Belle Isle Part I: A Celebrated Past

Author's note: This is the first of a three-part series that I wrote for the newspapers I work for in Metro Detroit. Saturday, Sept. 1 the series will look at "Belle Isle's Troubled Present", and the Sunday, Sept. 2 installment will focus on "Belle Isle's Uncertain Future". By the way, the above video is not the best quality, but you can watch a high resolution version of it by clicking on my YouTube channel.

“Belle Isle’s story is a record of Detroit as a city: its attempt to establish itself among America’s and the world’s top cities in the era of its phenomenal rise to world industrial power; the fits and spurts of its growth and development; (and) the challenges faced in this time of sprawling metropolitan lifestyles.”
-- Janet Anderson, author of “Island in the City: Belle Isle, Detroit’s Beautiful Island”

DETROIT — Belle Isle is an enigmatic jewel of a park. It is beloved by all, enjoyed by many and brought to its knees by a few.

The island park — designed in the 1880s by the esteemed Frederick Law Olmstead, who also created New York City’s Central Park — has a yesteryear charm as many of its Victorian and art-deco structures and monuments date to 1890-1915.

Archive images courtesy of the Library of Congress
At 2.5 miles long and a half-mile wide, Belle Isle is 982 acres of public outdoor space on the Detroit River with distinct recreational opportunities ranging from the athletic to the serene. Despite its problems — and there are many — Belle Isle is host to 5 million visitors a year.

Belle Isle is indeed a jewel — a multifaceted jewel — of Detroit.

It is a park of the ages, and for all ages.

Everyone easily agrees that Belle Isle’s past should be celebrated, its present needs to be addressed and its future ought to be preserved for generations to come.

But where people disagree is on who should carry out those duties.

Celebrated Past
Belle Isle came to be because early Detroiters wanted to show the rest of the nation it, too, was a modern, cosmopolitan city.

In the mid to late 1800s, every major city in America was developing a grand city park. New York started the race with Central Park in 1858. After that, 15 other major cities — including Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Baltimore’s Druid Hill and The Mall in Washington, D.C. — all developed a showcase park within the next two decades.

Detroiters were equally proud of their city and very much wanted to show the rest of the nation that it was worthy of being included among the upper echelon of America’s burgeoning municipalities.

In his 1870 message to the Common Council, Detroit Mayor William Wheaton said, “Some of the cities, such as New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, are laying out, improving and enlarging parks that are equal to anything of the kind in the world, and the testimony is, without contradiction, that, although the expense is very heavy, it is well repaid and cheerfully borne.”

Not everyone was enamored with the idea of a showcase park. Even back then, certain influences decried the expense of developing a park at all, especially one that was expected to be enormous in scale and budget. A Detroit Park Commission was authorized to identify potential park space and issue up to $200,000 in bonds to acquire the land. But several times strong opposition led to the defeat of what was then known as “The Park Question.”

Eventually, behind-the-scenes machinations culminated in a letter being presented to the Common Council on April 9, 1879. The letter, from the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Exchange, advocated the purchase of Belle Isle for the purpose of using it to develop a rail crossing to Canada. The Common Council adopted the letter as a resolution the next day by a vote of 18 to 7. Opponents still made a last-minute effort to block “The Park Question.” On June 30, a resolution to defer the decision of purchase to a citywide vote was defeated. On Sept. 25, the last of the private landowners on Belle Isle sold their property and Belle Isle became public property.

Frederick Law Olmstead
When it came time to design Belle Isle, Detroit looked no further than to the father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmstead. It is not a coincidence that Olmstead also designed New York City’s Central Park, among others.

Olmstead’s design principles, it has been widely noted, were rooted in his desire to develop spaces unlike those found in Europe up to that point. While European parks were known for their formality and use by the elite, Olmstead sought to develop parks that would be enjoyed by the common worker and his family. His hallmarks — walking paths, carriage driveways, bridges, open lawns — all served to connect people with nature.

All would agree that Belle Isle is a fine example of Olmstead’s design principles.

As a footnote, at the request of the Detroit Park Commission, Olmstead set aside his usual $500 fee for his initial visit, instead simply submitting an expense bill of $70.25. However, the Detroit Common Council (now known as City Council) voted against paying the bill. As another footnote — and perhaps as a precursor to modern times — in 1880 the city did not budget any money for maintenance or improvements, and in 1881 only $11,045 was set aside for this need. Many envisioned an enormous, budget-busting expense of developing Belle Isle according to whatever plan Olmstead would present. In 1884, Olmstead implored city leaders to set Belle Isle’s finances on a long-term path, then he quietly resigned one year later.

Olmstead’s ominous warnings would, unfortunately, ring true.

Up Next: Belle Isle's Troubled Present 

 Note: Much of the historical detail in this report was courtesy of “Island in the City: Belle Isle, Detroit’s Beautiful Island” (Heitman-Garand Co.; 2001), by Janet Anderson for Friends of Belle Isle, which was a companion book to an event at the Detroit Historical Museum, March 23 to Sept. 9, 2001.

ODNR director announces reopening of Burr Oak Lodge

GLOUSTER, OH – Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center will be renovated and reopened, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Jim Zehringer announced recently. ODNR will also seek public input on plans to develop Burr Oak State Park into a regional destination location. In January, the lodge and conference center was closed due to sparse use and poor facility conditions.

U.S. Hotels, a national hospitality and leisure company, will operate the lodge and conference center on a short-term management service contract. In addition, this agreement will create the framework and resources necessary to allow for renovations to the lodge and cottages, providing long-term sustainability. The facility is expected to reopen as soon as September.

“We were at a crossroads earlier this year,” said Zehringer. “We could have torn down this ailing lodge, at a $2 million expense. Instead, we opted to work with state and local leaders to revitalize this once great facility and make it viable again. Our partnership with U.S. Hotels is an important step in that direction.”

Pending Ohio Controlling Board approval, ODNR will redirect the $2 million needed to tear down the structure toward capital improvements, such as beginning electrical repairs and renovations to lodge rooms, common areas and cabins.

“Burr Oak State Park was established as a state park in 1952, and the lodge was dedicated 45 years ago in April 1967,” said Zehringer. “We are committed to making Burr Oak viable once again.”

ODNR is seeking feedback from the local community on a business model to ensure Burr Oak’s success. A public discussion will be held at the lodge on Thursday, Aug. 16 from 5-7 p.m. All individuals are invited to attend with their ideas.

Prior to closing, the Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center employed 45 full-time equivalent employees. The lodge was the second-largest employer in Morgan County. Burr Oak State Park covers Athens, Morgan and Perry counties.

Multi-Day Themed Windjammers Highlight Schooner Manitou’s 25th Year in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Since 1987, the Traverse Tall Ship Company has been offering sailing adventures on the freshwater Grand Traverse Bay – and beyond, into Northern Lake Michigan.

As one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes, the Manitou is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner. A traditional two-masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner, Manitou measures 114 feet in length with more than 3000 square feet of sail.

During the month of September, the Manitou is once again offering its popular windjammer excursions. These multi-day outings give passengers a one-of-a-kind experience to head out into the open waters and enjoy a relaxing, stress-free get-away, while visiting quaint coastal villages and soaking up the panoramic views of the northern Michigan shoreline.

