil of darkness. Rather than leaving your garbage can outside overnight, store the garbage in a garage, basement or freezer until the morning when garbage is collected.

To learn more about being Bear SMART this spring, visit Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Media contact: Rachel Leightner at 517-243-5813.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Lansing

a mature brown and tan bull elk stands in chest-high prairie grass, against the backdrop of a thick, green forest

An update on lake trout harvest and regulations for northern Lake Huron, several land transactions, elk regulations and an analysis of bear population trends are on the agenda for the next meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, scheduled for Thursday, March 10.

The meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. in West Campus Rooms M119-121 at Lansing Community College, 5708 Cornerstone Drive, in Lansing. See the draft meeting agenda and other commission details at Michigan.gov/NRC. (Please note that LCC's COVID policies include an indoor mask requirement for students, staff, visitors and event attendees.)

For more information or to request time to speak at the meeting, contact Victoria Lischalk at 517-599-1067 or NRC@Michigan.gov.


The Outdoor Adventure Center's Lumberjack 5K (and .5K Pancake Fun Run) are back March 26! Wear your best flannel and enjoy the pancake breakfast after the race.


About $3.3 million in Waterways Program grants is available to eligible local units of government and state colleges and universities. Apply by April 1. 


If you want to lend a hand but aren't sure where to start, check our volunteer information webpage to see which opportunities best fit your interests!

As part of a project to modernize websites for all state agencies, we will be launching a new website in the coming weeks. The site will look different and you will need to update any bookmarks. Learn more at Michigan.gov/WebsiteUpdate.