Events for singles taking place on Valentine’s Day weekend in Michigan State Parks

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring several Mitten Mixers over Valentine’s Day weekend, Thursday, Feb. 14 to Sunday, Feb. 17, at state parks and recreation areas. The special activities geared for singles will get participants outside enjoying Michigan's great outdoors in the company of others.

Bring along some friends and head to William Mitchell State Park in Cadillac for snowshoeing along a lantern-lit path. The event begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Carl. T. Johnson Center, 6087 E. M-115 in Cadillac (Wexford County). Warm up around the campfire, roast s’mores and meet other singles who share your enthusiasm for the outdoors. Couples are also welcome. Explore the visitor center and get some hot chocolate, coffee, or cookies from Friends of William Mitchell State Park for a small donation that will go toward planting more trees at the park, where approximately 90 trees were lost as a result of the damage created by emerald ash borer. Bring a warm pair of winter boots and dress according to the weather. In the event of poor snowshoeing conditions, participants will still be able to hike the trail. For details, call the park, 231-775-7911 or assistant recreation programmer Elissa Dennert, 989-313-0000.

Bundle up for a night of stargazing at Wilderness State Park. The event runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, when randomly selected groups of four will head out on a constellation search along the 1.5-mile trail. Wilderness is considered a “dark sky park,” and an excellent place to view the various patterns of stars. Diagrams and information will be available at stops along the route. Return to the park for some group games and warm up around the bonfire with some hot cocoa. Wilderness State Park is located at 903 Wilderness Drive in Carp Lake (Emmet County). For details, call the park, 231-436-5381 or assistant recreation programmer Kristin Stempky, 231-215-7097.

Meet up for a sunset snowshoe hike at Proud Lake Recreation Area followed by a bonfire and s’mores. The fun gets started at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Annex Building, 3500 Wixom Road in Commerce Township (Oakland County). For details, call the park, 248-685-2433 or 231-944-0059.

Mix, mingle and enjoy fun outdoor activities with other singles starting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Muskegon State Park in Muskegon County. Go for a glide on the skating ice rink or hike the snowshoe trails. Rental equipment is available. Meet in the Winter Sports Complex Lodge, 462 Scenic Drive, North Muskegon (Muskegon County). For details visit www.msports.org or call 231-744-9629.

Join the photo scavenger hunt at Holly State Recreation Area. The hike starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Overlook Shelter, 8100 Grange Hall Road in Holly (Oakland County). Stay for some hot beverages, snacks, games and socializing around the bonfire. For details, call the recreation area, 248-634-8811 or assistant recreation programmer Jacquelyn Baker, 989-313-1472.

Keep the fun going with a Mitten Mixer Coffee Tasting event taking place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Pinckney State Recreation Area. Bring your favorite ceramic mug and a donation for Food Gatherers to the Silver Lake Day Use Area and sample different coffees provided by RoosRoast of Ann Arbor. Take a brief hike on the popular Potawatomi Trail and warm up by the bonfire. The event is open to all singles who love coffee or who want to meet someone who share similar interests. For details, call the park, 734-426-4913, or assistant recreation programmer Tracy Ball, 231-944-0078.

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.

ODNR Awards Clean Ohio Grants to Expand Trail Projects

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Office of Real Estate administers the Clean Ohio Trails Fund and recently approved $3 million worth of funding to support trail projects statewide to help develop and revitalize communities.

“We are pleased that this funding will benefit worthy projects across the state by improving outdoor recreational opportunities for all Ohioans,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer.

The Clean Ohio Trails Fund is one of four components of the Clean Ohio Fund, which restores, protects and connects Ohio's natural and urban places. Ohioans approved the establishment of the $400 million bond program in 2000. This round is the seventh time that funding has been awarded through the Clean Ohio Trails Fund.

ODNR has conditionally awarded eight Clean Ohio Trails Fund grants for community projects that will build and maintain infrastructure that allows citizens to conveniently connect with nature. The projects will complete regional trail systems and links to statewide trails, connect population centers with outdoor recreation areas and facilities, preserve natural corridors and link urban areas to support commuter access.

The investments help facilitate travel, enhance educational opportunities and provide safe, scenic areas where Ohioans can hike, bike or run and build healthy lifestyles.

