Help Keep Pets Safe this Spring Holiday Season

Help Keep Pets Safe this Spring Holiday Season

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For immediate release: March 28, 2024
Media contacts: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

MDARD Encourages Owners to Help Keep Pets Safe this Spring Holiday Season

Following a few easy tips can help ensure you have a healthy, happy celebration with your pets

LANSING, MI—As Michiganders prepare to celebrate this spring holiday season, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding owners of some of the best ways to keep their pets healthy and safe.

“Spring holiday celebrations are filled with food, family, and loved ones—including our pets. It is important to consider their needs as we plan our festivities,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. “From keeping them away from eating chocolate and candy to ensuring they have a quiet space to destress, there are many actions we can take to make sure they have a safe holiday.”

Keep pets safe this spring holiday season by following these six easy tips:

  • Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding pets people foods.

Unfortunately, pets cannot enjoy all of the same foods and treats we do. Foods not specifically formulated for pets should be avoided as they could cause pancreatitis—even when consumed in small amounts. Also, be sure to keep candy and other sweets containing chocolate, raisins, and/or xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) away from pets as these ingredients can be hazardous.

  • Avoid Temptations: Keep Easter grass and other holiday decorations out of reach.

Brightly colored plastic Easter grass or other basket fillers may make for a beautiful presentation, but it can also catch the eye of our pets. If consumed, the filler could cause intestinal blockages or other injuries. Be sure to remove filler from baskets completely or at least keep the baskets out of a pet’s reach, along with candles, lights, plastic eggs/toys, and some festive flowers/plants—especially Easter lilies as these are highly toxic to cats.

  • Go Natural: Save the dye for eggs—not pets.

As a reminder, in Michigan, it is illegal to sell baby chicks, rabbits, ducklings, or other fowl or game that have been dyed or artificially colored (Public Act 163 of 1945). Violating this law is a misdemeanor, so keep animals their natural color.

  • Search No More: Make sure pets have proper identification.

With all the holiday activity, pets can easily sneak out and get lost. Make sure pets have identification tags and microchips updated with your current contact information to ensure they can be returned home.

  • Destress and Decompress: Have a quiet space for your pets.

Any holiday celebration can be loud and overly stimulating for pets. So, it is important to have a quiet space set aside for them to go if they are getting too stressed. Also, have the room stocked with their food, water, litter pan, etc. in case they want to maintain their distance for an extended period of time.

  • More Than Novelties: Bunnies and chicks are fur-ever pets.

While it may be tempting to surprise someone with a real bunny, chick, or duckling this holiday, it is important to remember these animals are long-term pets, often requiring specialized care and feed. Many people feel unprepared to properly care for one of these animals and hand them over to local animal control or an animal shelter. Opt for gifting someone a stuffed or chocolate animal instead.

These tips can help you and your pets have an egg-cellent and safe holiday. If there are ever any concerns about your pets’ health now or beyond the spring holiday season, please talk to your veterinarian.

Annual spring weight restrictions changing on Michigan’s roads

Annual spring weight restrictions changing on Michigan’s roads

March 26, 2024 


Dan Weingarten
[email protected]


Annual spring weight restrictions
changing on Michigan’s roads

LANSING, Mich. ­- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) continues to adjust spring weight restriction areas in an annual move to protect roads.

Effective 6 a.m. Monday, April 1, weight restrictions will be lifted on all state trunkline highways from the southern Michigan border north to and including US-2/US-141 at the Menominee River bridge west of Iron Mountain then east on US-2 to St. Ignace, then north on I-75 to M-134, then east to and including M-134 on Drummond Island.

Frost restrictions are still in effect for the remainder of the state and will be imposed and enforced on all state trunkline highways north of US-2, I-75, and M-134 and on M-185 on Mackinac Island. State routes typically carry M, I, or US designations.

In the restricted areas, the following will apply:

  • On routes designated as “all-season” (designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be no reduction in legal axle weights.
  • All extended permits will be valid for oversize loads in the weight-restricted area on the restricted routes. Single-trip permits will not be issued for any overweight loads or loads exceeding 14 feet in width, 11 axles, and 150 feet in overall length on the restricted routes.
  • On routes designated as “seasonal” (designated in solid or dashed red on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be a posted weight reduction of 25 percent for rigid (concrete) pavements and 35 percent for flexible (asphalt) pavements, and maximum speed of 35 mph for some vehicles.

