Volunteer stewardship opportunities for December are available at Michigan state parks

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites residents to get out this December and enjoy Southwest Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas, while helping to protect their habitat. Volunteers are needed for stewardship workdays, which are a great way for area residents and park visitors to GO Get Outdoors, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get a bit of exercise.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work (including long pants and sturdy closed-toed shoes) and bring gloves and drinking water. To get information about the activities on each workday, find directions or park information, or to check the Volunteer Steward calendar of events, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.”

Experience is not required, and training and equipment are provided. Workday dates, times and locations are as follows:

Southwest Parks
  • Saturday, Dec. 1: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 2: Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 8: Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 9: Ionia State Recreation Area (Ionia County), 1 to 4 p.m. 
Interested volunteers should contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the workdays. 

Southeast Parks
  • Saturday, Dec. 1: Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 2: Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County), 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 8: Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County), 9 a.m. to noon
  • Saturday, Dec. 8: Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County), 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 9: Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 1 to 4 p.m.

Any questions should be directed to Laurel Malvitz-Draper at 248-359-9057 or malvitzl@michigan.gov.

Boyne Highlands now open for Skiing and Snowboarding

Boyne Highlands Resort of Harbor Springs, Michigan’s largest ski area, opened Tuesday, November 27 with free skiing and snowboarding from noon to 4:30 p.m. The resort is expected to be the first ski area in Lower Michigan to open terrain for the 2012-13 season. Boyne Highlands is opening the Heather slope with lift service on the high-speed Heather Express quad.

Several nights of cold weather have allowed Boyne Highlands to take full advantage of its powerful snowmaking system led by the proprietary Boyne Low-E fan guns. The resort has been making snow around the clock, 68 consecutive hours, in preparation for Tuesday’s opening day.

“The efficiency, quantity and quality of snow that our Boyne Low-E fan guns produce is what enables us to open early each season,” said Brad Keen, president and general manager of Boyne Highlands Resort. “We’re always eager and excited to welcome guests back to the slopes as soon as possible and with the best conditions.”

Boyne Highlands is pleased to offer skiing and riding for free during tomorrow’s opening day hours of 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets can be obtained at the resort’s Main Lodge desk. On Wednesday, November 28 and Thursday, November 29, lift hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lift tickets on Wednesday and Thursday are $25 for ages nine and above, free for ages eight and under and seniors 70+. The Heather trail and Heather Express chairlift remain open on Wednesday and Thursday, with the opening of expanded terrain by Friday.

Boyne Highlands has been recognized by the readers of OnTheSnow.com as “Midwest’s Favorite Downhill Terrain” and named “Best Ski Resort in Michigan” by The Oakland Press.

For the 2012-13 season, Boyne Highlands added another 40 of the high-efficiency, low-energy Boyne Low-E fan guns. This technology has led Boyne Highlands to be the first resort in northern Lower Michigan to open for the ski season the past four years. Also this season, Boyne Highlands, along with Boyne Mountain, are the first resorts in northern Michigan to introduce Burton Riglet Parks with specially designed features to introduce children ages 3 to 6 to snowboarding. A new spa facility is available to guests this winter offering massage, body treatments, facials and seasonal treatments. Additionally, the Main Lodge at Boyne Highlands, offering ski-in/ski-out accommodations, has undergone renovations and a number of guest rooms include new carpet, fixtures, fresh paint, new drapes and decorative features.

Sister resort, Boyne Mountain located in Boyne Falls, is expected to open on Friday, November 30 at 9 a.m. More details about Boyne Mountain’s opening day terrain can be found at www.BOYNE.com.

For updates and reports on snow conditions, a look at live web cams, event information, as well as packages, please visit www.BOYNE.com for more information, call 800.GO.BOYNE (462-6963).

Boyne Highlands Resort is a family-owned, four-season resort destination established in 1963 and located in Harbor Springs, Michigan. With 435 skiable acres, Boyne Highlands is Michigan’s largest ski area and also offers Lower Michigan’s highest vertical terrain. Resort attractions include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, tubing, Zipline Adventures, 81 holes of golf, spa, lift-serviced mountain biking and Bike Park, kids programs, lodging, meeting and wedding facilities and real estate. Boyne Highlands has been recognized by the readers of OnTheSnow.com as Midwest’s Favorite Downhill Terrain, named the Best Ski Resort in Michigan by The Oakland Press and offers Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play. Boyne Highlands is a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions. Learn earn more at http://www.boyne.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/boynehighlands.

Walk in a Winter Wonderland during Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

Tickets on sale now for December 1, 7-8, 14-16, 18-23 and 26-27, 2012

Wipe away the bah-humbugs with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit during The Henry Ford’s annual Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, located in Dearborn, Michigan.

See why USA Today and Reader’s Digest named this popular event one of the top ten holiday destinations for families. The event runs December 1, 7-8, 14-16, 18-23 and 26-27, 2012 from 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Ticket prices are $17 for adult members and $12.75 for youth members, $20 for adult non-members and $15 for youth non-members. Children four and under are free. To purchase tickets, call (313) 982-6001 or visit www.thehenryford.org.

Holiday Nights transforms Greenfield Village into a holiday scene from the 19th and 20th centuries. Streets are lit by the soft glow of lanterns leading you into the historic homes decorated for the season and filled with the scents of evergreen and freshly baked holiday treats. Take a ride in this winter wonderland via a Model T or on a horse-drawn carriage complete with caroling. As you make your way throughout the Village, don’t forget to stop by the Robert Frost home to visit with Santa and his reindeer.

Visitors can lace up their skates and take a turn or two on the Village’s ice skating rink. Listen as traditional holiday tunes echo through the air as Victorian-era carolers stroll through the Village and the Dodworth Saxhorn Band serenades visitors down Main Street. Food stations are planted along the paths and are filled with historically-inspired seasonal delights, including freshly-roasted chestnuts, hot apple cider and cocoa. For the end of the evening, purchase an official Holiday Nights lantern and join the procession from Martha-Mary Chapel to Town Hall for a Fireworks finale accompanied by a sing-along of familiar holiday tunes.