The $3 million of funding will be used to develop 24.21 miles of new trail and to acquire more than 3.25 miles of abandoned railroad and greenway corridors. Grant recipients, listed at ohiodnr.com, will provide a 25 percent match for their projects.

To date, the Clean Ohio Trails Fund has dedicated more than $34 million to provide Ohioans with better access to recreational opportunities through the creation of more than 252 miles of trails and the acquisition of 80 acres of abandoned railroad and greenway corridors.

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.

ARVC Michigan Convention & Trade Show

Members of the Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan recently received their invitations to the 2013 ARVC Michigan Convention & Trade Show, which will be March 25-27 at the Best Western Plus Hotel & Convention Center in Lansing.

According to Susan Novotny, the chairwoman of the Education & Membership Development Committee, this year's spring convention includes:
  • professional development sessions for the "newbie" campground owner to the lifetime CPO; 
  • a trade show showcasing vendors covering a wide variety of products and services; 
  • guest speakers; 
  • a silent and live auction; 
  • door prizes and a 50-50 drawing.
Also, ARVC Michigan members will get an opportunity to meet the organization's new Executive Director, Lori Tews, who has graciously agreed to be auctioned-off to the highest bidder. She will work in the winning bidder's campground for one week this summer. (Editor's note: read a Q&A blog post with Lori here!)

In addition, the convention will also feature a NEW ServSafe certification course on Monday, March 25, starting at 8 a.m. The ServSafe Certification is an 8-hour course and costs an additional $130, course book is included. If you are interested in getting certified your registration must be received on or before Feb. 15.

"If your campground prepares food for guests, at least one member of your staff needs to be properly certified," Novotny said in the invitation.

A preliminary schedule has been posted, and the following topics will be addressed during the convention:

  • ADA - What you need to know
  • Real Estate Tax Appeal, Board of Review & MI Tax Tribunal
  • Submit Your Best Idea and WIN $
  • Hospitality Industry and Cabins
  • First Aid, AED Use and CPR
  • Estate Planning
  • Don't Move Firewood
  • Employee Issues
  • Electric Issues
Rooms have been secured at the Best Western Plus Hotel at a rate of $97.50 plus tax and fees per night. For reservations, call the hotel directly at 517-694-8123 or by clicking on Best Western Plus Hotel to book your room online.

Any questions should be sent via email to Lori Tews at info@michcampgrounds.com.

Important Dates:
  • Early-Bird Special Rate - postmarked on or before Jan. 31
  • ServSafe Registration - postmarked on or before Feb. 15

VIDEO: Neutralize trailer sway with the Equal-i-zer



I have two personal experiences where, if not for my sway control system, I'm sure my family and I would have been in a serious accident.

The first occurred the very first time we went camping, which is many years ago now. We were on our way to Maumee Bay State Park when inclement weather raced in from the west. Winds were strong enough that the same weather cell produced tornadoes after it had passed through our area. We were driving south on I-280 and about to cross the Maumee River in downtown Toledo when the storm hit. I can honestly tell you that there was little to no sway at all. Perhaps we were blocked by a passing semi, or we were still concealed by bridge embankments, but it wasn't until much later that evening were we told how dangerous the storm was.

The second time happened only two summers ago. While driving on U.S. 23, just south of Ann Arbor, one of our wheels fell off when the lug bolts sheered the rim. (Read the post about it.) I remember only feeling a tug, and no one else in the TrailBlazer felt anything. We were fortunate that my Uncle Ed had advised us to buy a tandem axle trailer for just such an emergency, because the one remaining wheel on the driver's side was able to carry the weight of the trailer. But I also have to thank our sway control system for helping keeping us under control during the ordeal.

Our system? The Equal-i-zer. I will never own another trailer without one.

That was my long introduction to a 3:50 video about installing an Equal-i-zer from my favorite RV expert, Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
In this informative RV how to video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/ demonstrates the how to install an Equalizer 4-point sway control hitch. Equalizer's integrated sway control hitch let's you enjoy the journey. http://www.equalizerhitch.com/

Meet ARVC-MI's new Executive Director Lori Tews

Recently, the Michigan Chapter of the Association of Recreation Vehicle and Campgrounds has a new executive director - Lori Tews!

