DNR News Digest – Week of May 10, 2021

DNR News Digest – Week of May 10, 2021

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News Digest – Week of May 10, 2021

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Found a fawn in your backyard? Leave it alone – its mother is likely close by.

Some of this week’s stories may reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customers’ needs and protect public health and safety. We will continue to share news and information about the best ways to enjoy our state’s natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on access to facilities and programs. For public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s stories from the 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 additional ones, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Highland hike

photo ambassadorWant to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Samantha Hageman at Highland Recreation Area in Oakland County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

Found a fawn in your backyard? Leave it be

fawnYou might be surprised to find a fawn alone in a quiet spot in your backyard, neighborhood or local park, and while it seems like an unusual spot for a baby to be, chances are its mother is close by.

“For the first few weeks of a white-tailed fawn’s life, the mother will hide it in secluded locations to keep predators from finding it,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator with the DNR. “Predators are less likely to hang out near people’s homes, so for a mama deer it seems like a safe place to hide her baby.”

While fawns may seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way.

“A fawn’s spots provide excellent camouflage and help it stay hidden from predators,” said Schauer.

If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it! The mother will return periodically to nurse her fawn when she feels it is safe.

Schauer said the best thing to do is to leave the fawn alone and enjoy the wildlife viewing experience from a distance. Leaving baby animals in the wild ensures they have the best chance for survival and helps keep Michigan’s wildlife wild.

Learn more by watching the video Finding fawns in Michigan.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.

Get tips about what to do if you find a baby animal in the wild and find a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators at Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Explore a Wetland Wonder and win

wetland swansMay is American Wetlands Month, and what better way to mark the moment than to get out and explore one of Michigan’s Wetland Wonders? From Portage Marsh State Wildlife Management Area in the Upper Peninsula to Pointe Mouillee State Game Area just 25 miles from the Ohio border, Michigan’s Wetland Wonders provide year-round recreation opportunities like birding, boating, fishing, hiking, photography and hunting.

Taking a trip to a Wetland Wonder? Share a selfie by the game or wildlife area sign and you could win a $1,000 gift card for outdoor gear! The Explore MI Wetland Wonders challenge is sponsored by Consumers Energy with contest partners MI Birds and Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

To be entered in the prize drawing, email your photo, along with your name, email address, phone number and mailing address, to DNR-WetlandWonders@Michigan.gov by July 16. The more Wetland Wonders you visit, the more chances you have to win! Each one you visit gives you one more chance in the drawing.

Four lucky winners will be randomly drawn July 23. All four will receive a Cabela’s gift card in varying amounts. The grand prizewinner will take home $1,000; the second, $750; the third, $500; and the fourth, $250.

Michigan’s Wetland Wonders provide high-quality wetlands for waterfowl and waterbirds while providing great outdoor recreation opportunities. These areas are funded by hunting license fees, but they are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.

When visiting a Wetland Wonders site, remember to be safe and mask up if you’re not fully vaccinated or with people from outside your household. Have a great time and enjoy Michigan’s abundant wildlife!

Visit Michigan.gov/WetlandWonders for full contest rules, locations and for more information about Michigan’s awesome Wetland Wonders.

Questions? Contact Holly Vaughn at 248-881-9429.

Happy Little Virtual 5K wraps up with big response

HLTInspired by Bob Ross’ love of the outdoors, more than 18,000 people took part in this year’s Happy Little Virtual 5K late last month between Earth Day and Arbor Day.

The tree-planting program – where seeds are placed in the care of inmates in one of Michigan Department of Correction’s education programs – began in 2004, but grew into the “Happy Little Trees” program in 2019 during the Michigan state parks centennial, when the DNR Parks and Recreation Division and Bob Ross Inc. partnered on programming to help raise awareness of tree-planting and forest protection efforts in state parks.

The program began with hundreds of volunteers helping to plant “happy little trees” at locations hard-hit by invasive pests and tree diseases, but the partnership quickly expanded to include thousands of runners and walkers raising awareness and funding for stewardship efforts through the Run for the Trees/Happy Little Virtual 5K.

Race proceeds support tree-planting and forest protection efforts – such as invasive plant and forest pest management and early detection surveys – in Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Many of these locations have been affected by tree pests and diseases like emerald ash borer and oak wilt.