Drivers must follow the speed limits for weight restricted roads, per state law. Go online for speed restrictions for trucks and the rules for propane fuel delivery and public utility vehicles.

When roads that have been frozen all winter begin to thaw from the surface downward, melting snow and ice saturate the softened ground. During the spring thaw, the roadbed softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement makes it more susceptible to damage. This contributes to pothole problems already occurring due to this winter’s numerous freeze-thaw cycles.

MDOT determines when weight restrictions begin each spring by measuring frost depths along state highways, observing road conditions, and monitoring weather forecasts. Weight restrictions remain in effect until the frost line is deep enough to allow moisture to escape and the roadbeds regain stability.

County road commissions and city public works departments put in place their own seasonal weight restrictions, which usually, but not always, coincide with state highway weight restrictions. Signs are generally posted to indicate which routes have weight restrictions in effect.

For weight restriction information and updates, call 800-787-8960, or you can access this information on MDOT’s website at, under “Restrictions.” All-season routes are designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map, which is available online. You also may sign up to receive e-mail alerts.

Trucking companies located in New Jersey and Canada can obtain information by calling 517-373-6256. 


Work zones are temporary,
Bad decisions behind the wheel can last forever.

Spring Weight Restrictions #3 map

MDHHS Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program

MDHHS Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program

MDHHS banner with logo no names

Press Release


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112, [email protected]

MDHHS Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program offered
to help retain, attract providers through student debt relief

Up to $300,000 available per award to repay educational debt


LANSING, Mich. – As part of the state’s effort to attract and retain talent and expand access to behavioral health services, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is offering the Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program. Previously known as the MI Kids Now Loan Repayment Program, this program encourages behavioral health providers to offer their services within nonprofit outpatient organizations statewide.   


The program is available to behavioral health providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, therapists, case managers and certified behavioral analysts. Those eligible must provide in-person, outpatient behavioral health services through eligible nonprofit practice sites, including public school-based systems and community mental health organizations.  


“Under Governor Whitmer, MDHHS has prioritized expanding access to behavioral health services across Michigan,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We are continuing to offer loan repayment programs to ensure providers have the supports they deserve, and families can receive services when and where they need them.” 


The loan repayment program is open to providers who serve both children and adults, but priority will be given to those who serve children. Eligible providers will be selected to enter into consecutive two-year agreements. The program will assist those selected with up to $300,000 to repay educational debt over a period of up to 10 years. A prioritization system will be used to rank applicants as follows: 

  • Priority Group #1: Child providers in a Community Mental Health Authority setting.
  • Priority Group #2: Child providers in a public school-based setting.
  • Priority Group #3: Child providers in any nonprofit, eligible setting.
  • Priority Group #4: Adult providers in a Community Mental Health Authority setting.
  • Priority Group #5: Adult providers in any nonprofit, eligible setting.

Current behavioral health providers are encouraged to apply for the loan repayment program. The application period is April 29 through May 24. Further information regarding eligibility, selection criteria, application instructions and frequently asked questions can be found on the MDHHS website.  


Providers should note that guidelines, eligibility criteria and application instructions have changed for the 2024 application cycle. During previous grant cycles, MDHHS has enrolled around 500 providers and awarded $12.3 million in funding to eligible providers. Further information can be found on the program website. Providers who have questions or need more information can email MDHHS-Behavioral-Health-[email protected].   

Combatting the opioid crisis in Michigan

Combatting the opioid crisis in Michigan


Friend ­­––

The opioid crisis has devastated communities across Michigan – and young people have been hit as hard as anyone. Over 100,000 teenagers in our state have experienced a substance use disorder.

These are kids who should be going to school, spending time with their friends, and looking forward to their futures. Instead, they’re losing their adolescence to addiction.

I recently heard about this firsthand when I joined a roundtable at the Greater Flint Health Coalition, where I spoke with health care providers on the front lines of this crisis about the scope of this problem and the resources they need to address it. I know how essential it is that we continue to support their work.



Click HERE to watch more.


That starts with reauthorizing the Youth Prevention and Recovery Initiative – a program I helped establish in 2018 that has provided critical support to young people who are struggling with addiction.

This is just the first step. I’ll continue doing whatever I can to keep up the fight against the opioid crisis and help our communities heal.


Thanks for reading,

Gary Peters
United States Senator for Michigan

DNR News Digest – Week of March 25, 2024

DNR News Digest – Week of March 25, 2024

DNR banner

News Digest – Week of March 25, 2024

An aerial view of a forest, a trail peeking through an opening in the arbor.