Recently, Lori took time to answer a few questions from me:

1. Congratulations on being named the Executive Director of ARVC Michigan! Tell us a bit about yourself, especially any camping that you may have done (or still do)! 

I grew up in Bay City, MI not far from the Saginaw Bay. Because of my parents love for the outdoors I spent my childhood fishing, snowmobiling, 3-wheeling and camping. Most of our adventures were along the northern eastside of the Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. One story my family loves to tell is the time they moved me from the tent to the station wagon after my cousin and I had fallen asleep. In the morning my cousin woke up and my uncles told him that a bear must have gotten me. He was pretty upset until he saw me get out of the back of the station wagon. I would say my fondest memories of camping is sitting around the campfire with my family listening to the burning coals crackle, making Hobo pies, swimming and fishing along the river, and the fresh air and the millions of stars in the dark sky.

I received my BA in Communication from Saginaw Valley State University. Following graduation, I packed my bags for the windy city—Chicago, IL. It was a great location to establish my professional career and experience the beauty of the big city set along the blue, green waters of Lake Michigan. Though I loved city living there was always something missing from my life and that was camping. I tried but never could find a friend who was willing to give up the 4-star hotel for a pop-up camper, s’mores and the fresh air. In 2011, I made the choice to box up my home and took my two cats on a road trip back home to Michigan. Becoming Executive Director for the Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan makes my decision that much sweeter!

2. You've been in your position just a short time, but have you learned so far about ARVC Michigan?

ARVC Michigan members have been so inviting and friendly, and have graciously welcomed me into their family. In the short time I’ve been in my position I have learned that they are very passionate about the Michigan RV park and campground industry, and they love what they do. 

3. What are your short- and long-term goals for the organization?

Short-term:
  • Recruit membership
  • Increase participation during the spring convention and trade show and fall conference
  • Build upon the ARVC Michigan brand
Long-term:
  • Improve legislative communication between the Association and membership
  • Increase ARVC Michigan’s visibility to the Midwest camper
  • Overall growth and value of the Association

Guest Post: Tim Enright of HitchUpandGo.com


I would like to thank Rick for allowing me to introduce myself to his viewers. For anyone who does not know me, I am Tim Enright. I founded the website HitchUpandGo. I am what you might call an RV fanatic. I enjoy both the flexibility and freedom that the RV lifestyle provides.

Along with my wife, the two of us have been campers for most of our lives. As usual we started out camping in tents. One morning while camping in the rain we woke to find ourselves both cold and wet. That is when we decided to upgrade to an RV. We chose to purchase a 5th wheel. The functionality of a 5th wheel fit our lifestyle perfectly. We just recently migrated into a 2013 Jayco Eagle and absolutely love it.

Our travels have taken us to plenty of exciting places. We have setup camp at Disney World, Wal-Mart parking lots, truck stops and even in the middle of the woods. Each place has its own charm. If I had to put my finger on the best place we have ever been, the truck stop would not be it.

Once while traveling through Vermont we were told that one place we had to visit was the Trapp Family Lodge (famous from the family in the movie Sound of Music). This resort is located on top of a steep mountain. Half way up I said to my wife “are you sure people tow their RVs up here?” It was soon enough that I discovered the answer was “Nope.” At the top there was only a small parking lot and absolutely no room to turn the rig around. After quite some time of maneuvering, I did however manage to get pointed back down the road.

Back in the winter of 2005 I created the website HitchUpandGo. The site was born while planning an upcoming RV trip my wife and I were putting together. We found it quite time consuming searching the entire internet looking for the various links to the information we needed for our trip. As we gathered the links that proved to be the most useful, I placed them on a website.

Other RVers quickly discovered the ease and usefulness of this directory of RV links. HitchUpandGo was designed with the RVer in mind. On the site you will find all the information you will need to make your RV experience a great one. HitchUpandGo wants to allow you more time RVing and less time preparing for your trip. RVing is all about fun and relaxation. We will provide you with everything you will need to get you on your way.

After all wouldn't you rather just....... HitchUpandGo?