This year’s schedule includes a Four Day Getaway Cruise (Sept. 7-10 | $635pp), a Wine Tasting Cruise (Sept. 14-17 | $685pp), an Astronomy Cruise (Sept. 21-24 | $685pp) and a Three Day Fall Color Cruise (Sept. 28-30 | $570pp). Accommodations are provided in 12 double-bunk cabins, and fare includes lodging, all meals and sailing activities.

Throughout the summer months, three two-hour day sails are offered each day – at Noon, 3pm (Moomers Ice Cream Sail) and Evening (6:30pm). Speciality cruises include Microbrew Tastings on Sunday evenings featuring Short’s Brewing Company, Entertainment Cruises with “Song of the Lakes” on Wednesday evenings, and the Wine Tasting Cruises featuring Leelanau Cellars (Tuesday evenings) and Left Foot Charley (Thursday evenings) both including specially-catered Mediterranean cuisine from Silver Swan Homemade foods.

With a 59 passenger sailing capacity (24 overnight capacity), there is plenty of space for sitting and moving around the decks while under sail. While aboard the Manitou, passengers are free to leave the sailing to the experienced crew or lend a hand and learn the arts of the sailor. An excursion aboard the Manitou allows you to remove yourself from the trappings of modern life: no TV, phone (cell phones are discouraged), internet, email and definitely no itinerary.

In addition to public day sails and multi-day windjammer cruises, the schooner Manitou works with Inland Seas Education Association, providing hands-on environmental education to school kids from throughout the region and state. The Manitou is also available for private charters, making it ideal for corporate outings, wedding parties and family reunions.

Earlier this year, thanks to a community effort involving the City of Traverse City, Discovery Center Great Lakes, Elmwood Township and Traverse City Light and Power, Traverse Tall Ship relocated just a short distance north of its former home, to the Discovery Center Great Lakes at 13258 S.W. Bay Shore Drive (M22), Traverse City (right across from what long-time residents refer to as the “coal dock.”). The dock has served as home for the Maritime Heritage Alliance fleet for some time, and the Manitou ads to the nautical experience of the area.

To make reservations for any of the 2012 Manitou sailing adventures, call toll free 800-678-0383. Gift certificates are also available. For additional information about the Manitou, including its corporate charters, log on to

75th anniversary of Pittman-Robertson Act is a perfect time to celebrate hunters’ role in conservation funding

DNR Wildlife research biologist Mark Boerson
gets a closer look at a tagged bear as part of a
bear den study near Mikado, Mich. (DNR photo)
In Michigan, money raised from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses pays for the bulk of fish and wildlife conservation – and the state’s hunters and anglers are justifiably proud of their reputation for paying their own way.

But license fees aren’t the only dollars that support conservation in Michigan. For decades, sportsmen have been paying into the pot in a manner that – although arguably a bit more obscure – is absolutely critical to successful long-term management of the state’s fish and wildlife.

This year, Sunday, Sept. 2, marks the 75th anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (or, more simply, the P-R Act), and the start of a yearlong celebration for outdoors-minded organizations and individuals around the nation.

“During this landmark year, everyone can do one simple thing – thank hunters for funding 75 years of wildlife restoration,” said Steve Beyer, research and management supervisor for the DNR’s Wildlife Division. “Thank a hunter for helping support Michigan conservation efforts.”

Thank a hunter, indeed.

Beyer said that, from 1939 through federal fiscal year 2012, Pittman-Robertson funds have provided the states and territories with $7.2 billion for wildlife conservation, restoration and hunter education. Michigan, which currently ranks fourth nationally in total P-R funding, has received $261 million since 1939.

(In 1950, the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted to do the same good things for fisheries conservation.)

Named after its sponsors Key Pittman (D-Nevada) and Absalom Robertson (D-Virginia), the P-R Act added an 11-percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition. The tax is built into the cost of the equipment and is paid by the manufacturers of arms and ammunition at the wholesale level.

The P-R Act has been amended a number of times over the past 75 years to expand funding sources. In 1970, a 10-percent tax was levied on pistols and revolvers, with the caveat that half could be used for hunter safety programs. In 1972, bows, arrows and their parts and accessories were added to the program at the 11-percent rate. In 1984, crossbows were also included in the mix.

On the ground in Menominee County, DNR Wildlife staff takes
measurements and collects other data as part of the DNR's
predator-prey study – an effort to better understand the factors
(food supply, winter cover, disease, predation, weather and
hunter harvest) that can limit deer numbers. (DNR photo)
Money raised by the P-R Act is allocated to states through a formula based on the total land area of the state and the number of licensed hunters in that state, Beyer said.

“The money is allocated to state conservation agencies,” he explained. “In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources is the recipient.”

During the 2011 fiscal year, more than $371 million in excise tax was collected through the P-R Act. This money was apportioned out to states to spend during this current fiscal year. Michigan’s portion for fiscal year 2012 is $12.3 million.

It isn’t a blank check, by any means.

These dollars are made available to the DNR in the form of grants for specific projects. Grants are available on a 3-1 matching basis, meaning the DNR must come up with one dollar for every three received in P-R funds. For example, in order for the DNR to receive $750,000 in Pittman-Robertson funding for a $1 million project, it must first provide $250,000 in “match” funds.

“The most common source of matching funds is money collected from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses,” Beyer said. Although states are allowed to use other non-federal funding sources to secure matching funds, the P-R Act requires that license fees be used for conservation projects and cannot be diverted for any other use, he said.

DNR upland game bird specialist Al Stewart (center, green jacket)
is joined by other DNR Wildlife staff and volunteers to release
turkeys near Ionia, Mich. (DNR photo)
“This is the key provision of the act, which ensures that states have matching funds on hand in order to be able to take advantage of available federal grants,” Beyer said.

Federal grants are only available for approved projects, which include land acquisition, research, acquisition and maintenance of public shooting ranges, ecological surveys, reintroduction of wildlife species, hunter education programs and habitat improvement. Over the years, the DNR has used P-R funds for all of these purposes.

One specific example: the restoration of Michigan’s wild turkey population. Wild turkeys, native to Michigan, had completely disappeared from the state around the turn of the last century due to a combination of unregulated hunting and habitat loss.

With the help of $2 million in P-R funds and $1 million in restricted turkey funds (mostly from state hunting license dollars), the turkey population was rehabilitated to what it is today – a robust, sustainable and huntable population found across most of the state.

P-R funds have also directly benefited access to prime hunting areas. The majority of Michigan’s Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas were purchased with P-R dollars, matched with money from the sale of “duck stamps” (waterfowl hunting licenses). Recently, partner organizations, particularly Ducks Unlimited, have been providing funds as well.

Hunters, however, are not the only beneficiaries of P-R funds. P-R funds can be used for projects that restore and conserve any bird or mammal species, not just game species. Consequently, these funds have contributed to the restoration of some non-game species (such as bald eagles) and to preserve wild lands that not only benefit wildlife, but can be used and enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, like mushroom hunters, berry pickers, hikers, birders and others.

