DNR Events: Night sky photography, Underground Railroad heritage, more

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DNR Events - September 2022

Photo of the Northern Lights over lake by Shawn Malone

Photo by Shawn Malone

Here are a few ways to get out and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources in September. For a full list of events, see the Department of Natural Resources calendar at Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar

Learn about night sky photography, gardening for pollinators, waterfowl hunting

monarch butterfly on white wildflowers

There’s still time to sign up for Outdoor Skills Academy classes happening around the state in September. Check out the following offerings:

Night Sky Photography at the Porkies

Two sessions to choose from: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, or Saturday, Sept. 17
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Visitor Center, Ontonagon

Join Marquette photographer Shawn Malone for an evening of night sky photography at the Porkies, at either the Lake of the Clouds overview to photograph the Milky Way over the ridgeline or along the Union Bay beach if the northern lights are present. Covering DSLR/mirrorless camera bodies, this class will include a one-hour classroom session that leads to a three-hour, hands-on learning session at an outdoor location. For ages 18 and older. Cost is $95 per person.

Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Beneficial Insects

9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 17
Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center at Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon

Want to attract more butterflies, other beneficial insects and birds to your yard but don’t know where to start? This class will cover the basics, including common pollinators and their needs, site selection, plant selection, nonfood design elements and best practices for seasonal garden cleanup. The focus will be on native plants, but we will also highlight annuals that add color to your garden and benefit butterflies, insects and birds. All participants will receive a pollinator packet with pamphlets from Michigan Audubon, a native plant growers list, plant lists and other references.  The class will include a tour of the Gillette Visitor Center butterfly garden to look at native plants that successfully draw wildlife. Cost is $35, which includes all materials.

Waterfowl Hunting Clinic

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center at Mitchell State Park, Cadillac

Joe Duncan of Daggs Custom Calls, state champion caller, will lead this “A to Z” class on how to hunt waterfowl. It will cover everything you need to know to get started, including how to find a location, scouting, calling and gear. The class will run four to five hours, beginning in the classroom and then moving to the hiking trails around the center to demonstrate setting up hunting sites and decoys, calling and more. All students will leave with firsthand experience that will increase their chances for success this upcoming waterfowl season. Cost is $30, which includes lunch.

The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy offers in-depth, expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of outdoor activities at locations around the state. Learn more at Michigan.gov/OutdoorSkills.

Check out the nightlife at state parks

Old Baldy trail lit up at night

Several state park events will take place after the sun goes down in September. Evening programs around the state include:

Twilight Yoga
6:45 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15
Maybury State Park, Northville

Join us for a free twilight yoga event, a unique practice that will take place after the sunset under the sky full of stars. This practice is for everyone, whether a new or seasoned yogi. We will breathe, we will move and most importantly, we will have tons of healthy fun! Yoga mats provided. 

A Paranormal Event
7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17
Fayette State Park, Garden

Ever wonder what a paranormal investigator does? Does the thought of apparitions give you a chill or a sense of wonder? Come join us for two full nights of unearthly surprises and learning! Learn how to become a member of a paranormal team and participate in a real investigation. Investigations will occur at various times each night from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Preregistration is required.

Luminous Trail
8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17
Mears State Park, Pentwater

For two nights only, the Old Baldy trail will be lit up for a wondrous night hike. Camping reservations are encouraged, and campers are encouraged to light up their campsite and join in the "glow."

Astronomy at the Beach
4 p.m. to midnight, Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17
Island Lake Recreation Area, Brighton

Michigan's largest free astronomy event, brought to you by Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs. Learn about astronomy, space science and imaging technology. The various live shows will be interactive, allowing viewers to ask questions and participate in the discussion. Live telescope viewing starts at 4 p.m. with solar observing, then picks back up again at 8 p.m. and goes until midnight with 60-plus telescopes. See sunspots, prominences, Saturn's spectacular rings, Jupiter and its moons, stars birthing and dying, and maybe even another galaxy! Arrive early for close parking.

Explore history and legacy of Underground Railroad in Michigan, celebrate 200th anniversary of Lenawee County

Underground Railroad monument in Battle Creek

Discover and learn more about some of our state’s unique stories with upcoming events hosted by the Michigan History Center.

Annual Heritage Gathering

In commemoration of International Underground Railroad Month in September, the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission and the Michigan History Center present their fifth annual Heritage Gathering, a series of virtual programs and an in-person conference.

This year’s events are built around the theme “Underground Railroad Descendants: Sharing the Stories" – and there are endless accounts about our state’s importance to this secret network that aided thousands of people on their journey to freedom. For many, Detroit was the last stop before making their way to a free life in Canada.

The keystone event is an in-person conference Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Michigan History Center in Lansing. It features national speakers – like author Anna-Lisa Cox – and discussions on black farming settlements, the significance of the year 1862, Underground Railroad tourism, and researching at the Michigan History Center's Archives of Michigan. See the 2022 Heritage Gathering conference agenda.

Cost for the daylong conference is $12 and includes lunch. Register for the Sept. 17 in-person conference.

A free virtual program is also set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. Hear from two Underground Railroad descendants – Leslie Williams, a descendant of William Webb, will share the impact of Webb’s life, while James Faris will present his unique ancestral connection to the Freedom Trail. Register for the Sept. 22 virtual program.

Lenawee County bicentennial celebration

Join the Lucy Wolcott Barnum Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for a ceremony and celebration in honor of the 200th anniversary of Lenawee County, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at Cambridge Junction Historic State Park in Brooklyn. The group will dedicate a bronze plaque on a boulder at the state park to commemorate the bicentennial in much the same fashion that the DAR did in 1922 for the county's centennial. Come enjoy history, music, costumed interpreters and, of course, Walker Tavern's famous root beer.

Learn more about the Michigan History Center and its 12 museums and historic sites across the state at Michigan.gov/MHC.

Learn how to kayak at RAM Center class

Learn the fundamentals of kayak paddling, trip planning and recreating in Michigan’s many freshwater ecosystems with Kayaking 101 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon Sept. 19 or 26. This four-hour class includes fun paddling practice and nature activities, plus lunch! Classes are free, and the optional lunch is $14.

Join BOW archery deer hunting workshop

The DNR’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program will offer a “Beyond BOW” archery deer hunting workshop, at Watkins Lake State Park Preserve in Manchester, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, for women who have no previous hunting experience or want to expand their skills. Cost is $100, which includes lunch Friday and Saturday. Register by Sept. 16.

Download the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app