Guests looking to spend some extra time with Old Saint Nick can do so during our Supper with Santa dinner package. A special ticket price combines dinner and Holiday Nights admission, and begins with a horse-drawn wagon ride to A Taste of History restaurant inside Greenfield Village. Enjoy a casual holiday turkey meal, arts and crafts and storytelling – and before heading into Holiday Nights, Santa himself will make a tableside visit to wish each child a Merry Christmas. Tickets for this special experience are $40 for adult members and $28.75 for youth members ages 5-12, $43 for adult non-members and $31 for youth non-members. Tickets for all children ages four and under are $12.50.

For the adults, historic Eagle Tavern also offers an exclusive, sophisticated seated dinner package. Live period music sets the tone for a delectable holiday feast, featuring roasted rib of beef, squash soup, roasted chicken with apricot sauce, ginger cake with vanilla sauce and more. The dinner package, which is available every night of the program, offers 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. seating and includes admission to Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. Tickets are $72 for adult members and $67.75 for youth members, $75 for adult non-members and $70 for youth non-members.

To purchase tickets for both Supper with Santa and the Eagle Tavern dinner package, call (313) 982-6001 or visit www.thehenryford.org

Learn all about owls during Owl Prowls in Michigan state parks

Residents looking for a nighttime outdoor adventure are invited to bundle up, wait until dark and then join other like-minded night owls and a state park naturalist for a walk through the woods in one of several state parks offering Owl Prowls in November and December. Participating Owl Prowlers will spend 30 to 45 minutes walking through the woods, calling these magnificent creatures, while seeing if they can spot one on its perch or flying overhead.

After the hike, guests can enjoy sitting around a bonfire, making s’mores, chatting about owls and sharing nature stories. Park staff reminds participants to wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather (events will take place rain or shine), and bring something to drink, a camp chair, a flashlight or miner’s light, and a great outdoor or nature story to share around the fire.

Pre-registration is not required and the programs are free of charge; however, a Recreation Passport is required for vehicles entering the state parks and recreation areas.

For details, contact recreation programming assistant Tracy Ball by phone at 231-944-0078 or email at ballt4@michigan.gov.

Owl Prowls are scheduled at the following state parks and recreation areas:

Brighton State Recreation Area, 4:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 30
Meet at Chilson Pond, located behind the headquarters building on Chilson Road. Brighton Recreation Area is located at 6360 Chilson Road in Howell, Mich. (Livingston County). For details, call the recreation area, 810-229-6566.

Hayes State Park, 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8
Meet at the activities area in the campground. Hayes State Park is located at 1220 Wamplers Lake Road in Onsted, Mich. (Lenawee County). For details, call the state park, 517-467-7401.

Ionia State Recreation Area, 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2
Meet at the boat launch. Ionia State Recreation Area is located at 2880 W. David Hwy. in Ionia, Mich. (Ionia County). For details, call the recreation area, 616-527-3750.

Island Lake State Recreation Area, 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1
Meet at the Meadow picnic site. The Island Lake State Recreation Area entrance is located just south of I-96 on Kensington Road in Brighton, Mich. (Livingston County). For details, call the recreation area, 810-229-7067.

Lake Hudson State Recreation Area, 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7
Meet at the campground. Lake Hudson State Recreation Area is located at 5505 Morey Hwy. in Clayton, Mich. (Lenawee County). For details, call Hayes State Park, 517-467-7401.

Maybury State Park, 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1
Meet at the concession building, using the park entrance located just west of Beck Road on 8 Mile Road. This program is sponsored by the Friends of Maybury State Park. Maybury State Park is located in Northville, Mich. (Wayne County). For details, call the state park, 248-349-8390.

Pinckney State Recreation Area, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1
Meet at the Silver Lake day use area just past the park headquarters on Silver Hill Road. This program is sponsored by the Huron Valley Audubon Society. Pinckney State Recreation Area is located at 8555 Silver Hill Road in Pinckney, Mich. (Washtenaw County). For details, call the recreation area, 734-426-4913.

Sleepy Hollow State Park, 5 p.m., on Sunday, Dec. 9
Meet at the east picnic area. Sleepy Hollow State Park is located at 7835 E. Price Road in Laingsburg, Mich. (Clinton County). For details, call the recreation area, 517-651-6217.

Waterloo State Recreation Area, 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1
Meet at the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center, 17030 Bush Road. Waterloo Recreation Area is located in Chelsea, Mich. (Washtenaw County). For details, call the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center, 734-475-3170, or the recreation area, 734-475-8307.

More outdoor fun and exercise is available through the DNR's Recreation 101 program, which provides expert instruction to budding outdoor enthusiasts by offering free, hands-on training in over 100 different activities. Learn about participating or becoming an instructor, at www.michigan.gov/rec101. The DNR also offers ongoing nature programming. Check out the schedule at www.michigan.gov/natureprograms.

Showcasing the DNR: Northern Michigan deer hunting headed for a comeback

A close-up view of a beautiful deer a hunter might encounter
in northern Michigan. (DNR photos)
You really don’t have to have a lot of gray in your hair to remember when deer hunting was largely a northern Michigan endeavor. There was a long tradition of going to deer camp somewhere north of Clare, and reports of traffic jams on northbound I-75 a couple of days prior to Nov. 15 were commonplace.

That trend changed through the 1990s, and somewhere around the turn of the century, the pattern reversed itself. More hunters spent more time – and killed more deer – in the southern third of the state than in the northern Lower and Upper peninsulas.

In 2002, for instance, Michigan hunters killed an estimated 35,000 bucks in the Upper Peninsula and 79,000 in the northern Lower Peninsula, while southern Michigan hunters killed 127,000 bucks – more than half the bucks taken in the state. That trend has continued.

But due to a combination of factors – including new license regulations and three mild winters in a row – northern Michigan deer hunting appears to be poised for a comeback.

“We haven’t necessarily seen increased license sales or more hunter numbers in northern Michigan, but what we are seeing is the hunters who are out there are more successful and that’s always a good thing,” said Department of Natural Resources deer program biologist Ashley Autenrieth.

Laughs and good times abound at this multigenerational deer
camp in Menominee County, during the 2011 season.
Autenrieth, who works out of Gaylord, said more hunters have been calling, looking to buy property adjacent to public land to establish deer camps in the northern Lower Peninsula.

“The last three mild winters we’ve had have really helped,” Autenrieth said. “People are seeing more game. Our deer herd has been on a nice, steady increase for the last three years, which is what we want – a slow progression of deer numbers.