Tim R. Enright


Michigan DNR seeks input on management of state forest land

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public feedback
on its draft Regional State Forest Management Plans, which cover
the eastern Upper Peninsula, the western Upper Peninsula and the
northern Lower Peninsula. Broad public input will help the DNR better
plan for the picture-perfect backdrops like these, which offer the
best in camping, hiking, hunting and exploring.
Did you know that Michigan residents are co-owners of nearly 4 million acres of state forest 

Did you know that, as a Michigan resident, you’re co-owner of nearly 4 million acres of state forest land? That’s the amount of forest land the Department of Natural Resources is responsible for managing – while keeping the needs of all forest stakeholders in mind.

Because this forest land belongs to everyone, the DNR wants the public to have a say in how it is used. Now through March 8, 2013, anyone interested in the health and sustainability of the state forest has the chance to do just that by sharing their thoughts about the DNR’s draft Regional State Forest Management Plans (RSFMPs).

 The deadline originally was Jan. 2. It was extended to March 8 due to many requests.

According to Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, the regional plans grew out of a need for better planning and communication between state and local levels.

“After getting a lot of important input from DNR field staff and stakeholders,” he said, “it just made sense to think regionally about the different types of forests that are present in the eastern Upper Peninsula, the western Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula.”

To get the balance right, the DNR worked with a diverse group that included folks from government organizations, outdoor recreation, the forest industry and conservation agencies, as well as everyday citizens. The end product – the draft plans – are on the DNR’s website at www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans.

Ed Rice, a forester with the Department of Natural Resources,
marks the boundary of a future timber sale in Iron County. Each
of the DNR’s Regional State Forest Management Plan drafts
outlines objectives to ensure consistent timber harvest
levels for the 10-year life of each plan.
O’Neill said the department’s aim really was to create a thoughtful, workable set of regional plans that:
  • Recognize the unique needs of individual forest management areas (groupings of existing forest compartments that range in size from approximately 17,000 to 105,000 acres); 
  • Account for regional needs; 
  • Better inform and guide management and operational decisions for timber production and wildlife habitat; and 
  • Help improve communication among all interested individuals and organizations. 

“Sustaining our state forest land is a huge responsibility that requires cooperation from everyone,” said O’Neill, who also serves as state forester. “We worked hard to develop plans that will help ensure quality wildlife habitat and ample recreation opportunities are well represented, while also keeping the needs of the forest industry in mind.

“If you enjoy, care about or rely on Michigan’s state forest land, we want to hear from you. Public review and feedback are vital to the success of these plans.”

O’Neill added that the plans will help guide the DNR in its pursuit of two related missions: the wise current use of natural resources and protection of those resources for the future.

Stakeholder input 
One organization that will be taking a close look at the drafts is the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. Marvin Roberson, a forest policy specialist for the group, stressed how important it is for people who treasure Michigan’s forest land to do the same.

Department of Natural Resources forester Tricia Mitchell conducts
a regeneration survey. Mitchell is determining the surviving density
of red pines from last year’s regeneration efforts. The DNR’s draft
Regional State Forest Management Plans – which are up for public
review until Jan. 2, 2013 – will be used to develop forest treatments that
ensure ample wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities and
meet the needs of current and future generations.
“As stakeholders of our state forest system, we’re excited that this is the first time that the public has really had an opportunity to provide input regionally and not just on a compartment-review level,” said Roberson, who also serves on the DNR’s Forest Management Advisory Committee.

“It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into these drafts that will serve as a blueprint for how our state forest system will be managed,” he added. “While we might not agree with everything that is included in the plans, having the opportunity to voice concerns while they are in the draft stage is an important part of making sure these plans will best reflect our collective needs.”

Jessica Turino, senior forestry services specialist for the Weyerhaeuser NR Company, a wood products business in Grayling, said providing feedback is important for the timber industry – a key economic driver that contributes to a $14 billion statewide industry that supports about 26,000 jobs.

“The DNR Regional State Forest Management Plans are a vital part of sustainably managing the 4 million acres of state forest land we have here in Michigan,” said Turino, who also serves on the DNR’s Timber Advisory Council.

“These plans cover all aspects of natural resource management and are intended to meet the demands of current and future generations,” Turino said. “As a stakeholder, we are pleased to have the opportunity to provide input into this process as we all play a role in the viability of our Michigan forests and the local economies that depend on them.”