ORV season, Happy Little Trees and more reasons to explore your local trails!

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

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and others, are available in this folder.

Eclipse chasing in Michigan state parks, game areas

A total solar eclipse - the shadow of the moon blocks the surface of the sun, flares of light emanating from behind.A rare solar eclipse is set to pass over North America in just a few weeks, and people everywhere are making plans to experience this astronomical phenomenon. Whether you want to shadow-hunt in Michigan state parks, state game areas or other outdoor sites, put safety first and pack your ISO-certified eclipse glasses or solar viewers.

A total solar eclipse – when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely covering the surface of the sun – will cast a moon shadow across the United States, Canada and Mexico the afternoon of Monday, April 8. As the earth, sun and moon continue to orbit, the shadow will travel in a line across the continent from southwest to northeast. The total solar eclipse is viewable only from within the centerline – called the path of totality – and is estimated to last 3.5 to 4 minutes.

While the path of totality is predicted to touch only the southeastern-most corner of the state (particularly Monroe County), most state parks and state game/wildlife areas – more prone to open skies and minimal light pollution – offer ideal settings for even a partial eclipse.

According to NASA’s Eclipse Explorer, an interactive map that helps predict coverage, Erie State Game Area in Erie is expecting a “deep partial” eclipse at 99.98% totality, Sterling State Park in Monroe is estimated to experience 99.8% totality, and Lake Hudson Recreation Area in Clayton an estimated 99.3%. Other areas of the state are estimated at varying amounts.

“Sterling State Park is positioned as a prime viewing location for a near-total eclipse,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “While the path of totality won’t reach everyone, state parks can provide ideal outdoor opportunities to share, even partially, in this celestial event.”

Olson also said that coverage predictions in other parks vary depending on where you will be in the state and, understandably, lessen as you move farther away from the path of totality. Your chances on Belle Isle (Detroit) are closer to 99.4%; Sleepy Hollow State Park (Laingsburg), 96%; Mitchell State Park (Cadillac), 89.6%; Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Paradise), 82.1%; and Fort Wilkins Historic State Park (Copper Harbor).

No matter where you are when the eclipse occurs, remember to never look directly at the sun with your naked eye, even during a partial eclipse; always use certified eye protection. For more details and safety tips, check out NASA’s eclipse safety page.

A towering tree stands still as the stars track across the sky in a long-exposure shot.Sterling State Park

The nearly complete solar eclipse (99.8%) is estimated at 3:13 p.m. in Sterling State Park. Mark the moment with a viewing party in the beach parking lot from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Beginning at 1:30 p.m., solar eclipse glasses (while supplies last) will be handed out compliments of the Monroe County Convention & Tourism Bureau, Monroe County Museum and the DNR. Food trailers, interpretive programs and a touch-the-truck display will also be part of the fun.

For more information, contact park manager Jason Morgan at 734-777-6396.

Lake Hudson Recreation Area

Lake Hudson Recreation Area, near the Ohio border, is hosting a viewing party for a spectacular near-total solar eclipse (99.3 %) at approximately 3:12 p.m. Visit Lenawee will provide free solar eclipse glasses (while supplied last) to all visitors in the beach parking lot.

This park is a stargazing destination as one of six designated dark sky preserves in Michigan state parks. Dark sky preserves are locations specially designated by the Michigan Legislature and are open 24 hours a day.

For more information, contact park supervisor Shane Morse at 517-467-7401.

Erie State Game Area

Estimated to be among Michigan’s best eclipse-viewing locations, Erie State Game Area (with 99.98% coverage) will partner with the Monroe County Convention and Tourism Bureau to host a viewing event from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Dusseau Tract at the corner of Dean and Bay Creek roads. Parking is available in a few small parking areas and along the grass shoulder of Bay Creek Road. MCCTB staff will have a limited amount of eclipse viewing glasses available.

For more information, contact Adam Shook at [email protected].

Ready to ride? Buy your ORV license and trail permit today

Orvs drive down a forested road.April 1 marks the start of the 2024-25 off-road vehicle season in Michigan, and now is a great time to purchase your license and trail permit. Access thousands of miles of state-designated ORV trails and scramble areas, eligible county/national forest roads, state forest roads open to ORV use and more.

ORV licenses and trail permits are valid for one year, from April 1 to March 31 of the following year. Your dollars make a major impact: Fees generated through ORV licenses and trail permits are reinvested into the ORV system, benefiting trail expansion, grant funding for annual trail grooming, infrastructure improvements and more uses.