“Where we have good habitat we’re seeing more deer and even in areas with medium-quality habitat we’re seeing more deer,” she said. “In general, numbers are up and the deer seem to be very fit. They look healthy. We’re getting reports of good trail camera pictures and people say they’re seeing some very nice quality bucks.”

The change in buck regulations in the Upper Peninsula – where hunters who opt for a combination license are limited to a buck with at least three antler points on one side and four on one side (statewide) with the second tag – may have helped pass some bucks into an older age-class. (A similar change was adopted in 2010 in DMU 487 – the area in the northeastern Lower Peninsula where bovine tuberculosis has been an issue with the deer herd.)

“The last three winters have been pretty good to deer in the Upper Peninsula, with this past winter being one of the mildest on record,” Autenrieth said. “This has given the deer a great chance to rebound from the harsh winter of 2008. I would expect both the population numbers and the harvest to increase this year.

Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoy each
other’s company at this deer camp, built in 1977 by Walter
and Josephine Welch in Menominee County.
“I think we’ll see an increase in hunter success throughout much of northern Michigan again this year.”

Autenrieth said that this year more antlerless permits are available in new areas in northern Michigan.

“A number of areas in both the U.P. and northern Lower have been opened for the first time in a number of years,” she said. “Otsego, Cheboygan and Roscommon counties were all opened this year on both public and private land after being closed for the last three years.

“Kalkaska is still closed on public land, but is open for private-land antlerless licenses, and we also opened Mason, Wexford and Missaukee to public land this year, too. That’s a reaction to our indicators telling us the population numbers are up and healthy.

“In the U.P., we did open a few areas previously closed including DMU 117 (Drummond Island) and 121 (Bay De Noc Unit) and we did increase the number of licenses in some areas.”

Antlerless licenses have been reduced in the northeastern Lower Peninsula, where bovine tuberculosis is a major concern, but that represents more of change in strategy than a change in deer populations, Autenrieth said.

After a successful outing, hunters head south at the
toll booth on Mackinac Bridge.
“We’re really looking forward to another great hunting season in northern Michigan,” she said. “Things are looking good. We’ve heard very good things from archery hunters, and we hope that continues right into gun season.”

The DNR believes southern Michigan will continue to produce the bulk of hunting effort as well as the bulk of the harvest this year – and probably for the foreseeable future. But northern Michigan deer hunting, which has been in decline in recent years, seems ready for a bounce. Though no one is predicting traffic jams heading north anytime soon, the tradition of hunting deer in northern Michigan appears to be on an upswing.

Learn more about deer-hunting opportunities in all parts of the state on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/deer.

Sleepy Hollow State Park offers snowshoe building classes in December and January

Sleepy Hollow State Park will offer several two-day snowshoe building classes in December and January. Participants will learn how to weave a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes similar to the ones Native Americans made for generations.

The cost for making a pair of snowshoes is $170, and includes the pre-formed wooden frames, lacing, high-quality bindings and personal instruction. Classes are designed to be fun, informative and interesting. Because this is an activity that requires concentration over long periods of time, it is recommended for ages 16 and older.

The handmade snowshoes participants will produce can be used for hiking throughout the winter, given as holiday gifts, or used as a home decoration. Snowshoeing is an easy, inexpensive way to get outdoors and burn some calories during the winter months.

The classes will be held at Sleepy Hollow State Park’s headquarters, located at 7835 E. Price Road, Laingsburg (Shiawassee County). Please note the classes are split over two days.

Classes are scheduled for:
  • Friday, Dec. 7: 5 to 9 p.m. (Part 1)
  • Saturday, Dec. 8: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Part 2)
  • Friday, Jan. 11: 5 to 9 p.m. (Part 1)
  • Saturday, Jan. 12: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Part 2)
  • Friday, Jan. 25: 5 to 9 p.m. (Part 1)
  • Saturday, Jan. 26: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Part 2)

Class size is limited to a maximum of eight participants; reservations are required. To make a reservation, call Sleepy Hollow State Park at 517-651-6217, or email Denise Smith at smithd8@michigan.gov. For more information about Sleepy Hollow State Park, including a map and directions, visit www.michigan.gov/sleepyhollow. 

DNR invites public review of draft Regional State Forest Management Plans

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that its draft Regional State Forest Management Plans (RSFMPs) – designed to help the DNR sustainably manage Michigan’s nearly 4 million acres of state forest lands – are now available for public review.

The plans are posted on the DNR website, www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans, through Jan. 2, 2013.There are three plans: Western Upper Peninsula, Eastern Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula.

The DNR developed the three draft plans – which cover the eastern Upper Peninsula, the western Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula – using an inclusive planning effort and input from a diverse group of stakeholders representing government organizations, outdoor recreation, the forest industry, conservation agencies and everyday citizens. Once finalized, the plans will provide long-term, landscape-level direction for resource managers that will guide DNR decisions about activities and treatments on state forest lands. The plans also ensure wildlife habitat and opportunities for recreation are protected.

Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, said the feedback the department receives during the public review period is crucial to the success of the plans.

“Successful management of Michigan’s state forest lands is a team effort,” said O’Neill, who also serves as state forester. “This public review period is designed to give people plenty of time and opportunity to determine how the plans will best fit their needs. By working together, we can ensure that Michigan’s state forests continue to meet the recreation, economic and conservation needs of current and future generations.”

Gary Melow, director of Michigan Biomass, said the draft plans are an important cornerstone for optimizing state forest lands so they can support multiple uses.

“These plans are a crucial piece of the puzzle in developing long-term strategies for the state’s forest resources. It’s critical that stakeholders be active partners in this process,” said Melow, who also serves as a member of the DNR’s Timber Advisory Council and the Forest Management Advisory Committee. “Michigan’s forests and forest products industry are a huge part of our state’s economy. They, and other uses of the resource, have been considered in these drafts, and it’s important that stakeholders look at these plans to see how they may affect them.”

Rich Bowman, director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, said the drafts give stakeholders and the public an opportunity to participate in state forest planning and management in Michigan.

“The Nature Conservancy is pleased that after a number of years of thoughtful work, the DNR has released the draft Regional State Forest Management Plans,” said Bowman, who also is a member of the DNR’s Timber Advisory Council. “These plans will help all of those interested in the health and productivity of our state forest system better understand what we have and what we plan to do to improve, protect and utilize this world-class resource.”

