DNR Get Involved: state park volunteering, state forest input, sturgeon guarding

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DNR Get Involved - May 2022

line of volunteers, some with full trash bags, walking on forest trail

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

Help remove invasive plants from state parks

four stewardship volunteers standing by brush pile in forested area

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

Please note that preregistration is required for all volunteer workdays.

Workdays will take place:

  • Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County)
  • Saturday, May 7 and May 14, 10 a.m. to noon at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
  • Friday, May 13, noon to 2 p.m. and Sunday, May 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County)
  • Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County)
  • Sunday, May 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County)
  • Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County)
  • Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County)
  • Tuesday, May 24, 4 to 6 p.m. at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Saturday, May 28, 10 a.m. to noon at Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County)
  • Saturday, May 28, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Sunday, May 29, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County)

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

What do you think about your state forests?

Forest interior with stream flowing through it

It’s time to talk about your state forests.

Prescribed burns, timber harvests and other activities are carefully planned to keep Michigan’s nearly 4 million acres of state forest healthy and thriving.

Plans for these activities are currently being made for 2024, but public comment is welcome now, before those plans are finalized. In-person open houses were suspended during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many forest management units are returning to in-person open houses this season; you may also comment online or in writing.

To find out what activities are planned for the forest, choose the geographic area you are interested in and take a look at the planned activities on the DNR's interactive map. Submit online comments through the map during designated 30-day periods. If you’d prefer to attend an open house in person, scheduled dates are listed below.

Once public comment has been received, a meeting called a compartment review is held. That’s where plans are finalized. Contact the unit manager for details on how to attend an in-person open house or compartment review. The DNR’s Forest Resources Division welcomes public comment on all forest activities.

Units with comment periods in May are:

  • Baraga: Comment period is open through May 19; open house is May 19; compartment review is June 9. Contact Brad Carlson, 906-201-4688.
  • Gaylord: Comment period is May 15-June 16; open house is June 15; compartment review is July 14. Contact Lucas Merrick, 989-732-3541, ext. 5440.

See all scheduled comment periods, open houses and compartment review meetings for the 2022 season.

Guard lake sturgeon along Black River

lake sturgeon swimming above rocky river bottom

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.

The Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow is working in partnership with the DNR and tribes to protect the fish from being illegally harvested during the six-week spawning season and help preserve them when they are most vulnerable.

The lake sturgeon, which can weigh up to 200 pounds and live to be 100 years old, is listed as a threatened species in Michigan, with any sport fishing being closely regulated.

Volunteers are assigned shifts along the river to stand watch and report suspicious activity to the DNR conservation officers who also are patrolling. While volunteers will be assigned sites to stand guard, there will be on-site coordinators at the river to assist and answer questions. Additionally, volunteers are asked to assist in recording the number of fish active in the area.

Lake sturgeon rehabilitation has seen ongoing efforts at federal, state, tribal and local levels since the late 1900s, when the species dramatically declined due to overharvesting and habitat loss.

The monitoring activity, designed to protect the fish, is also an opportunity to get involved in natural resource management and has drawn volunteers ranging from families, church groups, Scouting groups and students to artists such as photographers.

Individuals or groups interested in volunteering should contact Jim and Mary Paulson at 989-763-7568. Volunteers also can register online or search online for Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Black Lake Chapter.

Do your part to protect the outdoors – and those who enjoy it

sign saying Take only pictures Leave only footprints

As more and more people head out into Michigan's great outdoors, it's critical that we all do our part to protect our places and resources so that everyone can continue to enjoy them now and for years to come.

A few things you can do to stay safe and protect the health and beauty of our state.

See more responsible recreation tips.

Share your commitment to #RecreateResponsibly by using the hashtag on social media.

Help the DNR 'plant it forward'

As part of the national Trillion Trees campaign, the DNR has pledged to plant 50 million trees by 2030 and aims to inspire people to join the effort. Want to help? Plant a tree and tell us about it! Add your tree to an interactive map and learn more about tree planting with our Mi Trees webpage.

Volunteer with Adopt-a-Forest

Volunteers are essential to helping keep forests clean and eliminate illegal dump sites that are ugly and harmful to wildlife. You can search for places in need of help, filtering by location and size, on our dumpsite map. Learn more and become a volunteer at Michigan.gov/AdoptaForest.

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!