DNR News: New fishing season, Salmon in the Classroom, Conservation Officer Appreciation Day

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News Digest - Week of March 14, 2022

a tight grouping of bright purple crocuses with orange stamens, green grass peering through part of the background

Need a spring boost? These crocuses might do the trick!

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, and others, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Bewitching Belle Isle

gray, glass-domed conservatory building against a cloudy, pink-lit sky, with pink, red and white tulips and lush green grass in foreground

Want to see more gorgeous pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Mike Sonnenberg at Belle Isle Park in Detroit? 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.

Tuesday is Conservation Officer Appreciation Day

a smiling, red-haired woman, a bearded man in hoodie and a female conservation officer laugh while petting a white and brown dog jumping up

More than 200 men and women serve as Michigan conservation officers – a demanding career that continues to evolve since first being established here in 1887. Recognizing these officers' many contributions, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed Tuesday, March 15, as Conservation Officer Appreciation Day in our state.

“Michigan’s conservation officers are in the field every day, doing their utmost to protect our state’s unrivaled woods, waterways and wildlife and the Michiganders and visitors who enjoy them,” said Gov. Whitmer. “On Conservation Officer Appreciation Day and every day, we commend these officers for their service, bravery and unyielding commitment to public safety, positive outdoor recreation experiences and sustainable natural resources. Together, we will strive to be good stewards of our phenomenal parks and public lands so we can pass them on to our children and children’s children.”

As sworn law enforcement officers who live in the counties they patrol, conservation officers are embedded members of their communities, equipped with the tools they need to respond to life-threatening, general criminal, and search and rescue events where time is of the essence.

Last year, Michigan COs contacted more than 387,000 people, delivering natural resource protection, education, safety tips and general law enforcement services to ensure people responsibly enjoyed the outdoors.

A uniformed, male conservation officer stands in front of his  black DNR patrol truck, next to Comerica Park baseball stadium in Detroit

“The men and women who make up our ranks of conservation officers are the first line of defense in protecting Michigan’s world-class natural resources today, just as generations of officers have done every day for the past 135 years,” said Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division.

“In addition to our traditional fish and game role, our officers serve as an integral part of the community policing and public safety response networks in the counties where they are assigned.”

In this short video, meet a Grand Rapids man and his family who were helped by a DNR officer after a life-threatening chainsaw accident in Oceana County.

March 31 academy application deadline

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Michigan conservation officer, the DNR is hiring recruits for the upcoming 2022 academy. Get all the information you need about this unique law enforcement career and connect with a recruiter at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

Questions? Email DNR-LawEnforcement@Michigan.gov.

2022 fishing license season begins April 1; new underwater spearfishing licenses available

a Black man and little boy, both dressed in dark jeans and jackets, boy in a khaki baseball cap, hold a fishing pole while standing on a grassy shore

For anglers eager to hit the water, a reminder that Michigan’s new license season – the 2022 fishing license season – starts Friday, April 1. Licenses for the 2022 season are valid through March 31, 2023, and can be purchased at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. Anyone buying a fishing license online will have the opportunity to sign up for auto-renewal through the DNR eLicense system.

Last month, the DNR announced upcoming regulation changes adopted by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. One notable change is the expansion of underwater spearfishing opportunities that will now include the chance to harvest additional species.

Starting April 1, underwater spearfishing for walleye, northern pike and lake trout has been added for Lake Michigan (waters south of the southernmost pier at Grand Haven) and Lake Huron (waters south of the southernmost pier of the Thunder Bay River, extending south to the mouth of the St. Clair River [Fort Gratiot Light]).

This opportunity requires a new underwater spearfishing license along with monthly effort and harvest reporting requirements. The underwater spearfishing license is complimentary, unless a DNR Sportcard is needed, and will be available only online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. See page 16 of the 2022 fishing guide (available on the DNR guides and digests page) for more on this spearfishing opportunity.

Everyone planning to fish is encouraged to periodically review the digital version of the fishing guide for regulation updates throughout the 2022 fishing season. For tips on getting started, choosing locations, targeting different species and other “how to” information, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.

Questions? Contact the DNR Fisheries Division main line at 517-284-5830 and select option 4.

Traveling soon? Don't forget your recreation safety certificate

a young woman with light brown hair, wearing black and blue life vest, steers a blue and white Jet Ski making waves on dark blue water

Taking an out-of-state hunting trip? Planning to rent a personal watercraft (such as a Jet Ski) on spring break? Don’t forget to take a copy of your Michigan safety certificate, demonstrating your completion of an appropriate safety program.

Many states require this documentation before you can rent a boat, personal watercraft or other equipment to participate in a season. If you've misplaced your certificate, don't worry. Anyone who has already completed a Michigan hunter, bow, marine, ORV, snowmobile or trapper education course can request a duplicate safety certificate.

Recreational safety education courses are available to complete online from the comfort of your home and at your own pace at Michigan.gov/RecreationalSafety.

Questions? Send an email to DNR-LED-RecSafety@Michigan.gov

Teachers: Salmon in the Classroom applications due April 15

young girl with light brown braid on one side, mouth open wide in a smile, holding a see-through cup of young salmon up near her face

If you are (or know) a third through 12th grade classroom teacher who’s looking for a creative, hands-on way to bring science and conservation into the curriculum, consider applying for the DNR’s Salmon in the Classroom program – but make sure applications are in by April 15!

Every year, the program helps almost 300 schools around the state raise chinook salmon in their classrooms, in preparation for spring release during field trips to local, approved rivers, lakes and streams.

Participating teachers get free professional development, a teacher’s guide and a curriculum guide with more than 30 classroom activities to help students explore Great Lakes ecology, water quality, life stages, anatomy, invasive species and much more. Teachers also earn State Continuing Education Clock Hours, as approved by the Michigan Department of Education.

“Salmon in the Classroom isn’t just another routine activity; it’s a front-row seat to science,” said DNR aquatic education coordinator Tracy Page.

“Teachers and students commit to learning everything they need to know in order to raise these fish from egg stage to smolt stage, and it’s like the kids go through a transformation, too,” she said. “There’s just something special about seeing the pride in these kids’ eyes when they’re placing their young fish into the river for the first time.”

Questions? Watch this Salmon in the Classroom video and get more program details – including timeline and application process – at Michigan.gov/SIC or contact Tracy Page at 989-277-0630.


Archery instruction, lantern-lit hikes, volunteer days and more at Michigan state parks: See what events are coming up the rest of this month!


As temperatures warm up, many folks will be thinking about ORV trails. Visit our ORV info page and get up to date on everything you need to get on the trails.


Want to share your passion for the outdoors? Become a volunteer safety instructor and help people stay safe in the woods and on the water.

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.