DNR News: Harvest festivals, fall firewood, tree stand safety, volunteering and more

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News Digest - Week of Sept. 4, 2023

A group of campers sitz by a fire under a night sky filled with stars (stock photo)

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.

Stock up on firewood for cozy, starry fall nights

A man in safety gear uses a chainsaw to cut fallen branches

Missing your favorite flannel shirt in the back of your closet? Before you know it, cooler weather will arrive, bringing opportunities to enjoy your flannel along with flickering bonfires under the stars. With a $20 fuelwood permit, you can collect firewood for your campfires or to warm your winter woodstove.

A fuelwood permit allows users to gather dead and downed wood from designated state forest areas, primarily located in the northern two-thirds of Michigan, for up to 90 days. All permits expire Dec. 31. Purchase permits online through DNR eLicense or in person at select office locations.

Fuelwood permits are for personal use, apply to one household and allow for gathering of up to five cords of wood. A cord of wood is 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high.

If you plan to harvest firewood, choose the location nearest to you to reduce the impact of potentially spreading invasive species through diseased or infested wood. Cleaning equipment between uses also helps prevent invasive species' spread.

If you'll be camping this fall, remember to leave firewood at home. Purchase what you need from a local vendor near your campsite or choose certified, heat-treated wood. These healthy firewood choices help prevent the introduction of invasive tree pests and diseases that can kill native trees in campgrounds.

See available state forest collection locations, learn about collection rules and find related information at Michigan.gov/Fuelwood. Get tips for safe and efficient wood burning from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Burn Wise program.

For fuelwood collection in federally managed forests, find details on your nearest national forest website: Hiawatha National Forest, Huron-Manistee National Forest or Ottawa National Forest.

Questions? Contact DNR timber program forester Jake Reid at 517-284-5908.

Fall fun, festivities fill September calendar

a young man wearing a cap shows a young boy how to hold and set a bow and arrow outdoors

Hints of autumn are in the air, and we’re getting in the spirit with several ways to enjoy and experience Michigan’s natural and cultural resources this month! Find a full list of events at Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar.

Many Michigan state parks will host fall harvest festivals – with hay rides, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, costume contests, haunted trails, nature programs and horse-drawn carriage rides and other family-friendly activities – starting in September. Activities in state park campgrounds are typically open only to registered campers, but some parks also offer events for all visitors to enjoy.

Lake Hudson Recreation Area in Lenawee County will host the Great Outdoors Jamboree Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn about and try a variety of outdoor recreation activities, including shooting, archery, birding, fishing, boating, habitats, camping and more. The first 50 grandparents with a grandchild get a special gift.

Several fun fall evenings outdoors are also on tap:

a twisting wooden stairway goes down into a forested area. The stairway and trees are lit in darkness by blue, green, purple and white lights
  • Stop by Cambridge Junction Historic State Park in Lenawee County for an Evening Prairie Stroll, with music, candles and root beer at Walker Tavern Sept. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 15 and 16, from 8 to 10:30 p.m., the Old Baldy Trail at Mears State Park in Oceana County will be lit up for the Luminous Trail, a wondrous night hike experience.
  • Also Sept. 15 and 16, learn how to become a member of a paranormal team and participate in a real investigation during A Paranormal Event at Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County. Investigations will occur at various times each night from 7 to 11 p.m.; preregistration is required.
  • Observe stars and planets through telescopes during the Harvest Moon Star Party at Maybury State Park in Wayne County, Sept. 30 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy an art-themed, aquatic health-focused weekend getaway with a murder-mystery twist during Lodge and Learn: Nature's Palette at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon Sept. 29-20. It features a Bob Ross painting class and a chance to learn about Michigan fish species, aquatic health and what you can do to be a better steward. The weekend also includes a micro-murder mystery and opportunities for kayaking and exploring 8 miles of trails.

September is National Tree Stand Safety month

a young boy in hunting camo sits strapped into a tree stand, holding a bow. Arrows in a quiver are hooked to the tree.

Hunting from an elevated tree stand is a fairly common way to hunt, but there are a few more things to think about when it comes to staying safe.

With many game seasons in Michigan opening in September – National Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month – it's the perfect time to brush up on what you need to know about hunting from a tree. A few things to remember: 

  • Always maintain three points of contact (one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot) when climbing up to or down from the stand.
  • Wear a full-body harness that is properly attached above your head.
  • Ensure your tree stand is securely attached and stable before using it.
  • Use a haul line to get your hunting gear to and from the stand.

Watch this short tree stand safety video for more good ideas.