Guiding decisions 
Department of Natural Resources forester Dan McNamee inspects
the harvest of an active timber sale in Delta County. Because the
timber industry is vital to Michigan’s economy, the DNR has included
harvest management guides in its draft Regional State Forest Management
Plans for the western Upper Peninsula, the eastern Upper Peninsula
and the northern Lower Peninsula.
Once finalized, the plans will provide long-term, landscape-level direction for resource managers that will guide decisions about specific activities and treatments on state forest land. The plans describe things like:
  • resource conditions;
  • resource management practices;
  • levels of timber production;
  • ecosystem health and protection;
  • vegetative management;
  • wildlife habitat management;
  • fisheries values;
  • recreation opportunities; and
  • soil and water protection. 


The plans also provide for an ecosystem-based approach to management and help to ensure the maintenance of independent, third-party forest certification.

The DNR has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI); both of these agencies have audited the DNR’s forest management practices against biological, social and economic standards and have independently certified those practices as sound, comprehensive and likely sustainable.

Providing feedback
The DNR encourages people to visit www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans, review the plans – especially the sections most relevant to their expertise or interests – and give feedback. Comments may be submitted via email to forestplancomments@michigan.gov.

Scenes like this are a big reason the Department of Natural Resources
drafted the Regional State Forest Management Plans. Working with
partners in government, outdoor recreation, the forest industry
and conservation, as well as citizens, the DNR is working to ensure residents
and visitors can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Michigan’s forest
resources for years to come.
“Now is the time to speak up and tell us what matters most to you about Michigan’s state forests,” said the DNR’s O’Neill. “Take a look at what we’ve put together and let us know what makes sense and what can be improved.”

What comes next? 
Following public review, the DNR will assess the feedback it has received, consult with stakeholders, revise each plan accordingly and prepare for final review and approval by the DNR director at a future meeting of the Natural Resources Commission. Implementation of the Regional State Forest Management Plans will begin with the 2015 compartment review process and will continue over the 10-year life of these plans.

“Michigan’s forests are a huge part of our state’s social, economic and ecological landscape. Camping, hiking, timber production, hunting and other forest-related activities have a positive effect on surrounding communities and individual livelihoods,” O’Neill said.

He added the draft plans do take all of those factors into account, but the DNR would like them to be as comprehensive as they can be – and that means hearing from as many state forest co-owners as possible.

After all, Michigan’s state forest land really does belong to all of us.

To learn more about the draft Regional State Forest Management Plans, go to www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans.

ODNR Approves Funding for more than 100 Outdoor Recreation Projects

COLUMBUS, OH – State and federal grants awarded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Office of Real Estate will fund 105 community-based projects. Funding from the NatureWorks and Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants will be used to establish and renovate parks and improve public access to outdoor recreation facilities.

ODNR administers the NatureWorks and LWCF grant programs. This year these programs will support the acquisition of more than 98 acres of green space as well as the development and improvement of 23 playgrounds, five splash parks and dozens of other local improvement projects. Funding from these grants will also make Ohio’s park infrastructure more accessible.

“The thoughtful and quality projects proposed by local officials reflects a long-term commitment to providing recreational opportunities to their citizens,” said Paul Baldridge, chief of the ODNR Office of Real Estate. “These projects will impact communities for generations and will enhance the quality of life for many Ohioans in the coming years.”

ODNR has recommended that nearly $2 million in NatureWorks grants and more than half a million dollars in LWCF grants be awarded. To view the projects receiving funding, go to: http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/10762/Default.aspx/.

NatureWorks provides up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance to local government subdivisions, such as townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts and conservancy districts for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreational areas. The projects are funded through the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue, which was approved by Ohio voters in November 1993. Additional legislation authorized the creation of the NatureWorks Grant Program.

Similarly, the LWCF provides up to 50 percent reimbursement assistance for state and local government subdivisions, such as villages and cities, for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of outdoor recreational areas. The federal grant program is supported by offshore oil lease revenues and other non-tax sources. Many local parks, trails, pools and other outdoor recreation facilities that Ohioans enjoy today were made possible through the federal program, which has awarded more than $150 million to projects in Ohio since its inception in 1965.

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: A visit to Parke County, Indiana by Visit Indiana



Enjoy this 1:50 video from Visit Indiana on Parke County, one of those great small towns the Great Lakes is famous for.