To help navigate the RFSMP process and answer questions about the draft plans, the DNR will offer an informational webinar on Thursday, Oct. 25, and repeat it on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at noon (EST). To join either webinar, participants are invited to visit https://connect.msu.edu/rsfmp/ on their preferred date.

Residents with comments or ideas regarding the plans are encouraged to submit them via email to forestplancomments@michigan.gov or by mail to DNR Forest Resources Division, Forest Planning and Operations Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.

Following public review, the DNR will assess the feedback, revise each plan, consult with stakeholders and prepare for final review and approval by the DNR director at a Natural Resources Commission meeting.

Those with questions are encouraged to contact the Forest Resources Division’s forest certification planner at 517-373-1275 or via email at forestplancomments@michigan.gov.

Ohio's Recreational Trails to receive more than $1.6 million

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently announced that 14 recreational trails in Ohio have been selected to share a total of $1,689,759 in federal funds through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP).

“We are always encouraging people to get out and enjoy Ohio’s scenic outdoors,” said Deputy Director Glen Cobb. “With these grants we can help improve the quality of our trails so that more visitors can benefit and have a positive experience.”

ODNR received 66 RTP grant applications, and the agency awarded funding to 14 projects. More than 170 local trail projects across the state have received more than $21 million in federal funds through ODNR since RTP began in 1993. A few examples of criteria for projects receiving funding included: justification of trail need, trail linkages and public participation.

ODNR administers federal grants, including the RTP, which provides funding for non-motorized and motorized trails. RTP is a reimbursement program that provides up to 80 percent of a project’s funding. This funding goes to projects that create and maintain trails and trail support facilities, improve access for people with disabilities, and provide education about trail safety and the environment.

Funding for RTP comes from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration through a portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.

VIDEO: Sleep Number beds are now available at Camping World

Sleep Number Beds are now available at www.campingworld.com!

Good Earth Tea Contest Searches for Unique “Untamed Moments” to Win “Glamping” Trip

Good Earth Tea, the brand known for its bold, flavors, announced the launch of their “Untamed Moments” contest to find the most original and entertaining examples of their fans living adventurously. The prize at stake is an all-expense paid “glamping” trip for two, where the winner and their guest will explore the earth’s wonders while enjoying deluxe lodgings and treatment.

To enter, consumers must submit a photo that best displays their most untamed moment along with a caption of 140 characters or less. Entries will be accepted through December 31st and will be judged on originality, creativity and how well they personify the vivid essence of Good Earth Tea.

“Good Earth Tea is about being inspired by the natural wonders of the earth and enjoying wondrous fusions, so we’re excited to give one of our amazing fans the opportunity to experience the majesty of nature while living it up in sumptuous accommodations,” said Anna Corini, Marketing Executive, Good Earth.

The grand prize “glamping” trip will include glamorous camping and spa treatments, as well as lavish resort accommodations. The winners will explore some of the Southwest US’s wildest and most iconic country, from whitewater rafting in the Colorado River, to hiking in the Grand Canyon and beyond. The experience will be planned by Off the Beaten Path Distinctive Outdoor Journeys to ensure a top-notch experience for Good Earth Tea’s “Untamed Moments” winner.

 The Good Earth Tea “Untamed Moments” contest runs from October 12, 2012 through December 31, 2012, during which time entries will be accepted through online submission. Judging will take place from January 1, 2013 through January 14, 2013 with the winner being announced in the days following the official ruling. For official contest rules and to submit an entry, visit http://www.GoodEarthTeaUntamed.com

Showcasing the DNR: SAFE Boats aid conservation officers on the water

Michigan's new patrol boats are designed to handle rough seas
and, with the upgrade to Shoxs mitigating seats, reduce fatigue to the
operator and navigator. The Michigan DNR purchased five new vessels
with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Thanks to the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division now has five new Great Lakes patrol boats.

Chief Gary Hagler, who heads up the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, said the department applied for, and received, federal Port Security Grants to purchase four 25-foot and one 27-foot aluminum-hulled vessels for use around Great Lakes ports. The 25-footers have been deployed at Muskegon, Sault Ste. Marie, Port Huron and Marine City, while the 27-foot craft is docked in Marquette.

The walk-around-cabin boats – built by SAFE Boats International (SAFE) of Port Orchard, Wash. – feature hand-welded aluminum hulls and fabric-covered, positive-flotation foam sponsons (to increase lateral stability in the water). They were custom-built to DNR specifications after the grants were awarded in 2010 and 2011.

“These boats will be used for port security, maritime law enforcement patrols and rescues on the Great Lakes,” Hagler explained.

The Michigan DNR’s Law Enforcement Division recently acquired
new patrol boats, courtesy of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security
grant. The boats are shipped from Port Orchard, Wash., to their
destination in Michigan, where they will be put into service.
“You might think you’re doing a regular check of a fishing vessel or a maritime safety check, but once you get out there you find other sorts of clandestine activity – boats that are smuggling illegal contraband or human trafficking,” said the DNR’s Sgt. John Meka. “On everyday patrols, we’re looking for these activities.”

Meka, who wrote the design specifications for the vessels, said he conferred with other federal and state agencies on the boats before he ordered them from SAFE (an acronym for Secure All-around Flotation Equipped) Boats, after contacting 40 different manufacturers. He, along with veteran DNR conservation officer Danny Walzak, went to Puget Sound to inspect and run the boats before they were delivered to Michigan.

“They’re beautiful boats,” Walzak said. “I’ve been dreaming of these boats ever since the Coast Guard got them. I’m very glad we have them and very happy for the guys who are going to use them.”

The boats feature insulated cabins that can be accessed from port, starboard and aft. That’s an important feature for officers who, when patrolling alone, may need to move quickly in a rescue situation. The walk-around-cabin design allows the officers to move around the boat without having to climb up on the sponsons.

Michigan DNR conservation officers Danny Walzak (left) and Ken Kovach
are eager to test out a new patrol boat on the St. Clair River. This boat is one
of five the DNR was able to purchase with Port Security Grant funds from the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Here, you can see that non-skid material is
provided on all horizontal deck surfaces and handrails for added safety.
The cabin itself is a comfort and safety upgrade over the open boats that most conservation officers use.