Tree stands placed on public land must be labeled with the hunter’s information in legible English that can be easily read from the ground and include one of the following three options: the hunter's name and address, their driver's license number or their DNR Sportcard number. 

During every hunt, make safety your top priority. Need a refresher? The DNR's hunter education program teaches tree stand safety, firearm handling, first aid and other important skills.

Visit Michigan.gov/HunterEducation to locate a hunter safety course in your area or read more safety tips.

Detroit Auto Show 5K Run/Walk returns Sept. 16

the color logo of the Detroit Auto Show 5K, with a red, yellow and blue rendering of a car going fast, and gray T-shirt with same image

If your mid-September plans include time in metro Detroit, be sure to check out the Auto Show 5K Saturday, Sept. 16.

You'll enjoy an early-fall morning of walking or running with family and friends, plus a sneak peek of North American International Detroit Auto Show vehicles positioned near the starting line.

Returning after a four-year hiatus, this event is hosted by the DNR, the Auto Show and the Friends of the Outdoor Adventure Center. All event proceeds will help update the exhibits at the OAC.

“What better way to kick off the Detroit Auto Show than with a high-energy event like the Auto Show 5K,” said Thad Szott, chairman of the 2023 Detroit Auto Show. “We’re delighted to see its return and are ready to celebrate cars and cardio with our friends at the Outdoor Adventure Center and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and with all the families who participate and visit the auto show.”

Event details

  • The race starts at 9 a.m. at the Outdoor Adventure Center, with race day parking free in the center’s lot off Atwater Street. The race route takes runners and walkers along the Dequindre Cut.
  • Early packet pickup is 3-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at the OAC. Race day packet pickup is also at the center, one hour before the race start time.
  • Awards will be given to first place overall, and first place for each age group thereafter.
  • Cardio and cars: A few Auto Show vehicles will be parked near the race start for early viewing. Race participants can purchase Auto Show tickets (public days) at a discount of 25% off regular pricing.
  • Sweet swag: a commemorative T-shirt and finisher medal are included with registration.

Grab your running and walking buddies and register for the race today! If you're interested in signing up to volunteer at the event, we’d love your help!

Questions? Contact Michelle O’Kelly at 517-899-5211.

Lots of opportunities to support conservation this month

a group of men and women in jeans and T-shirts, holding green garbage bags, walk single file down a forested trail

Volunteers play a huge role in helping the DNR take care of Michigan’s natural and cultural resources. Following are a few opportunities to get involved throughout September.

For more ideas on how to volunteer, contribute and provide input, visit Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers.

Pitch in at 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. Workdays will take place at:

  • Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County),10 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 8, and Friday, Sept. 29.
  • Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 9, and Sunday, Sept. 24.
  • Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 30.
  • Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17.
  • Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County), 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 23.
  • Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24.
  • Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1.

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center in Van Buren County also will host volunteer stewardship workdays this month, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 6 and Sept. 20. Volunteers will help with invasive species removal, trail and visitor center maintenance, seed collections and much more.

Get more details about each workday and registration on the DNR volunteer events calendar.

Improve wildlife habitat with MUCC On the Ground

two men, one with a shovel and the other kneeling, plant a tree in a wide open field area. A DNR pickup truck is parked in the background

On the Ground, Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ volunteer wildlife habitat improvement program in partnership with the DNR, offers several upcoming projects, including:

  • Saturday, Sept. 9, 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers are needed to help remove invasive woody vegetation at Gourdneck State Game Area in Kalamazoo County, part of an effort to restore a unique prairie fen habitat in the area.
  • Help install a native pollinator garden at Kellogg Community College in Calhoun County Wednesday, Sept. 13, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Join the MUCC and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to plant oak and apple trees in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in Otsego County Saturday, Sept. 23, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Find more details and registration info on the On the Ground webpage.

Give input on your state forests

Prescribed burns, timber harvests and other activities are carefully planned to keep Michigan’s nearly 4 million acres of state forest thriving. Plans for these activities are currently being made for 2025, but public input is welcome now.

Find out what activities are planned and how to share your feedback at Michigan.gov/ForestInput. You can submit online comments during designated 30-day periods or attend an open house or compartment review meeting, where plans are finalized. See all scheduled comment periods, open houses and compartment review meetings for the 2023 season.


Ready for fall fishing? Visit the DNR's fishing webpage for all the information you need on licenses, seasons, locations and more.


Want to gift someone the ultimate hunt package? Pick up Pure Michigan Hunt applications for the hunters in your life! 


Share your knowledge and passion as a volunteer instructor in hunter education and boating, snowmobile and ORV safety.

Download the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app