DNR News: Big Tree Hunt, buggy videos, NRC meeting, things to do & more

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News Digest - Week of Aug. 7, 2023

A group of kayakers wearing lifejackets drift downstream.

Are you making the most of summer? Don't let it pass you by!

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 some of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: South Higgins sunburst

Bright sunlight breaks through a few tall, mature trees on a sandy shoreline campsite. A picnic table, overturned rowboat and two people are on shore

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Karen Allmond at South Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon 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.

The hunt is on! It's time to find Michigan's biggest trees

adult man in green T-shirt and tan shorts stands with his arms stretched out side to side in front of a massive tree that is much wider than him

Let’s talk about trees. Trees so big you can’t wrap your arms 'round them. Even if your friends help.

ReLeaf Michigan is seeking entries for the 16th Michigan Big Tree Hunt. The search for Michigan’s biggest trees happens every two years. It’s open to everyone and offers prizes to those who identify the biggest trees.

Michigan currently has five champion trees – the largest living specimens of their species – on the nationwide roster of big trees, with one being considered for registration. As recently as 2012, Michigan had 23 champion trees.

The biggest trees recorded in the Big Tree Hunt that ended in 2022 were both cottonwoods: A tree with a 308-inch circumference discovered by youth hunter Aidan Presnell in Washtenaw County, and a 301-inch tree reported by Mike Antoszewski and Paul Funk in Monroe County.

You don’t have to hunt hard for big trees – many are in common locations such as local parks, backyards or along hiking trails. The contest awards the largest tree submitted in each Michigan county as well as trees that represent the largest of their type. More than 650 trees were submitted for consideration during the last Big Tree Hunt, and more than 100 certificates and prizes were awarded to the people who discovered them.

Visit the Michigan Big Tree Hunt webpage for contest details and a list of 2022 winners, photo gallery and featured “Big Tree of the Week.” Paper entry forms will soon be available at many libraries and natural areas across the state.

New 'Buggin' Out' video series: the good, the bad, the buzzy

An adult spotted lanternfly, with black and white spotted wings and brilliant orange coloring underwing, rests in the palm of a hand.

For many, the first response to spotting an insect is to put as much distance as possible between it and us. While that's understandable, especially for something you're unfamiliar with, a lot of bugs and insects actually do a lot of good, helping our our environment, landscape and farming community.

To provide some fun information and education and give these bugs their due, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has launched a new video series – “Buggin’ Out” – which includes expert interviews from entomologists, pest management specialists, veterinarians and other scientists who love to talk about bugs.

“We’re excited to share our passion and insight on insects, what they can do to help our farmers, while educating and empowering Michiganders to take action against the spread of invasive species, to know how to combat pests in and around their home, and to gain a better understanding of the significant impact insects have on our lives,” said Mike Philip, director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. 

The first two episodes look at the benefits of butterflies, bees and other pollinators, and why it's important for everyone to learn how to contain the movement of the invasive spotted lanternfly:

“Buggin’ Out” is available now on MDARD’s YouTube channel and across the department’s social media platforms.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Grand Rapids

A fisherman enjoys an evening fishing from his boat.

A presentation on the DNR's approved 2024 operating budget, an update on several fisheries orders and regulations for warmwater species, the regular legislative report and several land transactions are just some of the agenda items for the Thursday, Aug. 10, meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences on the campus of Grand Valley State University, 333 Michigan St. NE, in Grand Rapids. Before the meeting, from 9 to 10 a.m., the public is invited to "Coffee with the Commissioners" – an opportunity to get to know commission members better in a less formal setting.

See the full draft meeting agenda and other commission details at Michigan.gov/NRC. Questions? Email NRC@Michigan.gov.


Paddle a lazy river, camp under the stars, step back in time at historic sites ... Endless outdoor possibilities are waiting; find your next adventure!


If you need a boating safety certificate, a research permit or other documentation, search our licenses, permits, grants and certificates webpage.


Want to show some TLC to your favorite places but aren't sure how to get started? Check out our volunteer opportunities and pick your passion! 

Download the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app