“I’m excited,” said DNR conservation officer Ben Lasher, who will use one of the boats in St. Clair County. “This is the Cadillac of work boats; I’ve never had a boat this size or this nice.”

Lasher, who has been patrolling in an 18-foot open boat, said the new craft will make him more effective.

“It’s nice to have equipment you can use a longer period of the year,” he said. “With this boat, I can work on the water eight to 10 months of the year as opposed to only six.”

DNR conservation officer Ken Kovach, who took one of the boats on its maiden voyage on the St. Clair River and Lake Huron on a blustery day, said he had a good impression of the rig before he actually experienced it. After the trip, Kovach’s opinion was even higher.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s more than what I thought it would be. I’m impressed.”

Michigan's new patrol boats are designed to handle rough seas and,
with the upgrade to Shoxs mitigating seats, reduce fatigue to the operator
and navigator. The Michigan DNR purchased five new vessels with grant
funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The rigs feature the latest in electronics and communication equipment. The boats are outfitted with climate-control systems, night-vision devices, side-scan sonar, forward-looking infrared radar and military-grade automatic identification units. Even the seats (made by Shoxs) have been upgraded for comfort to reduce the fatigue often associated with operating in rough water.

“They’re easier on the crew so they won’t take a pounding all the time and they won’t have the lower-back problems and fatigue,” Meka said. “These boats go well through rough seas and make it easier for the crew to stay on the water longer and in worse weather.”

The 25-foot boats are outfitted with twin 250-horspower Evinrude E-Tec outboards and have a top speed of 46 knots. The 27-footer boasts twin 300 Evinrudes. The boats cost an average of $275,000 each.

“It’s a good response boat,” Meka said. “It’s the boat we need for Great Lakes patrol."

Added Walzak: “It’s amazing what these boats will handle; plus, you’re protected by the cabin.”

The good news didn’t stop with the five new boats. The DNR also received federal grant money to upgrade the electronics and communication devices on two existing boats – a 25-footer in Monroe and a 40-footer in Menominee – as well as to purchase an airboat for use in southeastern Michigan.

Here in the shadow of the international Blue Water Bridge in
Port Huron/Sarnia on the St. Clair River, this boat was tested
for the first time by the Michigan DNR conservation officers
who will pilot them. The close-celled foam collars (sponsons)
are designed to add stability and flotation redundancy.
“Getting this support from the Department of Homeland Security has been an amazing boost to the DNR’s efforts to better patrol our Great Lakes ports and protect the safety of our residents who enjoy these waters,” said Hagler.

Patrolling the Great Lakes is just one of the many responsibilities tackled every day by Michigan’s conservation officers. These sturdier, speedier, grant-funded boats will have far-reaching effects on officers’ safety, comfort and overall effectiveness on the waters.

That’s a plus for every resident or visitor who ventures out onto the Great Lakes, no matter the season.

To learn more about the products and programs of SAFE Boats International, visit www.safeboats.com. To learn more about the hard work of becoming and serving as a conservation officer with the Michigan DNR, visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

Upcoming Pittsburgh Area Events & Activities

Nazi Olympics Exhibit
The August Wilson Center for African American Culture will present an exhibit, The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936. This stirring exhibition, which runs through February 2013, is on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and presented in collaboration with the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, explores the courage and triumph of athletes who boycotted, participated in, or were barred from the Games.

Closing the ‘GAP’ 
In October, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Homestead, Pa. for the start of construction for the final section of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). Trail builders and enthusiasts gathered as groundbreaking started on location at Sandcastle Water Park, located near Pittsburgh. Work for this long-awaited, last mile of the GAP will be ongoing into 2013. Stay tuned for next year’s celebration of the completion of this section and a continuous trail corridor that will connect downtown Pittsburgh to Washington DC.

European Holiday Market
Downtown Pittsburgh’s first-ever European holiday market opens Nov. 24. Inspired by the original Christkindlmarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market features vendors displaying unique collectible and gift items in Alpine-style wooden chalets.

Get Lit
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will feature a new outdoor Winter Light Garden exhibit that will shine with scores of LED light forms, adding even more enchantment to the public garden’s spectacular seasonal displays. Guests will be dazzled by glowing orbs, “dripping” snowballs, luminous trees and a brilliant fountain of lights as they follow pathways through a winter wonderland. Nov. 25-Jan. 6, 2013.

Steeler Mania 
Steelers Nation take note: You can get your photo taken alongside the Lombardi trophies from all six of the Steelers’ Super Bowl victories at the Senator John Heinz History Center, Nov. 23-29. The trophies will be on display as part of the new exhibition, Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which features more than 200 football artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame collection.

Bragging Rights & Walking Shoes 
Pittsburgh’s Grant Street was recently named one of “America’s 10 Great Streets” by the American Planning Association. Pittsburgh is ranked sixth in the nation for the number of people walking to work, according to data from the American Community Survey.

Looking Ahead 
Pittsburgh Restaurant Week – Winter 2013 will be held Jan. 14-20, 2013. During this week-long, city-wide event, restaurants and the community are invited to come together to celebrate steel city food and dining while highlighting with new dishes for the New Year. In 2013, diners can expect to dine at participating restaurants across the city and choose from discounted three-course fixed price meals or $20.13 specials.

Michigan state parks celebrate record camp night reservations for 2012

The DNR Parks and Recreation Division celebrated its 1 millionth campground
reservation of 2012 on Friday, Oct. 19, with George W. and Elizabeth Angerer of
Roseville, Mich. The Angerers made the milestone reservation for the Fall Harvest
Weekend at Algonac State Park, where park staff got in the Halloween spirit
by donning costumes to present the couple with a prize package of gifts.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources marked an attendance milestone for state parks on Friday, Oct. 19, by celebrating its 1 millionth camp night of the 2012 camping season.

The 1 millionth camp night reservation for Algonac State Park’s River Front Campground in St. Clair County was made by George W. and Elizabeth Angerer of Roseville, Mich. The Angerers received a Pure Michigan prize package including a free weekend of camping, a $100 gift certificate from Gander Mountain and Pure Michigan apparel upon arriving at their campsite. The gifts were presented by acting Bay City district supervisor George Lauringer and Algonac State Park unit supervisor Dennis Wilson.