DNR Wildlife staff works with the on-site base station team in
Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park to complete a moose capture
and lift. The moose was boxed and sent to the Champion, Mich.,
release site, as part of the DNR's effort to boost the Upper Peninsula's
moose population. (DNR photo)
“The long and short of it is that P-R funds, along with license fees, have been and continue to be how we fund most wildlife management in Michigan and across the U.S.,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Division. “Without P-R funds along with the prevention of diverting license fees to other uses required to get them, conservation in North America would simply collapse.

“Not decline. Disappear,” Mason said. “So we celebrate and support P-R funds in every way that we can.”

As with other funding sources, P-R funds are dependent on the marketplace.

Following 2009, for example, after record gun and ammunition sales, Michigan received more than $16 million in P-R funds in 2010. “When firearms and ammunition sales decline, however, the pot of money shrinks,” Mason noted. In 2011, Michigan’s portion shrank to $12.8 million and, in 2012, dropped to $12.3 million.

Similarly, because license sales are part of the equation, Michigan may not always get as large a cut from the federal pot as it does now. If license sales continue to decline in Michigan – or in comparison to other states – the state could lose out on available federal funding in two ways:
Fewer licensed hunters equals a reduction in what the state is eligible to receive; and
Fewer dollars collected from license sales equals a reduction in available matching funds for federal grants.

In that light, the contribution of Michigan hunters to conservation is two-fold: By purchasing guns and ammunition, bows and arrows, they increase the pot of federal funding available. By purchasing their hunting licenses, they ensure a portion of that federal funding comes right back to their home state.

Katie Keen (R), a DNR wildlife technician, conducts bear den
research with other DNR staff in Alcona County.(DNR photos)
No matter how you slice up the Pittman-Robertson pie, it is clear that the contribution made by sportsmen to conservation efforts in Michigan is truly exponential, and has been for the past 75 years.

For that, we should all thank a hunter.

Learn more about wildlife management and conservation in Michigan at For more information about the Pittman-Robertson Act and the 75th anniversary celebration, visit

The Mouth of the Two Hearted River State Forest Campground #2 reopens

DNR photo
The Mouth of the Two Hearted River State Forest Campground # 2, located in the Upper Peninsula’s Luce County, has reopened. The campground was previously closed due to damage caused by the May Duck Lake Fire.

“Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Resources Division and Parks and Recreation Division staff have worked diligently since the Duck Lake Fire to get the popular campground reopened for safe public use,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. Most of this work centered on removing damaged trees and brush in and around the campground.

Culhane and Pike Lake State Forest Campgrounds remain closed at this time. Bodi Lake, Reed, and Green Bridge are alternate State Forest Campgrounds in the area that were not damaged by the Duck Lake Fire and remain open for public use.

For additional information about these State Forest Campgrounds, call 906-492-3415 or visit

War of 1812 documentary showing at The Henry Ford

Two hundred years after the start of the War of 1812, many bicentennial events and programs are now getting under way. One such commemorative event was the premiere of “Michigan at War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 1812-1815” earlier this month at The Henry Ford’s Anderson Theater in Dearborn, Mich. Created by The Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 with director and producer Chris Cook, Metrocom International, the 30-minute documentary features Michigan’s important role in fighting and winning the war.

Twenty-five years before it became a state, Michigan was a key battleground in the War of 1812. From Monroe to Mackinac and Detroit to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan was the site of several key conflicts between Great Britain and the United States of America in a struggle that cemented the boundaries and governments of North America. During this documentary, guests will hear the stories of what has been called America's second War of Independence, the British capture of Mackinac and the American surrender of Detroit. The documentary, sponsored by DTE Energy, the Michigan Humanities Council and the Monroe County War of 1812 Bicentennial Steering Committee, will also air on Detroit PBS (WTVS/Channel 56) in the fall of this year.

“This thought-provoking documentary is the culmination of several years of research, detailed work and production by the commission and its many generous donors and sponsors,” said Phil Porter, commission chairman and director of Mackinac State Historic Parks. "The territory of Michigan and its people played a key strategic and political role in the War of 1812, and this documentary helps explain this important chapter in our state's history. Educational and fast-paced, ‘Michigan at War’ can be enjoyed and appreciated by historians and elementary school children alike.”

The event is free to the public with registration. Visit to register. For more information on the event, contact Annette McConnell at

The premiere is part of Greenfield Village’s War of 1812 Muster Weekend. Details on the two-day muster are available at

The governor-appointed Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 is charged with encouraging, planning and developing activities, events, programs, observances and services appropriate to commemorate Michigan's role in the War of 1812. More information, including a complete list of War of 1812 bicentennial events, can be found at

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Newsbits for August 2012

Grand American: The IDNR welcomes trapshooters and shooting sports enthusiasts from around the world to Sparta, Illinois and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex for the annual Amateur Trapshooting Association Grand American Trapshooting Championships, Aug. 8-18. For more information on this premier shooting sports event, go to the ATA website at

Safety Education: Sign up now for an IDNR Hunter Safety Education course. Many Hunter Safety classes are scheduled in advance of the fall seasons. Classes fill up quickly, so check the IDNR website for scheduled classes, more of which are added each week. The web link for IDNR Safety Education courses is

Firearm Deer Permits: Permit applications will be accepted from Aug. 14 through Sept. 10 for random daily drawings for 2012 Illinois firearm and muzzleloader deer permits. For details, check the IDNR website at

Resident Archery Deer and Fall Turkey Permits: Resident combination archery deer permits, resident antlerless-only archery deer permits, and resident archery fall turkey hunting permits are available over-the-counter from DNR Direct license and permit vendors. Find a vendor near you at this link:

Non-Resident Deer and Turkey Permits: The remaining non-resident 2012 Illinois combination archery deer permits, as well as non-resident antlerless-only archery deer permits and non-resident archery fall turkey permits are available over-the-counter (OTC) from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, by phone at 1-888-673-7648 (1-888-6PERMIT), or online at though Aug. 31 (OTC only after Aug. 31).

Youth Deer Permits: Resident and non-resident Illinois Youth Firearm Deer permits are available over-the-counter (OTC) from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, by phone at 1-888-673-7648 (1-888-6PERMIT), or online at through Aug. 31 (OTC only after Aug. 31).