This year’s Happy Little Virtual 5K welcomed 18,089 participants, 70% of which hailed from Michigan, followed next by Ohio and Wisconsin. All 50 states were represented, and 150 people participated internationally from England, Australia and Mexico.

Participants completed their 5K anywhere outdoors anytime between April 22-30. For $34 per person, each participant received a keepsake Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and a finisher’s medal featuring a reproduction of a real Bob Ross painting. This year’s race raised $305,000 for tree-planting and forest protection efforts in state parks.

The program has produced more than 100,000 native plants, shrubs and trees since its start in 2004. With support from the Bob Ross partnership, more than 2,100 trees have been planted in 20 state parks across Michigan. The U.S. Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Chateau Grand Traverse also have provided significant support for the program.

“Over the past two years, this Bob Ross-inspired event has generated more than $600,000 for tree planting and efforts to protect forests in state parks,” said Michelle O’Kelly, fund developer and Happy Little Trees race director for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Though the race takes place in the short window between Earth Day and Arbor Day, the positive impact on Michigan’s ‘Happy Little Trees’ will be felt for many years – and many trees – to come.”

Learn more about the program at Michigan.gov/DNRHappyLittleTrees.

Questions? Contact Michelle O’Kelly at 517-881-5884.


Looking for your next adventure? Go local with Your Local Outdoors. Find recreation opportunities right at your doorstep.


Bear and elk hunting applications are now on sale – but don’t wait, the application period closes June 1. Drawing results will go live July 6.


If you’re itching to get out into the woods and do some good, join the Adopt-a-Forest program. Help keep our forests clean for all.

Stay informed, stay safe: Mask up MichiganDNR COVID-19 response

Gilchrist Receives Second Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

Gilchrist Receives Second Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine



May 10, 2021

Contact: Press@Michigan.gov


PHOTOS: Lt. Governor Gilchrist Receives Second Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine During First Stop of ‘Making Real Change’ Tour


LANSING, Mich. — Today, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist received a second dose of the safe and effective Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the community vaccine site at Berston Field House in Flint, where he launched the ‘Making Real Change’ tour to promote vaccinations in cities across the state.


“I am proud to have received my second dose of the safe and effective vaccine, so that my loved ones and I will be fully protected against COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist. “This virus has disproportionally harmed Black Michiganders and other people of color across the state, and we must continue to be vigilant in our pandemic response to address the specific needs of these communities. That is why I am launching the Making Real Change tour, to highlight easy, equitable vaccine access; encourage people who may still be hesitant to get the safe, effective vaccine; and equip everyone who has been vaccinated with the information and resources they need to tell their stories in a way that leads to more people choosing to get vaccinated. The best thing all of us  can do to protect ourselves, our families, and neighbors is to get vaccinated, so we can get back to doing the things we love together.”


The ‘Making Real Change’ tour will highlight the administration’s continued efforts to flatten and eliminate racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on what the state has learned to apply those lessons to equitably administering vaccines; and what the state doing to build the resilience required to close racial disparities in health and other areas within communities.


The Making Real Change Tour will also make stops in Saginaw, Grand Rapids, and Detroit.


To date, the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities has focused on two goals: one to reduce the disparities in the mortality rate of COVID-19, and the second to connect those interventions to more extended term efforts. Additionally, this task force has worked to close the digital divide in telehealth and remote learning, launched a “Get Covered” campaign to make a coordinated push for every Michigander to sign up for health insurance, increased mobile testing infrastructure, which has transitioned seamlessly into vaccine administration and provided guidance to health care professionals on avoiding implicit bias.


The task force was created per Executive Order 2020-55, and acts in an advisory capacity to Governor Whitmer. It studies the causes of racial disparities and recommends actions to address the historical and systemic inequities.








AG Joins Series of Multistate Efforts

AG Joins Series of Multistate Efforts

Attorney General Dana Nessel

Media Contact:

Lynsey Mukomel 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Attorney General Nessel Joins Series of Multistate Efforts

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to join attorneys general from around the nation in a number of multistate actions, including the following:

Letter Urging Congress to Pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 

On May 6, Nessel joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. The legislation is aimed at combatting the high Black maternal mortality rate and increasing access to maternal and perinatal care.