”I’m really excited to be the millionth reservation. This is how we spend our vacations,” said George Angerer. “We’re working on visiting every state park in Michigan.”

“Having our state parks reach 1 million camp nights – a milestone we have not hit since 2005 – reflects a healthy love of the outdoors and a healthy state parks system,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The milestone also reflects healthy communities, because we know the success of state parks gives a positive boost to local economies.”

Michigan state parks have reported a strong surge in campground visitors this year with a 7-percent increase in advance reservations over the 2011 season.

“The 2012 season started with a nearly sold-out Memorial Day Weekend, and attendance remained steadily high as park visitors sought relief from the summer’s exceptionally long stretches of hot, dry weather,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “The trend was an indication to us that we possibly were on track to see reservations topping 1 million camp nights.”

Harold Herta, chief of Resource Management for the Parks and Recreation Division, credited the rise in camping to both positive economic factors and the DNR’s fresh approach on outreach to state parks visitors.

“Many people looking to cut costs in their already-strained budgets have turned to the state parks as a way to stretch their vacation dollars,” Herta said. “Most people go camping because a weeklong trip can cost under $300 — compared with $3,000 and up, for example, for a week at Disney.”

Herta said camping in Michigan’s state parks has become even more cost-friendly with the introduction of the DNR’s Recreation Passport. The DNR has seen more residents looking for bargains opting to sign up for the annual $10 Passport when renewing their vehicle registration. The Passport, which in 2010 replaced the previous park stickers, was popular in 2011 and has seen 27 percent of Michigan residents checking “yes” for the Passport this year.

Herta also said the lower cost of gasoline earlier this summer prompted visitors to take their recreational vehicles on the road more often. Additionally, the DNR’s newly expanded options in alternative lodging; the increase in its award-winning Recreation 101 programs that offer expert instruction on 50 different kinds of recreational activities; group events such as outdoor movie nights; and educational programs like August’s Meteors & S’mores astronomy program have also increased the number of park visitors.

"For the $10 Recreation Passport, you have access to more than 100 state parks and over 1,000 free educational and recreational programs,” said Maia Stephens, recreation programmer for Michigan state parks and harbors. “We provide the gear and expert instruction, and visitors get to learn a new activity and all about Michigan’s natural and historic environment. It’s the best deal in entertainment in the state!”

Most of Michigan’s state parks now offer camper cabins, year-round occupancy yurts, cottages and lodges through the state parks’ central reservation system. The two, new deluxe rental cabins at Holly Recreation Area that offer two bedrooms, a kitchen and living area and a bathroom have been heavily booked since they opened in June.

“When you visit Michigan’s state parks and are surrounded with our forests, rivers, lakes and streams that have been here for thousands of years, it’s hard to imagine that changes ever occur here,” Olson said. “But the goal of our park system is to continually reinvent ourselves to suit this modern generation of campers while preserving all the natural elements they come here to experience. As the world gets more hectic, we think Michigan residents will continue to turn to their state parks as resources for rest and renewal.”

See a wolverine, check your deer and discuss future land management at DNR open house today in Cadillac

Have you ever wanted to see a real Michigan wolverine? Or maybe learn how to age the deer you harvested?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites the public to an open house from 4-7 p.m. today at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center, located at 6093 E. M-115 in Cadillac. DNR staff members from the Cadillac area – including the local wildlife biologist, a conservation officer and area foresters – will be on hand to talk to attendees.

The open house gives area residents an opportunity to discuss the on-the-ground management that is happening on public land in their area. Current plans entail harvest of aspen acreage to provide young forest habitat for grouse, woodcock, many songbirds and white-tail deer, along with regneration of approximately 660 acres of oak to provide future acorn crops, and planting of 120 acres of rye and alfalfa for wildlife.

Wildlife habitat work will be completed through commercial timber sales, where loggers will pay for the wood they harvest. The result will create improved habitat for wildlife and for hunters looking for game, said Forest Resources Division Cadillac Unit Manager Dave Fisher, adding that continuing to maintain aspen and oak on the landscape is a top priority.

“This is a win-win situation,” Fisher said. “We have a valuable renewable resource in an area that benefits wildlife, hunters and local communities.”

With the firearm deer season right around the corner, this open house also gives hunters a chance to stop in and talk with deer biologist Ashley Autenrieth -- who will be available to “talk deer" -- and to speak with local DNR land managers, who can advise where great public land hunting opportunities can be found.

Hunters can also bring in the deer or deer head they have harvested to receive a 2012 Successful Deer Hunter Cooperator patch, and DNR staffers will collect valuable biological data from the deer. At the same time, hunters can learn the tricks for how to age deer themselves and take home how-to materials.

“We encourage you to stop in and bring your family,” said wildlife technician Katie Keen. “See what is happening on public land in your county, have your deer aged, and tour the spectacular Carl T. Johnson center.”

For more information about the open house, contact Katie Keen at 231-775-9727. For details about the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center, including a map and directions, visit www.michigan.gov/huntfishcenter.

Panel makes recommendations on future of Michigan parks, recreation areas


From a Michigan DNR press release

LANSING, Mich. ‒ Encouraging greater connections between communities and their recreational assets can help promote the long-term viability of Michigan’s state parks, according to a blue ribbon panel’s recommendations presented today to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The finding is one of seven core recommendations offered by the Blue Ribbon Panel on State Parks and Outdoor Recreation, appointed last year by Snyder.

Created by Executive Order 2011-10, the 16-member panel considered the entirety of Michigan’s system of parks and outdoor recreational opportunities at the local, state and regional level – not just state-managed facilities – to recognize their collective role in growing the state’s economy and improving residents’ health and well-being. The report highlights opportunities for these natural resources assets to more creatively meet the needs of current and future generations of residents and visitors.

“We are fortunate to have a well-run, quality network of inviting state parks that add to Michigan’s appeal as an attractive travel destination,” said Snyder. “My goal for this panel was to create a blueprint to help state parks adapt for 21st Century growth and investment. This report points the state in the right direction. I want to thank all the panel members and especially the co-chairs, Erin McDonough and Jon Allan, for their good work.”