Upland Game Permits: Hunters may apply through Aug. 31 for the Illinois 2012 Free Upland Game Hunt Permit program. Applications must be made online at

Controlled Pheasant Permits: Information is now available online for hunters to apply for 2012-13 Illinois controlled pheasant hunting opportunities available at 19 IDNR sites. Fifteen of the sites are operated by the IDNR, while four other sites are managed by concessionaire T. Miller, Inc. For application information, check the IDNR website at or

Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permits: Resident hunters may apply online from Aug. 14-28 for the first lottery for the Illinois 2012 Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permit program. The second lottery deadline will be Sept. 11 for those unsuccessful resident applicants from the first lottery, residents who didn’t apply in the first lottery, and non-residents. The third lottery deadline will be Sept. 25. All initial applications must be made online at or

Wingshooting Clinics: The IDNR and participating partners are sponsoring wingshooting clinics this summer and fall at sites throughout Illinois to help improve the shooting skills of participants. Youth/Women's clinics are designed to teach participants basic firearm safety and the fundamentals of wingshooting. Hunter clinics are designed to enhance the wingshooting skills of hunters and provide sound wingshooting practice techniques. Upcoming clinics will be conducted on weekends from mid-August through late October. For a complete schedule, check the webpage at this link:

New Hunting and Trapping Digest: The Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2012-2013 edition is now available to view online in PDF format through the IDNR website at this link:

Meteor Showers: The Dickson Mounds Museum near Lewistown and the University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon (TFSE) will present a two-part program ‘Meteor Showers - Bringing Visitors from Outer Space’ as part of the Second Sunday Science Lecture Series at the museum. Visitors will learn about the annual event named the Perseid Meteor Shower from UIS Professor John Martin on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. at Dickson Mounds Museum in the auditorium. Later that night, join Professor Martin on the shore of nearby Thompson Lake at Emiquon for the annual TFSE Star Party to view the Perseid Meteor Shower. The star party will begin at 9 p.m. at the Lakeside Observatory boat landing area on Thompson Lake at the Emiquon Preserve. Participants are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring their own lawn chairs and bug spray. Program admission is free. For more information, call the Dickson Mounds Museum at 309-547-3721.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop: The IDNR invites women to register now for the ‘Becoming an Outdoors Woman’ workshop scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton. BOW workshops are designed to provide introductory instruction in many outdoor related activities. Classes are taught in a non-competitive and non-threatening environment by experienced instructors. The cost is $160 per person, which includes the workshop, meals, lodging and transportation during the event. Workshop and registration materials can be found on the IDNR website at

Back to School with the IDNR: School teachers can utilize the educational opportunities of the IDNR this fall to help bring teaching to life. Grants for field trips and schoolyard wildlife habitat development, Illinois-specific lesson plans, resources trunks for loan, posters and other publications and ENTICE workshops for teachers are just some of the options available. All lessons and materials are developed with the Illinois Learning Standards as their foundation.

Go to the IDNR Education webpage at

ICF Hall of Fame on September 15: Tickets are available now for the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame Event and Fundraiser on Sat., Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Inn in East Peoria. Two new members of the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame will be inducted at the event: Warren Gale of Orion and Allie Lymenstull of Quincy. The fundraiser will also feature silent and live auctions including firearms from Browning, Benelli, Winchester and Savage; bows and archery equipment; wildlife prints; hunting trips; outdoors gear; hunting trips; jewelry and household items. For tickets and more information, check the ICF website at or phone 217-785-2003.

ISM Science Series: The Illinois State Museum Science Series program “Peoria and the War of 1812” will be presented on Wed., Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at the museum Research and Collections Center in Springfield. The program, presented by Dickson Mounds Museum director Dr. Michael D. Wiant traces events leading to the destruction of Indian villages on Lake Peoria and an attack on the small French community of Peoria. In hindsight, these events mark a pivotal change in the relationship between Native Americans and Americans and represent a harbinger of the re-location of all of the tribes once-resident in Illinois to locations west of the Mississippi River. The program is free and open to the public at the ISM Research and Collections Center, 1011 East Ash Street, Springfield. For more information, phone 217-782-0061 or go online to

Super Saturdays: Bring the whole family to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield on Sat., Aug. 11 for the ‘Super Saturdays’ event ‘Cityscapes: Build it Bigger’ from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Children will be invited to design their own passports and travel around the world to discover some amazing cities and their architecture. ‘Super Saturdays’ are especially recommended for children ages 4-8. Parents and families are encouraged to participate. Registration is not required for this free event. Call 217-782-6044 for more information. The Illinois State Museum is located in the State Capitol Complex in Springfield.

Oil and Gas Board: The Illinois Oil and Gas Advisory Board will meet on Thurs., Aug. 9, 2012 at 10 a.m. at the offices of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association, 824 E. Ill. Highway 15, Mt. Vernon, IL. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, phone 217/782-3718.

ESPB Meeting: The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board will meet on Fri., Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, 30239 South State Route 53, in Wilmington, IL. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, phone 217/785-8687.

Visit Conservation World: Enjoy free family-oriented entertainment and youth activities at Conservation World during the Illinois State Fair, Aug. 10-19 in Springfield. Kids can try to catch a fish or practice their skills at the archery and BB gun ranges. Visitors will find plenty to do, and a shady place to sit on a park bench and relax while visiting Conservation World – open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. each day of the Illinois State Fair, Aug. 10-19.

Sportsman’s Raffle: Get your ticket now for the 2012 Illinois Conservation Foundation Sportsman’s Raffle and help expand youth conservation education and outdoor recreation programs in Illinois. Sportsman’s Raffle tickets are $100 each and prizes – including a grand prize of up to $100,000 – will be presented at a drawing in Sangamon County on December 6, 2012. The next “early bird” prizes will be awarded for tickets drawn in Sangamon County on October 4, 2012. Proceeds from the raffle will support programs at the ICF Torstenson Family Youth Conservation Education Center in Pecatonica, IL. The raffle is being conducted in accordance with the Raffles Act. All business operations of the raffle take place exclusively in Sangamon County. Raffle tickets are available online at and by mail at: Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

Follow the IDNR: Keep up to date with events and information on outdoor recreation and natural resources in Illinois through IDNR postings on Facebook and Twitter. Find us at

Made in Hollywood Travels to the Toledo Museum of Art Oct. 7, 2012–Jan. 20, 2013

TOLEDO, OHIO – Picture it: the golden age of Hollywood where the likes of Clark Gable and Greta Garbo were transformed into gods and goddesses who ruled the screens and stole the hearts of adoring movie-goers. Equally significant but generally less recognizable are the photographers who helped launch these icons into stardom through their timeless photographs.

Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation travels to the Toledo Museum of Art, showcasing more than 90 prints by the most important photographers working in Hollywood from 1920–1960. This exhibition, on display Oct. 7, 2012–Jan. 20, 2013 in Galleries 4, 5 and 9, celebrates the finest portraits and still photography drawn from the London-based archive of late author and collector John Kobal.

The show highlights the importance of photography through the classic images of idols such as Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart.

“For those familiar with Garbo, Dietrich, Swanson, Cooper, Harlow, Hepburn, Bogart, the photographs will seem like old friends,” said Tom Loeffler, assistant curator of works on paper. “For those unfamiliar, the shear mastery of the medium by more than 30 different photographers—all able to portray variously the vulnerability, invincibility, sexuality and humor of the stars—will astonish them.”

Master photographers George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull and Ruth Harriet Louise memorialized these leading actors and actresses through their iconic imagery, utilizing dramatic lighting, unique camera angles and deft retouching. They captured the magic that Hollywood symbolized by immortalizing the stars, the scenes and the sets that American studios created.

The traveling exhibition was organized in 2008 by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Also shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London—where it brought in a record-setting amount of visitors—Made in Hollywood makes its final stop at TMA. Karen Sinsheimer, SBMA curator of photography, and Robert Dance, film historian and co-author of Garbo’s Garbos, co-curated the show.