The coalition is highlighting the need to advance health equity across the country for all racial and ethnic minorities – especially Black mothers. The coalition issued a letter yesterday to Congressional leadership calling on Congress to pass H.R. 959, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. This legislative package addresses the social determinants of the Black maternal mortality crisis, including improving access to housing, transportation and nutrition services.

“Our nation has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, with significantly higher rates of mortality for Black mothers,” Nessel said. “Race based discrimination in our healthcare system cannot be tolerated, and I urge Congress to act now and pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act so that every mother and child has access to quality health care.”

The Momnibus Act is intended to help decrease maternal mortality among Black mothers, who die at a rate three to four times higher than white mothers. Similarly, Native American, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women are more likely to face maternal mortality than white women and non-Hispanic women. Many risk factors contribute to increased rates of maternal mortality, including preexisting conditions, socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and implicit bias and discrimination in health care.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 addresses maternal mortality by ensuring women have access to equitable care at all stages of pregnancy. The legislative package is comprised of 12 bills that address the crisis through a multifaceted approach of increased grant funding, enhanced data collection and improving community programs. By specifically addressing the social determinants of health, the package aims to reduce maternal mortality by providing funding to community-based maternal health organizations; diversifying the perinatal workforce; supporting mothers and improving maternal health care for individuals with mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, and those who are incarcerated; enhancing postpartum care; and promoting maternal health innovation such as telehealth, maternal vaccinations, and payment options from pregnancy through the postpartum period.

If passed, the policy changes would benefit individual state programs by increasing funding, furthering access to community supports and enhancing education services for mothers. More broadly, the legislation would assist state attorneys general in working to protect residents against race-based discrimination within the health care system.

Letter to Treasury Regarding Law Enforcement Access to Database 

On May 6, Nessel joined the National Association of Attorney General (NAAG) in submitting comments to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, in response to its request for input regarding beneficial ownership information reporting and disclosure requirements.

Earlier this year, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) was passed. The CTA requires certain companies to disclose their actual, or “beneficial,” owners to FinCEN. FinCEN will then maintain that ownership information in a database and disclose it to government agencies and financial institutions, subject to appropriate protocols. State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, including state attorneys general offices, must obtain court authorization to access this beneficial ownership data—a step not required for federal agencies.

In their letter, the attorneys general:

  • Emphasize the need to ensure state, local, and tribal enforcers have timely and efficient access to beneficial ownership information.
  • Encourage continued engagement about the development of CTA-related regulations with attorneys general, with NAAG serving as a liaison.
  • Urge FinCEN to develop regulations that permit the beneficial ownership information to be used as evidence and provided to the defense, particularly when necessary for prosecutors to discharge their discovery and disclosure obligations.

In 2020, 42 attorneys general supported the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act, which was similar to the CTA. However, unlike the CTA, the ILLICIT Cash Act placed federal and state enforcers on equal footing to obtain beneficial ownership information.

MDHHS names Dr. Alexis Travis as senior deputy director

MDHHS names Dr. Alexis Travis as senior deputy director

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Press Release


CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112, WuthC@michigan.gov

MDHHS names Dr. Alexis Travis as senior deputy
director for the Public Health Administration

LANSING, Mich. – Dr. Alexis Travis has been named the new senior deputy director for the Public Health Administration at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and will start on May 30.

Travis joined MDHHS in 2018 and most recently served as senior deputy director of MDHHS’s Aging & Adult Services Agency (AASA), where she provided statewide leadership, direction, and resources to support Michigan’s aging, adult services, and disability networks. In this role she advanced health equity for older adults and led efforts to address the need to expand the direct care workforce. She led AASA in Michigan to become the fifth state in the nation and first in the Midwest to join the World Health Organization and AARP age-friendly initiative. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Travis worked with the AASA team and the state’s aging network to launch many innovative programs to address food insecurity, social isolation and support risk mitigation in one of the highest risk populations of older adults in Michigan.

Prior to that to her work with AASA, Travis served as director of MDHHS’s Bureau of Health and Wellness within the Population Health Administration where she managed the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control and the Division of HIV and STD Programs. In that role, she collaborated with stakeholders to develop a state dementia plan and established a state-level public health workgroup on healthy aging, which she continues to lead.

