DNR News: Forest Health Highlights report

DNR News: Forest Health Highlights report

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DNR News

Jan. 31, 2024

Contact: Cheryl Nelson, 231-287-1714

DNR’s new Forest Health Highlights report showcases a year of collaboration, success

Crews survey for evidence of hemlock woolly adelgid on trees in West Michigan. During 2023, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources teamed up with local and federal partners to treat hemlock trees in six west Michigan counties against a tiny aphid-like invader, the hemlock woolly adelgid.

The team also has worked to identify and respond to detections of beech leaf disease in seven southeast Michigan counties.

But that’s just some of the work that the DNR’s forest health team did while striving to protect 20 million acres of forest land and urban trees from threats stemming from native and invasive plants, diseases and pests. The issues are compiled in the new “Forest Health Highlights” report, which looks at forest health trends in the state during 2023.

“The DNR’s forest health team works closely with local cooperative invasive species management area groups, or CISMAs, federal experts, researchers and many others to address issues that are new or ongoing,” said James Wieferich, forest health unit manager with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “Besides on-the-ground work, the Forest Health Program brings money into Michigan to help partners address forest health challenges and concerns across the state and in many cases, preventing rapid spread of new issues into the region.”

The goal: Keep Michigan’s forests healthy, productive and sustainable.

Progress is being made against the pest

Tiny white fluffy-looking ovisacs are the telltale sign of hemlock woolly adelgid. The battle against the hemlock woolly adelgid is one good example of the type of teamwork that takes place when Michigan’s forests are threatened. The tiny insect sucks sap from hemlock twigs, and ongoing infestations can weaken or kill host trees.

That threat means boots on the ground, first to find infestations, then to treat the trees. Over the past seven years, 12,468 acres and 231,429 trees have been treated as part of a strategy to keep the insect from spreading into northern forests. The good news: most of Michigan’s hemlock trees are many miles away from established HWA populations.

Over the past seven years, more than $6.5 million has been raised to respond to the insect, and efforts continue to be funded through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, Great Lake Restoration Initiative, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Recreation Passport (state park user fees), fundraising efforts supported by Bob Ross Inc. and other state funds.

The DNR’s forest health team also works with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to respond to recent detections of a similar insect, the balsam woolly adelgid, in Kent, Missaukee and Oceana counties.

Balsam woolly adelgid also has become a threat

Balsam woolly adelgid poses a threat to the roughly 1.9 billion balsam fir trees within their native range in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, as well as non-native Fraser and concolor firs. These fir species are important to Michigan’s Christmas tree industry. Producing nearly 13.5 million trees each year, Michigan is the country’s third largest Christmas tree grower.

Balsam woolly adelgid was detected in Michigan in August 2021, when officials at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development were notified of several infested Fraser firs in Kent County. No evidence of additional infestation was detected within the survey area, and the eight infested Frasier fir were cut and chipped in winter 2021. Follow-up surveys in late 2022 found no evidence of balsam woolly adelgid in Kent County.

However, in 2023, additional infestations likely resulting from separate introductions were detected in limited areas of Missaukee and Oceana counties. Infestations are currently being evaluated, and treatment plans will be implemented once completed.

You can help

Forest health professionals cover a lot of ground throughout the state, but they can’t be everywhere. The program relies heavily on reports from people who notice unusual insects or sick or dying trees. If you see something unusual or have concerns about trees in your area, use one of these methods to report it.

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Surveying: DNR crews spend winter months surveying for evidence of hemlock woolly adelgid infestation in west Michigan counties.
  • HWA ovisacs: This sprig of hemlock shows the small, fluffy white ovisacs – think Q-Tips – that can infect and kill hemlock trees.
Theft Alert: Identity Theft Awareness Week

Theft Alert: Identity Theft Awareness Week

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January 31, 2024

Media Contact:
Danny Wimmer

Attorney General Nessel Re-Issues Identity Theft Alert in Recognition of Identity Theft Awareness Week

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is re-issuing her alert detailing Identity Theft Warning Signs in recognition of Identity Theft Awareness Week to make residents aware of the clues that might mean their identity has been stolen.

recent study completed by U.S. News and World Report noted that nearly three-fourths (73%) of its respondents said they had experienced one case of identity theft with more than a quarter (27%) saying they faced identity fraud more than once. While 2023’s final numbers are not yet available, in 2022, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 1.1 million reports of identity theft.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personal information, such as social security numbers, credit card details, or other sensitive data, without permission to commit fraud or other unlawful activities.

