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News Digest – Week of May 24, 2021

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Memorial Day is this weekend! Enjoy the holiday safely with these tips.

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: A day at Duck Lake

duck lake state parkWant to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Karen Farrell at Duck Lake State Park in Muskegon 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.

Remember these ‘safety smarts’ for a great holiday weekend


Stop fires before they start

Grilling, campfires and outdoor fun? Yes, please! But before hitting state forest roads on your ORV, lighting a cozy campfire or using power equipment, do a quick safety check.

“About 12% of fires DNR firefighters responded to over the last 10 years were started by equipment,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist. “Don’t let chains scrape on pavement where they can cause sparks and avoid driving or parking hot equipment over dry grasses.”

Keep these safety tips in mind while grilling:

  • Keep your grill on a hard, level surface so spills and sparks don’t stray.
  • On gas grills, check for leaks by brushing a little soapy water on connection points and watching for telltale bubbles.
  • For charcoal grills, start charcoal with tinder in a chimney or with just a bit of lighter fluid – never volatile fuels like gasoline or kerosene.
  • Spent coals should be emptied into a metal bucket or other non-flammable container; it’s best to wait until they’re cold.
  • Prevent a nasty grease fire with both types of grills by making sure the tray is clean before you start.

With any fire, keep a water source and a shovel nearby in case of emergency. Never leave a fire unattended, even for a moment. Before lighting yard waste, visit Michigan.gov/BurnPermit to see if open burning is permitted when and where you want to burn.

Get fire safety tips at Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires or contact Paul Rogers at 616-260-8406.


Respect the water

Swimming, paddling and boating Michigan waters are big summer pastimes, but too often end in preventable tragedy. Of the 181 boating accidents reported to the DNR in 2020, there were 33 fatalities. Of those, only seven people were wearing life jackets.

“Even experienced boaters and swimmers can run into trouble,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR state boating law administrator and recreational safety, education and enforcement supervisor. “Having the proper equipment can make a huge difference on the water. High waters can create additional safety concerns. Always make sure you’re prepared.”

Before you leave shore or enter the water:

  • Complete a boater safety education course.
  • Check that your vessel is operating properly and equipped with emergency essentials including life jackets, a fire extinguisher, two-way communication device, tow lines and a first-aid kit.
  • Keep an eye out for high water, which can cause wakes that overflow onto land or docks, easily knocking someone over.
  • Take extra caution when swimming, boating or fishing. High water levels can cause stronger, faster currents (especially around river outlets and piers), deeper and colder water, unpredictable conditions and more debris floating under the water’s surface.
  • Pay attention to the beach flag warning system at state park swim areas and frequently check for updated warnings; conditions can quickly change. Red flags indicate the water is unsafe and no one should enter the water.

Read more about boating safety tips at Michigan.gov/Boating. For more tips on staying safe on the beach, visit Michigan.gov/BeachSafety.

Questions? Contact Katie Gervasi at [email protected].


“Ride Right” on off-road vehicles

Keeping off-road vehicles on designated trails and routes is important throughout the entire season. Going off designated trails can cause irreparable damage to these areas.

No matter where you are:

  • Always ride on the right side of the trail.
  • Have your ORV safety certificate, license and trail permit.
  • Wear proper safety gear.
  • Don’t ride under the influence or at excessive speeds, and don’t let minors operate an ORV unsupervised.

Learn more about the most frequent ORV violations conservation officers encounter, plus how to avoid them.

For more information on maps, safety and how to “Ride Right,” visit Michigan.gov/ORVInfo.

Questions? Contact the DNR Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement Team.

trail sign

Treat the trails right

Enjoying the trails on foot or bike? Remember that using muddy trails can cause erosion and safety issues.

Avoid using trails that are muddy so you don’t leave uneven footprints or tire tracks.

If you must traverse a muddy trail, go right through the center of the trail, rather than the sides, to avoid unintentionally widening the trail.

Check out trail etiquette for hiking, ORV and more. Help keep the trails safe for everyone.

Questions? Contact Dakota Hewlett at 517-331-0280.

Plan a birding trip to Michigan’s GEMS

GEMSSpringtime in northern Michigan is bursting with colorful flora and fauna. To spot the vibrant plumage of an American redstart, golden-winged warbler or indigo bunting, plan a trip to one of Michigan’s 19 Grouse Enhanced Management Sites!

GEMS are areas of public land that are managed for wildlife habitat and recreation. While these areas are primarily used for upland game bird hunting in the fall, they provide excellent birding and wildlife viewing locations in the spring and summer. Equipped with accessible walking trails, parking lots and site maps, GEMS can be navigated by explorers of all types.

Spend a day exploring or plan a multiday road trip and book a campsite along your travel route. Visit the GEMS information kiosk and snap a picture of the map before your hike. Read about the versatile ways habitat is managed at the site and the wildlife species that thrive there. Once you’ve packed your binoculars, water and sunblock, you’re ready to go.

To prepare for your trip, visit Michigan.gov/Birding to refresh your bird identification skills, learn about respectful birding habits and see other nearby birding locations.

There are thousands of acres of GEMS waiting to be explored. Find locations and site descriptions at Michigan.gov/GEMS.

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Go cicada hunting for Brood X!

brood x cicadaLooking for something a little different? If you want to spend time outdoors but aren’t sure about fighting the “Up North” traffic, consider heading the other direction in search of a once-in-a-generation spectacle from Mother Nature instead!

The warmer nights are enticing a group of 17-year cicadas – named Brood X – to come out of the ground and look for a mate. Some of these mysterious insects already have emerged in the Ann Arbor area (the state’s expected epicenter), and numbers statewide likely will peak around mid-June.

Cicadas are not dangerous, but they are big and loud. Go to our wildlife viewing: cicadas page for more information on where to find them and how you can play an important role in cicada science.


The warmer weather is here! Start planning your fishing trip on the Great Lakes. Not sure where to go? Check out our roadmaps to fishing the Great Lakes.


Whether it’s paddling, hiking or mountain biking, now is a great time to visit state parks. Your Recreation Passport gives you access to your new favorite memory.


If you’re looking for a way to get outdoors and do some good, check out the volunteer stewardship calendar. You can help improve habitat, reduce invasive species and give back.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.