In order to meet its goals, the panel said the state should collaborate with public agencies, nonprofit organizations and the private sector to plan, manage and invest in natural resources and recreation programs to drive several key outcomes, including:

  • Demonstrating the value of the state’s investment in parks and outdoor recreation;
  • Driving Michigan’s economic prosperity;
  • Inspiring greater regional identity; and
  • Protecting and creating opportunities for the public to experience and learn about Michigan’s natural, cultural, historic and prehistoric resources.

“Michigan’s parks and outdoor recreation areas are iconic, and represent a portfolio of assets that should be viewed by the state as critical to advancing Michigan’s prosperity. They return dividends—social, ecological, and economic—that far exceed the investments made by the state and its local public and private partners,” said panel co-chairs Jon Allan and Erin McDonough in the report. “These assets provide a place to recreate and, at their best, they help make our communities cohesive, connect people to their places and to each other, engender civic engagement, and remind us of our connection to the natural world and to our history.”

Last year, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Michigan state parks and recreation areas earned the National Recreation and Park Association’s Gold Medal Award for operating as the best-managed state park system in the country, excelling in long-term planning and resource management and for its ability to address the needs of customers through creative partnerships.

Building on those strengths, the Blue Ribbon Panel made the following recommendations:
  1. Identify and protect important natural, cultural, historic and prehistoric resources for the enjoyment and education of Michigan’s residents and visitors, and expand stewardship of these resources.
  2. Diversify funding and use new criteria to target investments. This includes a recommendation that the state move the Recreation Passport to an “opt-out” system of funding, and pursue expanded revenue bonding authority to address a backlog of priority maintenance and improvement needs at outdoor recreation facilities. In addition, the report recommends re-establishing the State Parks Foundation to accept private donations toward parks projects.
  3. Give high priority to investment in the development of regional connected trail networks. The report urges development of a comprehensive trails database available through an easily accessible platform.
  4. Encourage greater connections between communities and their recreational assets to strengthen regional identities.
  5. Create four to five “signature parks” in Michigan’s core urban areas as a tool for revitalizing those areas, and integrate green infrastructure in Michigan’s urban redevelopment. 
  6. Integrate tourism and economic development marketing to fully leverage the economic and social benefits that parks and outdoor recreation resources can provide. 
  7. Prioritize investment in safety and maintenance of, and access to, parks and recreation spaces.
The report also includes 19 supplementary recommendations, including creating a follow-up panel to address overall natural resources funding; developing a Michigan state park pilot design competition; and enhancing cooperation among health care companies, the DNR and the state Department of Community Health to pilot a health and wellness program centered around outdoor resources.

The panel was comprised of representatives from nature conservancies, trails and marine groups and environmental agencies, as well as other acknowledged experts in recreation, parks and tourism issues. These individuals brought a broad range of perspectives and ideas to the panel.

“Michigan’s state parks have already set themselves apart as beautiful, accessible places for outdoor fun and recreation, and as a springboard for creative local and regional partnerships,” said Snyder. “We want to build on that success and plan for a comprehensive network of great outdoor spaces that spark economic growth and improve health and wellness in every corner of the state.” The Blue Ribbon Panel report is at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/snyder/ParksPanelFinal_401816_7.pdf.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Newsbits for November 2012

Remaining Firearm Deer Permits:  Illinois firearm and muzzleloader deer permits are still available over-the-counter (OTC) from DNR Direct license and permit vendors – through Dec. 2 for firearm and through Dec. 9 for muzzleloader-only deer hunting (or until quotas are exhausted).  Find a vendor near you at this link:  http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/LicensePermitVendors.aspx
Find counties with permits available at this link:
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: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/LicensePermitVendors.aspx

Non-Resident Deer and Turkey Permits:  The remaining non-resident 2012-13 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.  Find a vendor near you at this link:
Late Winter and CWD Deer Special Hunt Area Applications:  Hunters may apply online through Nov. 26 for site-specific permits for designated IDNR Special Hunt Areas for the Late Winter and CWD Deer Hunts.  The online application system will be available through the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov.

Late-Winter and CWD Deer County Permits:  2012-2013 Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer county permits will be available over the counter (OTC) through DNR Direct license and permit vendors beginning on Tues., Dec. 11, 2012.  County permits for the CWD Deer Season will also be available OTC beginning on Dec. 11, 2012.  Late-Winter and CWD Deer season dates are Dec. 27-30, 2012 and Jan. 18-20, 2013.

CWD Sampling During the Firearm Deer Season in Northern Illinois Counties with Mandatory Check Stations:  Firearm deer hunters in the 10 counties listed below are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season (Nov . 16 – 18; and Nov 29 – Dec. 2) at the check stations shown between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.  Biologists will be present to take CWD samples for testing at the time of registration. Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate.

Statewide Archery, Firearm, Muzzleloader, and Late-Winter/CWD Seasons CWD Sampling: Deer hunters statewide are encouraged to allow samples to be taken for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing from adult deer they harvest.  

Spring Turkey Applications:  Resident hunters may now apply for the first lottery for 2013 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey Season permits online. Go to the IDNR website for more information at this link:
The application deadline for the first lottery for 2013 resident spring turkey permits is Dec. 1, 2012.  Non-residents may apply for 2013 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey permits beginning Dec. 4, 2012. 
Spring Youth Turkey:  Spring Youth Turkey Special Hunt Area online permit applications will be accepted online from Jan. 15, 2013-Feb. 18, 2013.  For more information on 2013 spring turkey hunting:
Spring Youth Turkey Season County Permits will be available over-the-counter from IDNR license/permit vendors beginning on March 5, 2013.

Apply Now for Outdoors Access for Youth Turkey Hunting:  The Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) is now taking applications from young hunters for 2013 spring turkey hunting.  Youth hunters will be assigned a hunt site in one of the 23 counties in which private property has been leased by IDNR.  Most assigned hunting areas are at least 40 acres in size and all have been evaluated for turkey activity and the high possibility of a good hunting experience for the youth.  Eligible youth hunters must be under the age of 16 at the time of the hunt and must have completed a hunter safety education course.  Applicants can apply for two of the three turkey seasons for which IRAP has leased sites for the spring of 2013 – Youth Season, 3rd Season and 4th Season.  For more information, go to www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/irapYouth are encouraged not to miss out and apply early.