“Identity theft can wreak havoc on our finances, our credit, and our sense of personal data security. Consumers can reduce their risk of falling victim to this widespread and damaging crime by heeding the warning signs,” Nessel said. “I encourage everyone to visit the Michigan Identity Theft Support webpage for resources and guidance.”

The attorney general’s alert recommends paying attention to clues like missing mail, mysterious bank withdrawals, and credit denials. A previously released alert provides the following tips to help consumers reduce their risk of identity theft:

  • Charge everything to a credit card. You are most protected against liability for fraudulent charges.
  • Shred papers with a device that makes micro cuts. Turn your documents into confetti.
  • Consider credit monitoring. Know when someone checks your credit and more.
  • Never pay with a personal check. You expose your account, routing number, and your money to anyone who handles the check.

The Michigan Identity Theft Support unit can provide identity theft victims with resources and guidance to help minimize damage caused by this disruptive crime. The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book contains information the FTC has collected throughout the year on fraud, identity theft, and other consumer protection topics.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact:

Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll-free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form


Record-Breaking Year for Health Insurance Enrollments 

Record-Breaking Year for Health Insurance Enrollments 

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January 30, 2024

Contact: [email protected]


Governor Whitmer Celebrates Record-Breaking Year for Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollments

2024 enrollment up approximately 30% over 2023, both in Michigan and nationally


LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Anita Fox announced that more than 418,000 Michiganders purchased health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace during the recent open enrollment period. This is the highest number of Michiganders to enroll in affordable Marketplace coverage in history and represents an increase of nearly 30% over 2023.


“Everyone deserves the peace of mind that comes with having comprehensive, affordable health insurance, and I am grateful for the work we’ve done in Michigan and with our partners in the Biden-Harris administration to reach that goal,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today, we celebrate this new record but recognize that there is more work to be done. Our administration will continue to do everything possible to help people stay healthy, save money, and thrive right here in Michigan.”


“In Michigan and across the country, record numbers of people enrolled in high quality, comprehensive health plans. We celebrate this important achievement and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that every Michigander who needs health insurance has the information they need to get covered,” said Director Fox. “If you still need health insurance for 2024 but missed the open enrollment deadline, you may still qualify for a special enrollment period if you have experienced a qualifying life event. You can find more information by visiting Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance, or by calling DIFS at 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”


Open Enrollment for 2024 health insurance ran between November 1, 2023 and January 16, 2024. During that time, 418,100 Michiganders signed up for a new health plan on HealthCare.gov. This represents a nearly 30% increase over enrollment numbers for 2023.


Contributing to the record enrollment period was federal legislation that extended savings to millions of consumers and helped many Michiganders find a plan for less than $10 per month. In addition, the Governor continued her ongoing commitment to helping Michiganders understand their options and secure the health insurance they need for themselves and their families, including recent action to protect preventive health care for millions of Michiganders.


For most Michiganders, the next opportunity to enroll in or change a Marketplace health plan will be the open enrollment period for 2025 coverage, which is set to begin on November 1, 2024. Consumers who missed the opportunity to enroll in a 2024 plan may qualify for a special enrollment period if they experience a qualifying life event, such as a birth, job loss, or divorce. In addition, Michiganders who qualify for the state’s Medicaid or MIChild programs can apply at any time by visiting the MI Bridges website.


For questions or concerns about health insurance, visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call DIFS 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442. For more information about special enrollment periods, and to figure out for which programs they may qualify, consumers should visit Healthcare.gov/lower-costs.


MDOT launches road usage charges survey

MDOT launches road usage charges survey


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January 30, 2024
Michael Frezell
[email protected]

MDOT launches road usage charges survey
to gauge public interest

Fast facts:
– MDOT is launching a road usage charges survey at 
– The survey will give the public the opportunity to weigh in on possible new ways to sustainably and fairly fund and maintain the state transportation system.
– Respondents will receive a $10 gift card for their participation.

LANSING, Mich. – Starting Jan. 30 through March 1, Michigan residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the way we all pay for roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure in the state through a new road usage charges survey. Each respondent will receive a $10 gift card for their participation. To participate, go to www.Michigan.gov/MIRoadCharge.