Kobal, founder of the fine art archive, was born in Austria where he developed a love for movies as a boy. At the age of 18 he met his first celebrity, Dietrich, by posing as a journalist and speaking in German to get her attention. This would be only one of his many encounters with some of the top actresses and actors in Hollywood.

Later, he sought to understand the vital role photographers play in the creation of movie stars by shifting the focus away from the icons themselves.

“John Kobal was a pioneer, being among the first to examine seriously the photographs taken to promote the stars and their studios,” said Sinsheimer. “More than any other individual, Kobal was committed to recording the talents of Hollywood’s leading photographers. Without his tireless collecting and assembling of original material, much of Hollywood history would be lost.”

The works in the exhibition were selected from The John Kobal Foundation, which has archived more than 4,500 original vintage photographs. Most works in the show are original, vintage 11x14” prints. There also are eight large-scale images printed specifically for the exhibition from original 8x10” negatives.

Tickets to the exhibition are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Children 5 and under are admitted free with a paid adult admission. TMA members receive free unlimited admission to Made in Hollywood. Combination tickets, which allow discounted admittance to Made in Hollywood and Manet: Portraying Life, opening the same day, are also available.

The Toledo showing of Made in Hollywood is made possible by the members of the Toledo Museum of Art. Sponsored in part by Taylor Cadillac, the exhibition is also supported in part by the Ohio Arts Council’s sustainable grant program funded by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The companion book Glamour of the Gods (hardcover $65, softcover $45), published by Steidl, featuring more than 200 images drawn from the Kobal archive accompanies the exhibition and is available in the Museum Store.

No Asian carp found in western Lake Erie

After a week of intensive electrofishing and gill netting activities in Sandusky Bay, Maumee Bay and their main tributaries, officials have found no bighead or silver Asian carps in western Lake Erie. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) continue to work together to assess the current status of bighead and silver carp within western Lake Erie bays and select tributaries.

“The sampling results are very encouraging, especially since we intensely focused on areas where we believed we had the greatest chances of finding these fish,” said Rich Carter, ODNR executive administrator of fish management and research. “We look forward to the results of the environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis that will help us define future actions. We appreciate all of the efforts the Service has provided in assessing the status of Asian carp in Lake Erie.”

“We are committed to supporting our state DNR partners in the field,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “Service staff will continue to work side-by-side with DNR employees both on the water and in the labs as we try to answer the question, ‘Are there any live Asian carp in the Sandusky and Maumee areas?’ This week’s sampling has not provided any physical evidence that Asian carp are in these two waterways.”

Jim Dexter, Chief of the Fisheries Division, MDNR noted that this effort presented an “excellent effort to accompany the more sensitive eDNA testing.” The MDNR looks to this effort as a baseline of information and as a foundation upon which to build any future sampling efforts.

Fish sampling activities took place in response to the six water samples taken from Sandusky and north Maumee bays in August 2011 that tested positive for the presence of Asian carp eDNA. Additional eDNA sampling activities occurred July 30-Aug. 4, and those findings will be announced in a few weeks.

MDNR and ODNR are committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the region’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

New Craig Lake State Park (Mich.) yurt now available for campers

Craig Lake State Park in Baraga County has added an alternative to the traditional camping experience with the completion of its new 20-foot Keewaydin Lake yurt. Yurts are sturdy, round, tent-like structures that can be traced back through history for some 3,000 years.

The new yurt is located one mile from the boat launch and is the second yurt structure to be put up at Craig Lake, a remote state park near Michigamme that offers non-motorized wilderness camping, padding and hiking. The park’s other yurt is located on Teddy Lake.

Work on the new Keewaydin Lake yurt began in September 2011. The yurt site includes a deck for wildlife viewing and an ADA-accessible ramp.

The Keewaydin Lake yurt comes complete with a twin size bunk bed, full size bunk bed, a table and six chairs as well as a storage cabinet. The yurt currently rents for $60 per night. Future plans include adding a woodstove to make the yurt available year-round.

Reservations for the Keewaydin Lake yurt can be made by phone at 800-447-2757, or online at

Bavarian Inn Lodge Expands Fun Center for Late 2012 Opening

Bavarian Inn Lodge, America’s largest Bavarian-themed resort, is expanding yet again by making an exciting multi-million dollar investment to its Family Fun Center.

The highlight of the renovation is focused in the pool area, with the addition of two dramatic water slides. Guests will also enjoy a fun facelift to the mini-golf area. Both projects are planned for completion before Thanksgiving 2012.

“We keep upping the fun factor for our guests,” said Judy Zehnder Keller, president and founder of Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge. “We focus on providing entertainment for the entire family. That’s what separates us from the pack. Our new initiatives will offer enjoyment for all ages and abilities.”

Work crews are currently onsite with daily activity taking place in preparation for a Thanksgiving weekend debut. While two pools are closing down for the expansion, three pools remain open at the seven-acre, multi-faceted resort as it continues to host guests, providing the highest customer satisfaction standards in the industry. Swimming, video games, 18-hole indoor miniature golf, and Ratskeller Restaurant activities and food service are unaffected during the remodeling.

“Come look through the peek holes and check out our website for a glimpse of the future,” said Zehnder Keller. “Our renovations are so extensive, yet they will only take three months to complete. But until then, we’re open for business. All we ask is that you ‘Pardon our dust.’”

Since its opening in 1986, the Bavarian Inn Lodge has undergone five additions, expanding the number of lodging rooms to 360, expanding the number of pools to five, adding the Family Fun Center, the 18-hole indoor miniature golf, Ratskeller Restaurant and full service conference center. The Lodge has celebrated more than 1,600 weddings and thousands of special events and meetings.

Spanning more than 70 years in hospitality service, four generations of the Tiny and Dorothy Zehnder family have owned and operated the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Lodge. With more than 900 employees currently on the payroll, Dorothy Zehnder (Generation Two) is working with her children (Generation Three) and four grandchildren (Generation Four) as full- time, on-site owners. This is a total of nine owners working in the company full time.

“We are so pleased to announce this newest investment at the Lodge. Just as we have entertained our guests and raised our children in this business, we are enabling our children to raise their children and entertain our guests’ children. In today’s fast paced world, who can say that?” commented Zehnder Keller.

Learn more about the expansion by visiting

IDNR and Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative Team up to Install Osprey Nesting Platforms at Sangchris Lake State Park

ROCHESTER, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), in cooperation with the Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, recently installed two elevated platforms intended to attract nesting ospreys at Sangchris Lake State Park southeast of Rochester.

Ospreys – a bird of prey listed as an endangered species in Illinois – nest in large trees, on rock formations, or on artificial structures near lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, where the adults feed on fish.  Elevated platforms like those installed by the Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative at Sangchris Lake have been used successfully by nesting osprey at a number of locations in the Midwest, including at the Lake Shelbyville Sullivan Beach area in central Illinois.

“Park visitors, wildlife watchers and our IDNR site staff and biologists have seen ospreys spending time in and around Sangchris Lake during migrations each spring and fall, and we hope installation of these platforms will encourage more nesting pairs to produce chicks here,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.  “We appreciate the cooperation of the RECC in providing the utility poles and platforms and installing them at Sangchris Lake as part of this wildlife restoration effort.”

“Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative has always had a good working relationship with the State of Illinois and Sangchris State Park, and we are happy to assist the park with the installations of the osprey nest platforms to help build the population of these beautiful birds,” said RECC Manager of Operations and Maintenance Louis L. DeLaby. 

Adult ospreys –sometimes mistaken for the larger bald eagle – are generally 21-26 inches long with a black upper body and mostly-white head, chest and underbelly.  Like other birds of prey, the population of ospreys in the U.S. has rebounded since the use of the pesticide DDT was discontinued in the early 1970s.  No osprey nests were seen in Illinois from the early 1950s until the mid-1980s, and efforts like the platform installation at Sangchris Lake are used to attract even more nests in the state.

Historic Camp Tosebo Celebrates 100th Birthday with Community Party

Former Campers, Family, Friends & General Public Invited to Event (Saturday, Aug. 25)

PORTAGE LAKE, Mich. – In 1912, Camp Tosebo opened as a private camp for boys – today, it is one of the most historic and treasured vacation retreats in Northern Michigan.

Former campers, history buffs and the general public are invited to celebrate at Camp Tosebo’s 100th Birthday Party on Saturday, August 25, starting at 1pm. The gathering will be held at the Tosebo Clubhouse at 7228 Miller Rd., Manistee. Ice cream, cake, and refreshments will be served as folks visit with old friends, play rounds of 'Tom Thumb' miniature golf, tour the historic Camp buildings, stroll the Tosebo forest trails, or take a walk down to the Boathouse to celebrate 100 years of this very special place.

Located in historic Red Park on the southern shore of pristine Portage Lake in Manistee County, Camp Tosebo was established in 1912 as a private summer camp for the Todd Seminary for Boys located in Woodstock, Illinois. During its years as a summer camp, Tosebo attracted boys from all over the country, and even though the Todd School was closed in 1953, the summer camp carried on with its eight-week summer program for another twenty-four years. Since the camp closed in 1977, the property has been used as a family retreat, a bed & breakfast and since 2004 as a very popular vacation rental retreat.

Please visit and for information, history, pictures, and rental information. Please feel free to call 616.644.8239 or email for more information regarding Camp Tosebo.

IDNR to Honor Volunteers at Illinois State Fair Award Ceremony

Annual Outstanding Volunteer Awards at Conservation World on Aug. 18
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will honor Outstanding Volunteers of the Year for their volunteer service to the IDNR during a ceremony at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Saturday, Aug. 18.

“The annual volunteer awards program is one of the ways in which we say ‘thank you’ to some of the great volunteers who do great work at our state parks, state museums, and all over outdoor Illinois,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Whether helping youngsters learn about wildlife and outdoor recreation, providing stewardship at natural areas, or assisting biologists in fish and wildlife management, these and many other volunteers provide a valuable service to their fellow citizens throughout Illinois.”

The volunteer awards ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18 in Conservation World at the Illinois Green Industry Association Outdoor Amphitheater. This year’s Outstanding Volunteers of the Year are:

RALPH BUETTNER of Waterloo has been volunteering with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) and IDNR for seven years. During this period, Ralph has contributed more than 2,000 hours doing a variety of natural resource activities including stewardship, monitoring, protection support, research support, and outreach education. In addition to his activities directly for and with the INPC and IDNR, Ralph is a founding and current board member of local conservation group CLIFFTOP, an important partner in natural areas conservation. Ralph Buettner is also a participant on the Southwestern Illinois Wildlife Action Plan partnership and has put significant effort into stewardship of his own 251-acre natural area. Staff members with the INPC and IDNR Division of Natural Heritage consider Ralph Buettner to be an exceptional team member in southwestern Illinois. Ralph’s work with and on behalf of the INPC and IDNR have provided advocacy and helped build relationships and partnerships among staff, volunteer groups, researchers, landowners and the public with positive impacts on thousands of acres of important high-quality natural areas and wild lands in southwestern Illinois.

MARCIA and KEN POLHAMUS of Galena are this year’s Safety Education Outstanding Volunteers of the Year. Marcia and Ken are well-known among IDNR staff for their years of valuable work on IDNR programs and projects.

The Polhamuses became certified Hunter Safety Education Instructors in February 2005, co-teaching 12 classes and certifying 519 students. The magnetic personalities of Marcia and Ken Polhamus show in all the work they do. They work as a team and share their passion in getting more women and youth involved in hunting, a key to the future of the hunting. As Hunter Safety Education Instructors, they are very active in organizing and teaching classes in Jo Daviess and Stephenson counties. They work closely with the IDNR Regional Volunteer Services Coordinator to recruit and train new instructors for the program. Marcia and Ken Polhamus are self-motivated team leaders and their energy and desire to provide instruction help motivate other instructors to be active in the program. They offer classes in the spring and fall prior to the busiest hunting seasons. They make the learning experience an enjoyable one for all individuals in the classes and have received many positive remarks from parents and students.

ILLINOIS BEACH STATE PARK CAMPGROUND HOSTS are being honored for their exemplary service on the evening of June 30, 2011, when a devastating storm with winds up to 90 miles per hour struck Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. The severe storm uprooted, knocked over and sheared off hundreds of trees throughout the park, with the most significant damage occurring in the campground. With only one IDNR park staff member on duty at the time of the storm, the campground hosts took charge and assisted the IDNR Conservation Police in checking on the well-being of campers and escorting them out of the campground and onto the main beach parking lot for safety. The campground hosts provided support and encouragement to campers during the entire evening in the aftermath of the storm. Conservation Police were quick to realize how instrumental the campground hosts were in assisting in the safe evacuation of the campground. The campground hosts in the park at the time of the storm were DICK and DARLENE BELL, DICK and JOAN CLAY, PETER and KATHY HRU, TOM and LINDA MASON, RANDY and TERRIE SIMMONS, and MIKE and CATHIE YELK.

SCOTT BRYANT and THE MIGRATORY WATERFOWL HUNTERS of Alton have volunteered hundreds of hours, including more than 200 hours in 2012, for the free Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton. The 2012 Family Fishing Fair exceeded past participation numbers, with more than 2,000 youth plus nearly 2,500-3,000 adults in attendance. The Migratory Waterfowl Hunters provided 15 volunteers to help children learn how to catch a fish at the bluegill pond station. The group has dedicated assistance with the Free Family Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette for the last three years, logging more than 600 hours for the event to help facilitate, teach, mentor and develop children’s appreciation of fishing and the outdoors. The group is also instrumental in a number of other IDNR programs and projects, thanks to the leadership of President Scott Bryant and members of the Migratory Waterfowl Hunters.

GLEN McNELLY and JARED McNELLY of Grafton have been involved with many restoration projects at Pere Marquette State Park as part of their business, McNelly Contracting, LLC. Recently, they volunteered their time and talents to work jointly with the IDNR staff and the Friends of Pere Marquette State Park Foundation in restoring a park entrance sign, which was once a local landmark. The sign had fallen into disrepair in recent years, and many area residents expressed concern and requested that it be preserved. Glen and Jared stepped forward to organize the project, with Glen arranging purchase of cedar lumber through a local saw mill and then delivering the lumber to the IDNR Region 4 Hot Shot Crew, where the sign lettering was inscribed by IDNR staff using a computerized router.