Upland Prospects: For information on prospects for the 2012-13 pheasant, quail and rabbit seasons in Illinois, check the IDNR web site for the annual hunting prospects reports prepared by the IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources.  The links to the reports are available through the IDNR web site at:  http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/uplandgame/Pages/PheasantQuailAndRabbitAnnualStatusReports.aspx

ICF Quail Hunt:  The Illinois Conservation Foundation’s annual Kim Presbrey Memorial Quail Hunt is scheduled for the Rend Lake Resort on Nov. 11-13.  For more information, phone the ICF at 217-785-2003 or register online at www.ilcf.org/events.

Online Free Site Hunting Permits:  Hunters are reminded that Free Site Hunting Permits (windshield cards) to hunt upland, forest game and waterfowl at IDNR sites are available online from the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov.  Click on ‘Hunting/Trapping’ and then ‘Public Hunting Areas’ to print these permits.  Hunters are encouraged to view the link to hunter fact sheets also available at the site. For information or assistance, hunters should contact the site where they intend to hunt.

Ramsey Lake Trapping Permit Drawing:  The Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area will be opened for trapping beginning Nov. 10, 2012.  Permits will be allocated at a drawing to be held at 1 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 8, 2012 at the park office.  Permit applicants must submit to the site office prior to the drawing their name, address, phone number, date of birth, and number of traps available for use.  The successful applicant must have a valid trapping license and habitat stamp in addition to a site permit to trap at the site.  For additional information, contact the Site Superintendent at 618-423-2215 or the District Wildlife Biologist at 618-283-3070.

Youth Goose Hunt:  Interested youth can register now for the 13th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt sponsored by the IDNR on Dec. 26-27 at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties. Youth hunters must phone in to 217-785-8060 to register for a drawing to participate in the hunt.  The registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 7.  The drawing will be conducted on Dec. 10 and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  

First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing.  The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.  All applicants must have successfully completed a hunter safety education course, possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman's license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20-gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner's identification (FOID) card.  To register for the hunt or for more information, call 217-785-8060.

Target Hunger Now:  Hunters are encouraged to donate whole deer to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program – part of the IDNR ‘Target Hunger Now!’ initiative.  Participating meat processors turn the donated deer into ground venison for delivery to food banks and charities in Illinois.  For more information on ‘Target Hunger Now!’ and the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, check the IDNR website at
http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/ISAH/Pages/default.aspx or by email tracy.shafer@Illinois.gov or write to Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

Collector’s Day:  Many of the finest pieces of the Illinois State Museum's collections were donated by people with a passion for collecting. Attend the ISM Collector’s Day on Sat., Nov. 17 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. to meet local and regional collectors who will display their unique objects, from typewriters and music boxes, to antique pins and radio memorabilia. Meet the collectors and learn how to start or improve your own collection. No buying, selling, or appraisals will be allowed. Collector’s Day is free and open to the public.  For more information, email walthall@museum.state.il.us or phone 217-782-0061.

ESPB Meeting:  The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board will meet on Fri., Nov. 9, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, 30239 South State Route 53, Wilmington, IL, 60481.  The meeting is open to the public.  For more information, phone 217/785-8687.

Trapping River Otter: 2012-2013 marks the first Illinois trapping season for river otters since 1929. This success story was made possible by restoration efforts in Illinois and other states in the lower Midwest. Federal laws require each otter pelt to be tagged before it is sold, which will be new to most Illinois trappers. A simple and convenient system has been set up, and more information is available on the IDNR website at this link:

Schoolyard Habitat Grants:  The IDNR, Illinois Conservation Foundation, U.S. EPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program are partners in offering funds to teachers and youth group leaders in Illinois for wildlife habitat development or enhancement on school grounds or other public property. Up to $1,000 per applicant is available. The application deadline is Nov. 30, 2012.  Projects such as butterfly gardens, prairie plots, schoolyard arboretums, and bluebird nesting trails have been developed by grant recipients. 

Visit http://dnr.state.il.us/education/CLASSRM/grants.htm to access the instructions and application form.
Sportsman’s Raffle: Tickets remain available 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.  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 www.ilcf.org and by mail at:  Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

Teacher Workshops:  ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) educator workshops from the IDNR are scheduled for November, January and February. Go to https://www.enticeworkshops.com for more details and to register. Continuing Professional Development Units are available at all ENTICE workshops.

Dickson Mounds Workshops for Teachers: Educators are invited to gather together and schedule a workshop at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown.  Workshops may be a half-day or full-day experience and include a behind-the-scenes look at the museum, facility tours and hands-on activities, including archaeological work, nature observation, hiking, canoeing, and biological laboratory work.  Workshops may be tailored upon request.  Phone 309-547-3721 or email cchristensen@museum.state.il.us to schedule a workshop or for more information. 

Super Saturdays:  The Illinois State Museum’s ‘Super Saturdays’ event for Sat., Nov. 10 focuses on the American Indian Harvest.   Children and families are invited to learn about the foods that Native Americans in Illinois harvested hundreds of years ago and how they compare to the foods we grow and eat today.  The ‘Super Saturday’s free event is from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with games, crafts, and activities.  Phone 217-782-6044 for more information.  The Illinois State Museum is located in the State Capitol Complex in Springfield.

Science Series:  The Illinois State Museum’s November program as part of the Paul Mickey Science Series is “Recent Archaeology at the Fort de Chartres Locale” on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.  Late last autumn, Dr. Margaret Brown and Robert Mazrim discovered and excavated the buried remains of a small portion of the third Fort de Chartres, a wooden structure that was occupied from 1732 to 1751. This presentation will discuss how the site was found, as well as the artifacts and initial interpretations of the Randolph County French colonial site, one of the predecessors to the stone fort that was built in 1754. For more information, phone 217-782-0061 or 217-785-0037.  The free program will be held at the Museum’s Research and Collections Center, 1011 East Ash, Springfield.

Marseilles SFWA Hunting Hours:  Marseilles State Fish and Wildlife Area in La Salle County will be open again this year Wednesdays through Sundays for programmed hunting opportunities.  The site will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Site hours will be 5:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.  During the Firearm Deer Season, the check station will be opened at 4:30 a.m.  Detailed specific information can be found on the Marseilles SFWA web page on the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov.  For more information, contact Illini State Park at 815-795-2448.

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.  Just click on the tabs on the IDNR website homepage at www.dnr.illinois.gov