The survey, being conducted by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in partnership with Via Transportation, Inc. (Via) through funding provided through a federal grant, seeks to understand Michiganders’ attitudes toward potential replacements for the state gas tax. While no changes like this are being debated by the Legislature at this time, the statewide survey is the first step in exploring new ways to sustainably and fairly fund and maintain public transit systems, roads, bridges, and other crucial transportation infrastructure in Michigan.

One possible funding tool is road usage charges, which means drivers would pay a few cents for each mile driven versus paying based on how much gas they buy. Charging based on miles driven could make the system fairer for drivers who cannot afford newer, more fuel-efficient cars, while also ensuring that the state continues to have the resources needed to maintain roads in the future as vehicles become more fuel efficient or rely on alternative fuels.

Respondents must be a Michigan resident aged 18 or older and can take the survey only once. Qualifying survey participants will be invited to participate in a pilot demonstration this fall to help us understand how road usage charges could work in Michigan. If interested, please let us know when completing the survey. By participating in the pilot demonstration, you could be eligible for additional incentives ranging from $75 to $500.

Participants should allow up to two weeks to receive a gift card. Gift cards will arrive by e-mail from [email protected] with the subject “Michigan Department of Transportation sent you a gift card.” If a participant is having issues with the survey, please e-mail [email protected] using the e-mail address that was provided when completing the survey.

The survey is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese. Participants who require mobility, visual, hearing, written, or other assistance for effective participation should contact Orlando Curry at 517-241-7462 or [email protected]. Forms are located on the Title VI webpage. Requests will be evaluated and honored to the extent possible.

About Via Transportation:
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to develop public mobility systems. Via works to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, providing technology in 600 communities and more than 35 countries and counting. Via is supporting MDOT in both survey implementation and pilot technology deployment to explore road usage charging in the state of Michigan.

DNR News Digest – Week of Jan. 29, 2024

DNR News Digest – Week of Jan. 29, 2024

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News Digest – Week of Jan. 29, 2024

three snowmobilers ride single file on a curved, snow-covered trail in the forest. Blue sky filters through tall, thin trees behind them.
Here are 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 many of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

Video: 80 seasons and counting, Michigan hunter going strong

smiling, older man in orange and black camo hat and green plaid jacket holds a black rifle at window of a wood hunting blind“I’m William Kusey, Sr. I’m 94 years old, and I’m a hunter.”

So starts a new video from the DNR, capturing the words, wisdom and charm of a longtime Michigan hunter who hasn’t missed a firearm deer season opener in 80 years.

Kusey got his first buck at age 14 while hunting with his dad on opening day, a heart-pounding experience that he said has never faded.

“Even at my age,” he laughed, “my heart beats when I see a buck!”

Kusey’s recollections are part of the DNR’s Experiencing Michigan’s Outdoors video series, quick yet revealing looks at hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities through inspiring, personal stories.

If not for his brothers’ mentoring, Kusey said hunting might not be a part of his story. It was their encouragement that sparked a tradition that has grown to include deer and bear hunts – Kesey got his first bear in 1995, west of Copper Harbor, and followed that up with bear No. 2 in 2000, on the other side of Copper Harbor.

“To me, deer hunting was putting food on the table. I’ve hunted all my life, and I’ve really enjoyed every day of it,” he said. “There’s no better place in the world than to hunt in Michigan.”

Veteran hunters like Kusey are an important part of our state’s hunting heritage. Visit Michigan.gov/Hunting to learn about season/species opportunities, as well as simple ways – through mentoring and safety instruction – to share your knowledge and expertise with those just starting out.

If you’ve got ideas about other stories we can tell through video, email Brad Parsons at [email protected]. For questions about hunting opportunities and mentoring, email [email protected].

Embrace winter wonder with fun February events

a young boy in blue snowsuit touches a teal lantern on a pole in the snow, with a campfire and a few adults in winter gear in backgroundFebruary is filled with ways to make the most of winter and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources. Keep in mind that some programs are weather-dependent, and whenever you’re on or near water, use extreme caution around ice.

Hike and ski

Several state parks will host guided hikes – many with snowshoes, some by lantern light – and cross-country skiing events. See the DNR events calendar for dates, locations and other details.

Find some relaxation in Michigan’s northern woods with the Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoe Getaway at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon, taking place Feb. 2-4 and Feb. 9-11. Perfect for couples, friends or families, the all-inclusive weekend includes cabin-style lodging, meals, hot cocoa, snowshoe rentals and easy access to outdoor adventure and miles of evergreen-lined trails.