As senior deputy director of public health, Travis will oversee the Bureau of Laboratories, Bureau of Epidemiology and Public Health, Bureau of Health and Wellness, Bureau of Infectious Disease Prevention and the Bureau of EMS, Trauma, and Preparedness. She will work with local, state, and federal partners to develop and implement public health policies. Dr. Travis will continue to report to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who will continue in her role as chief deputy director of health and chief medical executive for MDHHS.

“Dr. Travis is a champion of public health and has driven measurable positive change in her time at MDHHS. She continues to be an integral asset in reducing health disparities and increasing health equity for Michiganders,” said MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel. “She is well-suited to develop strategies and programs to promote the health of Michiganders, and we’re excited to have her in this role.”

Travis holds a doctorate in public health from Walden University in Minnesota, a master’s degree of pharmacy with honors from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom and was a participant in the Socrates/Erasmus Student Exchange Program at the University of Salamanca in Spain. She is a graduate of the Local Public Health Institute of Massachusetts/Boston University School of Public Health Managing Effectively in Today’s Public Health Environment Class of 2017.

state’s first environmental justice conference May 18-20

state’s first environmental justice conference May 18-20

EGLE Main GovD banner
May 7, 2021
Jill A. Greenberg, EGLE spokesperson, GreenbergJ@Michigan.gov, 517-897-4965
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

White House, EPA leaders to join Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Gilchrist for state’s first environmental justice conference May 18-20

Event to focus on rebuilding trust, reimagining justice and removing barriers

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan will address a new federal focus on environmental justice and the connection to state efforts during the inaugural Michigan Environmental Justice Conference, set for May 18-20.

The three-day virtual conference will feature environmental justice experts, advocates, and business leaders, as well as government officials. It is free to attend, but registration is required.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and EPA Administrator Regan will jointly launch the conference at the opening plenary.  Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist will serve as the second-day keynote speaker focusing on the intersection of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities work and environmental justice in Michigan. White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Mallory will serve as the keynote speaker at the closing plenary. Mallory leads the Biden administration’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council.

Local and national environmental justice advocates will also take part in the conference, including: Dr. Robert Bullard, known as the father of environmental justice, and U.S. EPA Senior Environmental Justice Advisor Charles Lee. Members of the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (MAC EJ) will also take part.

According to Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), this conference will play an important role in our work toward addressing environmental justice challenges.

“This conference is the latest step in our coordinated efforts led by the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate to move Michigan toward achieving environmental justice,” Clark said. “The governor prioritized environmental justice when she first took office in 2019. This hard work continues across state departments and in collaboration with our environmental justice advisory council and the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team. I encourage those who want to play a role in ensuring that everyone has equitable access to join us for this three-day event.”

The conference’s theme is “Rebuilding Trust, Reimagining Justice and Removing Barriers.” It is hosted by the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, the Michigan Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team and EGLE.

Nearly 1,000 people already have signed up to attend the event, designed to examine long-standing challenges facing environmental justice communities while addressing systemic inequities.

“Intentional dialogue will help us move forward in the quest for transformative change, meaningful engagement and the development of intersectional solutions as we work to address environmental injustices and ensure that no community in this state is adversely affected by our environmental laws and regulations,” said Regina Strong, Environmental Justice Public Advocate. I am excited to see the interest in working across all levels of government and hand-in-hand with community to advance environmental justice. This conference offers a unique opportunity for us to examine ways to take action as we work to rebuild trust, reimagine justice and remove barriers.”

The Michigan Environmental Justice Conference will feature sessions on a wide range of topics including federal and state priorities, climate and equity, tribal perspectives, the future of infrastructure, and a community town hall.

For those interested in attending, register for the conference, and find more information including an event agenda.

The event is open to the public, including environmental justice advocates, community members, government representatives, academia, change agents and the business sector.

The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate was created by Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2019-06 to serve as an external and internal advocate and catalyst for ensuring environmental justice throughout the state. The Office operates as a Type I agency within EGLE, with a direct line to the governor’s office to elevate concerns and coordinate across state government. The Office also works to address and resolve environmental justice concerns and complaints and advance environmental justice and equity in Michigan.