The state’s ORV community also plays a critical role in ensuring the maintenance and longevity of state-designated motorized trails, said Ron Yesney, Upper Peninsula trails coordinator for the DNR.

“We’re thankful for the many ORV clubs all across Michigan who maintain 4,000 miles of state-designated ORV trails,” Yesney said. “These volunteers keep our trails signed and maintained, and without them we couldn’t provide the high-quality trails system that we do.”

As you plan your spring and summer riding excursions, a few friendly reminders to keep in mind:

  • All operators under age 16 must have an ORV safety certificate to ride on public land – including trails.
  • Plan ahead! Know which trails you want to explore and whether you are allowed to be there by viewing the DNR’s interactive ORV trail and route maps. Also check your vehicle width and trail signage before proceeding on a trail – trails and restricted areas may be closed for your safety. Aside from being unsafe, trespassing on closed trails and roads can result in fines and future trail closures.
  • Always Ride Right so you return safely to family and friends. This means riding at a safe speed, riding sober, riding on the right side of the trail (trails have two-way traffic) and wearing a helmet.

If you cross paths with trail volunteers, tell them you appreciate their efforts! Great trails don’t just happen – volunteers’ hard work and dedication help keep your favorite outdoor recreational activities safe and enjoyable.

Learn more about ORV riding in Michigan at For more information, contact Ron Yesney at 906-228-6561.

ICYMI: E-bikes may soon be allowed on state park trails

Two people cycle down a paved trail in summer.Electric bicycles may be allowed to operate on state park-managed nonmotorized trails currently open to bicycles, under a proposed DNR land use change that could go into effect as early as this spring.

Under current Michigan law, only Class 1 e-bikes – e-bikes that are pedal-assisted and can go up to 20 miles per hour – are allowed on improved surface trails, which are trails that are paved or consist of gravel or asphalt. Current law also allows for local entities to expand or further regulate e-bike usage in their respective communities.

A public survey about the proposed land use change is open through March 31, and results will be shared during the April 11 Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting. The proposed policy change will go before DNR Director Scott Bowen for action at the commission’s May meeting, with any approved change going into effect immediately thereafter.

The proposed DNR land use change – explained in more detail in this recent DNR news release – would expand allowable e-bike use to include Class 1 e-bikes on natural surface, nonmotorized trails on state park-managed land open to bicycles.

Learn more about what qualifies as an e-bike in Michigan, the current e-bike policy on state-managed park land and survey details at Directly access the e-bike survey at

Questions? Contact Nicole Hunt at 517-282-9970.

Run, walk or roll this Bob Ross-inspired race

A thermos with a Bob Ross sticker.Spring has sprung! Now is the time to sign up for the next Run for the Trees: Happy Little (Virtual) 5K. Run, walk or roll your race to support tree planting and forest protection efforts in state parks. This Bob Ross-inspired program, now in its fifth year, continues to expand, with participation from Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

“We are excited to witness the evolution of this partnership with Bob Ross Inc.,” said Michelle O’Kelly, who oversees fund and resource development for the DNRd Parks and Recreation Division. “Over the past five years, we have enjoyed celebrating ‘the joy of painting’ with a love of trees and being active all at the same time. It has been exciting to see the program offerings – to include the new happy little sticker – and our reach grow to 10 states,” she said. “We look forward to seeing how the program continues to grow in the future.”

Registration is open through Monday, April 1, at midnight. Race details:

  • Registration is $36 and includes a keepsake Happy Little T-shirt, Happy Little Trees sticker (new this year!), finisher’s medal, commemorative bib number and shipping.
  • Complete your 5K – that’s 3.1 miles – between April 22 (Earth Day) and April 26 (Arbor Day).
  • You pick the pace and the place, anywhere outdoors.
  • For group discounts (10 or more registrants), contact race director Michelle O’Kelly.
  • Race packets are starting to ship! Don’t miss out – sign up today at to receive your goodies in time for your run.

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

Photo ambassador snapshot: Starlight over swaying blades

Tufts of dunegrass sway beneath a sea of stars.See more pictures by Michigan state parks photo ambassadors at For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. (This photo is by Jessica Sancrant, for the Michigan DNR, at Port Crescent State Park in Huron County).


True spring is right around the corner and so is tree planting season! Find planting resources, guides and articles on how to attract beneficial species to your yard on the Mi Trees page.