The McNellys took it from there, re-constructing and staining the sign for installation at Pere Marquette State Park.

JIM TALLMAN and SHARON KOENIG are among the valued volunteers who help stage the Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette State Park each June. JIM TALLMAN of Jerseyville and members of his VENTURING CREW NO. 9093 have volunteered with the fishing event for 20 of its 21 years. Jim Tallman has brought volunteers, along with valuable knowledge and fresh ideas intended to enhance the annual event. The largest group ever of members of the Venturing Crew helped staff the trout pond at the fishing fair this year. SHARON KOENIG of Dow and members of her VENTURING CREW NO. 2032 have volunteered for the past eight years at the Family Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette. Sharon Koenig was a Venturing Crew member and became an adult leader and advisor of her own Venturing Crew when she turned 21. She has volunteered at the fishing fair trout pond since she was 14 years old. Both Venturing Crews volunteer tirelessly throughout the day each year at the fishing fair, helping children learn how to catch fish.

DR. BILL ROE of Pinckneyville contacted the site staff at Pyramid State Recreation Area about whether there was anything area people could do to help promote Pyramid. The site drafted a wish list and Dr. Roe took it from there, working countless hours soliciting volunteers to serve as members of a group that is now called the Friends of Pyramid State Park. In two years, Dr. Bill Roe and members of the Friends of Pyramid State Park have raised more than $12,000 for a water line to serve the site’s field trial areas, a huge help to the staff at Pyramid, since they no longer have to haul water during field trials. Dr. Roe solicited the funds and commitments for the planned installation of two cabins in Pyramid’s Heron Campground.

LORI SPEAR of Springfield has been a volunteer at the Illinois State Museum since 2008. She was a regular volunteer in the Museum’s children’s area known as “A Place for Discovery” until 2011 before becoming a volunteer in the Museum’s new children’s area, the “Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum.” Lori also volunteers at the Museum’s monthly “Super Saturdays” program for children. Lori’s background in early childhood education makes her a natural fit for volunteering in the Play Museum and for helping at “Super Saturdays.” Lori Spear’s warm and friendly presence puts visitors at ease, and the understanding of children’s development levels means that she understands young visitors and how best to help them learn.

MARK FLOTOW of Springfield is a volunteer in the Anthropology Section at the Illinois State Museum’s Research and Collections Center. Supervisor Dawn Cobb said about Mark Flotow: “Mark has been a terrific help to me in continuing the analysis of human skeletal collections that the Museum curates. He has finished a large project that I began several years ago and a lack of funding prevented me from finishing the documentation. In addition, he is working on different collections as they are transferred to the Museum to ensure that all information is gathered for our various…databases.” The ISM Anthropology Section has benefited from Mark’s help and he exemplifies how important “behind-the-scenes” volunteers are to the Illinois State Museum.

AYLA KHAN of Springfield is a Museum Junior Volunteer of the Year at the Illinois State Museum. Ayla is a junior at Glenwood High School, volunteering at the Museum’s “Super Saturdays” program. She has a special interest in art and a special gift for helping children with arts and crafts projects and other hands-on activities. Ayla is warm, caring, patient and very creative. The Illinois State Museum appreciates her great attitude and willingness to volunteer during such a busy time in her life.

RUSSELL McCLELLAN of Springfield is a volunteer in the Anthropology Section at the Illinois State Museum’s Research and Collections Center. Supervisor DeeAnn Watt said of Russell McClellan: “For many years the Anthropology Section had wanted to enter all of the information from the Pictorial Survey Books into a searchable database. These wonderful images were taken in the 1930s and 1940s at various sites in 12 different states, including Illinois. Early this year, Russ completed entering all of the site and caption information from the 26 albums into an Access database (nearly 6,000 records). In March, he began entering all site and caption information for the University of Chicago Photograph Collection. The reason this work is so important is because we are now able to search for images of a specific site, or of a particular person, in a second. The old method of finding a particular image was to physically read all of the captions and that could take hours.” Russell McClellan’s work has and will save countless hours for researchers and other Museum staff.

The following Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award winner could not attend this year’s ceremony and was presented with their award in a private ceremony:

SALMON UNLIMITED of Bartlett volunteers, for 30 years, have dedicated their time and effort to assist the staff of the IDNR Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery in Topeka with its annual fin clip. Hatchery managers report that no group has ever been more worthy of the title “Volunteer of the Year” than the dedicated sportsmen of Salmon Unlimited. Fin clipping of hatchery-produced fish is tough, tedious, time consuming work. Salmon Unlimited volunteers make the effort every year help with the marking. The dedicated group of more than 30 volunteers can accomplish in a few days what would take the hatchery staff more than two weeks to complete. Salmon Unlimited members are an enthusiastic and energetic group that has fin-clipped millions of trout and salmon since the hatchery opened in 1983. We salute these volunteers and greatly appreciate their efforts. The Salmon Unlimited volunteers have become a reliable part of the operation and play a vital role in IDNR’s effort to maintain a sustainable salmon sport fishery in Lake Michigan.

To learn more about the IDNR Volunteer Program, check the website at this link:

Camping at Muskegon State Park

Our sandy campsite at Muskegon State Park.
A couple of weekends ago we camped at Muskegon State Park. It was an adventure, to say the least.

The campground was beautiful, but there were some problems that closed the bathrooms and showers on occasion.
Our RV (a 2000 Trail Lite Bantam hybrid) also had some issues, but they were of my own doing.

Lastly, I tried a new campfire pie recipe that ... well, let's just say it didn't live up the to pregame hype.

Okay, enough with the teaser introduction to this post. Here's the nuts and bolts.

We camped at Muskegon State Park, arriving on a Saturday and leaving on a Monday. My parents camped with us in their Outback travel trailer. Actually, we were fortunate in that respect. When we reserved our sites a few months ago, there were only two left and they were back to back with each other. A short little trail connected the two, so it was nice little setup for camping together.

Muskegon State Park is one of Michigan's more popular campgrounds for good reason. It sits on the shore of Lake Michigan and its massive beach features smooth, fine sand free of debris, rocks and other feet-killers. The lake was about as perfect for swimming as a Great Lake can get. Its bottom was smooth sand, and it was shallow, maybe only getting to 4 feet deep a good 100 yards off shore. On the days we swam we enjoyed 2-3 foot waves before a storm rolling in from the distance chased us out of the water.

There are actually two separate campgrounds in the park. We stayed in the Channel Campground (139 sites); the other is the Lake Michigan Campground (105 sites). The only thing I can tell you about the Lake Michigan Campground is that when we drove past it on the way to the Channel Campground, we noticed it's tucked into old-growth trees with plenty of hills and valleys. We saw no big rigs, and because of the number of tents and pop-ups we figured the campsites must have been pretty compact.

A view from atop a sand dune at the smallest loop of the
three in the Channel Campground. Muskegon Lake is in the
distance, with the channel leading to Lake Michigan on the right.
Our campground, the Channel Campground, actually bordered the channel leading from Lake Michigan into Muskegon Lake. Unlike the forest campground, our campground sat on sandy soil and various scrub brush and bushy trees. We had some shade, but if you go you'd better make sure your awning works. There also were paved pads, but don't forget your outdoor carpet/rug/mat.

