DNR News: Tree tips, safety smarts, March events and volunteer days

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News Digest - Week of Feb. 27, 2023

Rows of apple trees show off delicate, white-pink blossoms in early spring.

Spring will be here before you know it - plan for spring trees soon!

Here are just a few of this week's stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources: 

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

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

Photo ambassador snapshot: Pink on the precipice

A small child decked in pink winter gear stands on a bluff overlooking a wintry Great Lakes shoreline.

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Blair Celano at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon 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.

Plan now for spring tree planting

A person wearing sun gear gestures to a potted sapling.

Whether you want to provide dazzling fall color, attract backyard wildlife or benefit pollinators like bees and butterflies, picking the right trees for spring planting involves preparation. 

Important questions to ask when selecting the perfect tree for your space are: 

  • Will it thrive in your area’s growing zone?
  • Does it have specific water, light or soil needs that your site can support?
  • How big will it grow? Will roots or branches interfere with building foundations or power lines?
  • Is it native or non-native? A healthy mix of native trees provides the most benefits to insects and wildlife. 

Trees can be purchased from Michigan conservation district tree sales (search by individual district), seedling nurseries, the Arbor Day Foundation and local retail and wholesale vendors

When spring weather returns and you are ready to get a shovel in the dirt, make sure to call 811 or visit MISS DIG online first. Pros will mark utility lines for free so you can avoid making costly mistakes. 

Visit Michigan.gov/MiTrees to learn more about our pledge to plant 50 million trees by 2030. See where the DNR and your neighbors have planted trees and add your own to the statewide map.

For tree planting and care information, visit our Urban and Community Forestry webpage at Michigan.gov/UCF.

Traveling soon? Don't forget your recreational safety certificate

Two people wearing life jackets ride a jetski across a calm summer lake.

If you’re planning a spring break trip to a warmer destination and intend to rent a personal watercraft (such as a Jet Ski), don’t forget to take a copy of your Michigan boater safety certificate.

Safety certificates show you’ve completed a program meant to teach the fundamentals of safety for your chosen activity. Many states require this documentation before you can rent and/or operate a boat or personal watercraft. If you've misplaced your certificate, you can request a duplicate.

Don’t have a safety certificate? You can take recreational safety education courses online from the comfort of your home and at your own pace at Michigan.gov/RecreationalSafety. Questions? Email DNR-LED-RecSafety@Michigan.gov.

Outdoor skills classes, Lumberjack Run and many more events set for March

A runner decked out in red buffalo check flannel and suspenders grins at the camera while holding a finisher's medal triumphantly.

As we head into the home stretch of winter, March offers plenty of opportunities to keep cabin fever at bay and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources. For a full list of DNR events, visit Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar

Outdoor Skills Academy classes

Whether it’s getting started with a new outdoor pursuit or brushing up on skills and learning tips and tricks from the pros, the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy can help. The last installment of this winter’s Hard Water School – a two-day class focusing on ice fishing techniques for panfish, walleye and pike – is set for March 4-5 in Cadillac. Learn to weave a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes at the snowshoe making class at Ludington State Park March 11-12. Get strategies and techniques for chasing Michigan’s “chrome torpedoes” during the steelhead fishing clinic March 18-19, and get ready for spring turkey season with the turkey hunting clinic March 25 – both those classes will be held in Cadillac.

And don’t forget to sign up for the April 1 maple syrup clinic, in Cadillac.

See a full schedule of classes at Michigan.gov/OutdoorSkills.

Fun at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit

If you find yourself in southeast Michigan, check out some of the fun events for all ages at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit.

Meet live animals and explore a mobile classroom full of hands-on wildlife and nature activities with a presentation by Howell Nature Center and the Spirit of Alexandria Nature Bus, coming to the OAC March 4. Learn about the story of wild rice in Michigan with a visit by local author Barb Barton March 12. The OAC’s series of family hikes at state parks kicks off March 23. And don’t miss the chance to sport your best flannel apparel and lumberjack beard for the annual Lumberjack Pancake Run and Lumberjack Day March 25.

Those are just a few of the highlights. March also features a variety of other programs for kids, seniors and families – find more info on the Outdoor Adventure Center events calendar.

Public lands: Lots of ways to support, enjoy them

Two children, with two adults supervising, tend to an overgrown area.

Each month, the DNR offers a variety of opportunities to help take care of Michigan’s natural and cultural resources. Here are a few ways to get involved this March.

State park volunteer stewardship workdays

Several state parks in southern Michigan will host stewardship workdays, where volunteers are needed to help remove invasive plants that threaten high-quality ecosystems:

  • Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County – March 4 and 25.
  • Brighton Recreation Area in Livingston County – March 5.
  • Yankee Springs Recreation Area in Barry County – March 5 and 26.
  • Bald Mountain Recreation Area in Oakland County – March 11.
  • Waterloo Recreation Area in Jackson County – March 12.
  • Highland Recreation Area in Oakland County – March 18.
  • Fort Custer Recreation Area in Kalamazoo County – March 19.
  • Island Lake Recreation Area in Livingston County – March 19.
  • Belle Isle Park in Wayne County – March 25.
  • Pinckney Recreation Area in Washtenaw County – March 26.

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

Input on latest state land review recommendations

The DNR is hosting virtual public meetings March 1 and 2 to provide information on the state land review process and opportunities for feedback on recommendations on whether to keep, exchange or sell DNR-managed public land in 11 counties: Cheboygan, Crawford, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Muskegon, Osceola, Otsego and Ottawa.

The state land review process – which involves DNR-managed lands 200 acres or less in size or that, due to an irregular boundary, may be difficult to manage – stems from the DNR public land strategy and determines whether these parcels are contributing strongly to the department’s mission.

Visit the DNR’s land review webpage for more information on how to participate.

On the Ground habitat improvement projects

On the Ground, Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ volunteer wildlife habitat improvement program, will host two stewardship workdays in March. Volunteers are needed March 4 to help enhance habitat and boost fish populations at Au Train Lake in Alger County, and March 24 to help cut invasive vegetation and create brush piles to provide habitat for a variety of wildlife at Edmore State Game Area in Montcalm County.

Find more details and register for these events at MUCC.org/on-the-ground.

For more opportunities to volunteer, contribute and provide input, visit Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers


Want to keep up with the work of conservation officers and other DNR pros Michigan? Check out the newest episode of 'Wardens' on the Outdoor Channel.


Some of Michigan's outdoor recreation seasons and license periods renew in spring; now is a good time to plan ahead for your next adventure!


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.

Download the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app