Ride and fish

We recognize that snow conditions may determine your ability to pull out the sleds, but when winter weather truly returns, a full weekend of free snowmobiling Feb. 9-11 is a great way to ignite (or reignite) your love of winter trail riding! Grab your friends and ride 6,000-plus miles of DNR-designated snowmobile trails, public roads and public lands (where authorized). You legally can ride all weekend long without the regular requirement of a snowmobile registration or trail permit!

During the winter Free Fishing Weekend, Feb. 17-18, enjoy fishing on inland and Great Lakes waters for free, with all license fees waived both days. All fishing regulations will still apply. It’s also a good time to visit state parks and boating access sites, as a Recreation Passport isn’t required for entry during Free Fishing Weekend. As always, consult Michigan.gov/IceSafety before any on-ice activities.

Learn to ice fish from the pros with Hard Water School at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac, part of the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy. The Feb. 17-18 class will cover everything you need to know to get started, with a focus on techniques for panfish, walleye and pike. The advanced class Feb. 2-4 will dive deeper into specific ice-fishing topics. If the weather doesn’t cooperate to offer the on-ice portion of the class, things may move indoors for a fish fry (if there are enough students).

Birds and blooms

a black-capped chickadee, with tan body and black and grey-white wings, perches on a thin, ice-covered branch, snow in backgroundIf you’re in the Detroit area, check out the Outdoor Adventure Center event calendar for a variety of fun and educational programs for all ages, from kids to seniors, both indoors and outdoors. Don’t miss the Feb. 11 Birding Expo, where exhibitors from various local organizations will help new birders get started with this healthy, fun hobby.

Celebrate winter Birds and Blooms Feb. 17 with activities for the whole family at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center in Mattawan. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count bird walk, make pinecone bird feeders, find out how native plants benefit birds, and enjoy hot cocoa, cookies and more.

For a full list of DNR events, see Michigan.gov/DNRCalendaror find ideas to plan your own cold-weather adventure at Michigan.gov/WinterFun.

Help take care of state’s natural and cultural resources

If you’d like to get involved in the work the DNR does, read on for ways to help next month! For more opportunities to lend a hand and provide input, visit Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers.

State park stewardship

A dozen or so adults in winter coats and gear gather around a brown, rectangular state park entrance sign, with snow all aroundSeveral state parks in southern Michigan will host stewardship workdays, where volunteers are needed to help restore natural areas by removing invasive plants that threaten high-quality ecosystems. Workdays will take place:

  • 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 3, at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at Waterloo Recreation Area (Jackson County).
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, at Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, at Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County).
  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 10, at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County).
  • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday Feb. 10, at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County).
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County).
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County).
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County).
  • 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 24, at Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County).
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County).

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

Campground and harbor hosts

If you love staying overnight in Michigan state parks and harbors, consider serving as a volunteer campground or harbor host – we’re currently accepting applications at many locations. Volunteer hosts help answer visitor questions, plan activities and help with light maintenance duties. In exchange, campsite and slip fees are waived. The total commitment is about 30 hours per week.

On the Ground habitat improvement

A man and a younger girl, both in bibs and winter jackets and orange knit caps, carry a long tree limb through heavy snowJoin On the Ground, Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ volunteer public-land wildlife habitat improvement program in partnership with the DNR, for upcoming projects. Gear, lunch, water and volunteer gifts will be provided.

Help create habitat for small mammals and game birds 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Bellevue Conservation Club in Eaton County. Take part in efforts to clean out and maintain current wood duck nest boxes and install new nest boxes 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 at Maple River State Game Area in Gratiot County. Build brush piles for woodcock 1:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at Port Huron State Game Area in St. Clair County.

Great Backyard Bird Count

You can help scientists better understand and protect birds around the world, while spending time birdwatching in your favorite places, by taking part in the global Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 16-19. Count birds in your backyard, a local park or wherever you spot them, and submit your observations online.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Mitten love at Tahquamenon

Shadowed outline of mitten hands forming Michigan's two peninsulas, backlit by a crackling orange campfire See more pictures by Michigan state parks photo ambassadors at Instagram.com/MiStateParks. For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. (This photo is by Jamie Ball, for the Michigan DNR, at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula.)