Again, the state park was beautiful and we enjoyed it, but the problems with the bathrooms/showers were a major bummer. Apparently, the "lift station" was broken. Whatever. It was not fun. We used our RV bathroom so it was not big deal, but it was an inconvenience you certainly don't expect from a Michigan State Park.

As for the issues with my camper, they were the bookends for our weekend trip. When we first arrived Saturday afternoon and began to set up camp, I noticed the plug was a bit loose from the power cord that connects the RV to our tow vehicle (a V-8 Trailblazer EXT). How did I notice it was loose? Well, the sparks, smell of singed metal and plastic were one giveaway, and when the plug basically came off in my hand, well, that was another sign.

A good RVer is ready for these things. I (extremely quickly) unplugged the RV from the campground power post and spent a good amount of time reconnecting the colored wires to the color-coded terminals on the plug receptacle. A million hours later and it was good to go. Oh, thank goodness I had the foresight to include a Leatherman-type pocket tool because it had a screwdriver small enough to remove the plug cover from the terminal receptacle.

The other RV problem happened Monday morning when it was time to go home. My wife was in the shower (she actually had the last shower before they closed the showers for that morning), and the kids were still asleep. We were in a bit of a time crunch, so I started taking down camp outside the RV. I had done about everything I could, so decided to hitch up.

To make a long story short, I didn't raise the camper up high enough, so when I backed into it the ball knocked the camper off the block of wood under my tongue jack (like an idiot, I had already removed and stored the wheel blocks). The tongue jack hit the paved pad with a thud. On the bright side, it woke up the kids (who were fine). On the dark side, the tongue jack bent enough that it was inoperable.

Charles "Pa" Ingalls (aka Michael Landon), the
original RVer. Just remember: "What would Pa do?"
Again, us RVers are resourceful. I like to think of it this way. Every time we go anywhere with the camper, I'm like Charles "Pa" Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie and we were in the wagon headed to Walnut Grove. If we were to break down, then I would have to make whatever repairs were necessary so my family can continue on their way. Kind of like I was wearing a "What Would Pa Do?" bracelet.

Well, my Pa and I tried to straighten the tongue jack with the jack from the Trailblazer. Didn't work. Actually, it broke the gears in the tongue jack. Great. Now "What Would Pa Do?" Well, this "Pa" said a few choice words, then raised the camper high enough to pull the bent jack shaft out from under the rest of the mechanism. It was enough to get us home where I can replace the tongue jack as soon as I find the time.

As for the final fiasco, the campfire pie (or hobo pie or camper pie or whatever people call them) was supposed to be a dessert. Chocolate pudding and a little bit of cherries between two buttered pieces of bread, cooked to perfection over the campfire. Well, it was quite a bit messy, not all that tasty and ... well ... I guess the best way to say it is it was not a good thing the campground's bathrooms were broken.

So that was it, the good, the bad and the ugly of our trip to Muskegon State Park. Would we ever go back? Absolutely! But I'll get a spotter to help me hitch up from here on out.

Top Ideas for Exploring the Great Outdoors with Metal Detectors in the Great Lakes Region

Industry professional and avid Metal Detectorist Michael Bernzweig
of with the XP DEUS Wireless metal detector.

No matter where your camping adventures take you in the Great Lakes region, there are many places to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Michael Bernzweig of shares with Gr8lakes Campers some exciting ways to enjoy the hobby of Metal Detecting throughout the Great Lakes area.

There are many great recreational spots to choose from, so first decide where you plan to use your metal detector. Do you expect to stay on dry land or take your equipment in or near the water? If you are hunting on the land, you can choose from a good variety of land based metal detectors. Most of the models offered by include waterproof search coils. If your outdoor activities take you deeper in to the water, get a model that is completely waterproof. It is interesting to note that some water proof metal detectors are appropriate for snorkeling and diving as deep as 200 feet.

Where to hunt in the Great Lakes Region? 
There are lots of lakes, ponds, beaches, parks and public areas to choose from for your adventures. You should check with a local metal detecting club to find the best spots where you can hunt. There are quite a few clubs in the great lakes region.

Illinois: the Great Lakes Historical Recovery Club
Indiana: Hoosier Exploration and Recovery
Michigan: Michigan Treasure Hunters
Minnesota: Gopher State Treasure Hunters
New York: Genesee Valley Treasure Seekers
Ohio: Dayton Diggers
Pennsylvania: Southeastern Pennsylvania Historical Recovery Group
Wisconsin: Mid State Metal Detector Club

What is the best metal detector to begin with? 
Metal detecting can be an exciting and peaceful outdoor pastime. Treasure hunting with a metal detector can also be a lucrative activity. So how do you get started? Industry veteran, Bernzweig has provided some insightful hints. First, decide what type of metal detecting you plan to do. Will you be looking for coins and jewelry? Or will you be mainly looking for relics? Do you want to hunt down a meteorites or killer gold nuggets? Every style of metal detector is designed purposely for the specific style of detecting that you plan to do. For instance, the Fisher CZ-21 is an ideal unit for hunting in the water. The Garrett AT Pro is a hybrid which is ideal for both land and water hunting.

To finish, you will want to choose your budget. Land based metal detectors start at less than $200. Completely waterproof models can start a bit higher and can easily top $1,000 plus. Make sure to factor in funds for a few important accessories to get started. For example, at the beach you will want a sand scoop. On the land you will want a strong trowel for recoveries. Finally, you will want to select a high quality metal detecting headphone like the Audiophone II. Headphones let you hear the oldest, deepest targets. No matter where your adventures take you, have fun and be safe.

Makanda resident honored with Illinois DNR's Todd Fink Memorial Award

Margaret Anderson of Makanda, Illinois is this year’s recipient of the Todd Fink Memorial Award, Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) Executive Director Mark Spangler announced today.

Margaret Anderson is a graduate student in the Department of Forestry at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC). She will receive a $500.00 stipend from the ICF for travel costs associated with research and registration costs.

Ms. Anderson’s research involves restoring giant cane to Illinois. Cane is a native species of bamboo that once formed extensive patches throughout the southeastern United States, including southern Illinois. Today, only 2 percent of the former abundance of cane exists due to land-use changes and reduction of wildfires. Margaret Anderson’s research will help identify important biological and ecological factors that affect cane.

“Giant cane is an important ecological target for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,” said Don McFall, chief of the IDNR Division of Natural Heritage. ”Cane thickets make great wildlife cover and some bird species, like the Swainson’s warbler, need it to survive. This warbler is now endangered in Illinois partly due to the lack of cane.”

The Todd Fink Memorial Fund was established to honor Todd Fink, a highly regarded biologist and ornithologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, who died in 1995 at the age of 36. The award goes to recipients whose graduate research at SIUC focuses on threatened or endangered species of plants or animals. Since 1996, seventeen graduate students from SIUC have received stipends from the Todd Fink Memorial Fund to support research on Illinois’ rarest species.

To contribute to the Todd Fink Memorial Fund or to learn more about the ICF, which is an IRS 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone 217-785-2003.