Here's what Visit Indiana had to say about its video:
Parke County (http://www.coveredbridges.com/) is a rural county in Western Indiana that is best known for being Indiana's Covered Bridge Capital. With 31 covered bridges throughout the county, their Parke County Covered Bridge Festival (hosted each October) brings in visitors from throughout the country. More than just covered bridges, you'll find artisans of all types as well as an historic working grist mill. For a truly old-world experience, be sure to check out Parke County.

Cheboygan State Park to offer lantern-lit cross-country skiing and hiking on Jan. 26

Cheboygan State Park will offer an evening of lantern-lit cross country-skiing and hiking from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. The event will begin at the park trailhead located off Seffern Road, where skiers will find approximately 1.8 miles of groomed and track-set trails lit by lanterns spaced 50 feet apart. Snowshoers and hikers also are welcome to participate, but are asked to keep to one side of the groomed ski tracks.

The event is being hosted by the Cheboygan Yacht Club. Visitors can enjoy a bonfire at the trailhead before starting out. A second bonfire with snacks and hot chocolate will be awaiting participants at the Fourteen Foot Shoals cabin located at the halfway point on the trail.

The event will be held, weather permitting. Those interested in participating should call the park at 231-627-2811 to confirm there is adequate snowfall for skiing and hiking. Cheboygan State Park is located at 4490 Beach Road, two miles southeast of Cheboygan on US-23.

Cheboygan State Park is open throughout the winter for cabin rentals and cross-country skiing. Reservations can be made by calling 800-447-2757 or online at www.midnrreservations.

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.

VIDEO: LED Lighting for your RV


Enjoy this 8:41 video from Dometic, one of the RV industry's leading suppliers, about LED lighting. The video also features one of my favorite RV experts, Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Here's what Dometic had to say about its video:
In this RV how to video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/ demonstrates how easy it is to add LED lighting to the exterior of your RV using LED light kits by Dometic. You have your choice of the Dometic 7-Color LED Light Kit, Lateral Awning Arm LED Light Kit, Universal LED Light Kit or the Add On LED Light Kit. Add a splash of color to your RV.

Snowshoe-making workshop offered at Iron Industry Museum Feb. 2-3

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum will present its first ever snowshoe-making workshop the weekend of February 2-3, offering participants a chance to lace their own pair of traditional snowshoes.

“Snowshoeing has a long history as a mode of transportation in the snowy Upper Peninsula,” said museum historian Troy Henderson. “This workshop celebrates that history and encourages participants to explore our winter landscape.” The Iron Industry Museum is now open year-round and features a new network of trails on the museum grounds.

Class space for this workshop is limited and reservations are required. The class fee of $175 per person includes all materials and a $25 non-refundable reservation fee. For more information about the class and to make reservations, call Troy Henderson at 906-475-7857 or email him at hendersont7@michigan.gov.

The museum entrance is located on US-41E, one mile west of Junction M-35, in Negaunee Township. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum is one of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources. It overlooks the site of the Carp River Forge, a pioneer industrial site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the winter months the museum is open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m, and the first Saturday of each month. For more information call 906-475-7857 or visit online at www.michigan.gov/ironindustrymuseum.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Newsbits for January 2013



2013 Illinois Licenses Available Jan. 21:  Illinois fishing, hunting and sportsman’s combination licenses for 2013 will be available starting Jan. 21 from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR website www.dnr.illinois.gov/online/Pages/default.aspx or by calling 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). The system is available 24 hours a day. The 2013 licenses purchased beginning Jan. 21 will be valid through Mar. 31, 2014 unless otherwise noted.

Late-Winter/CWD Deer Seasons:  Deer hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 7,749 deer during the first segment of the 2012-13 Late-Winter/CWD Deer Seasons on Dec. 27-30, 2012.   The harvest total represented an 18.3 percent increase over the same portion of the season in 2011-12, despite nine fewer counties being open to those seasons this year.  During the 2011-12 Late-Winter/CWD seasons, hunters harvested 6,550 deer from open counties. The final segment of the Late-Winter/CWD seasons will be conducted on Jan. 18-20, 2013.  Unfilled firearm, muzzleloader, and youth deer permits issued for an open county are valid during that period, provided they were issued for an open county.  For those without those valid unfilled deer permits, permits for the Late-Winter Deer Season and the Special CWD Deer Season are available over-the-counter at DNR Direct license vendors (see below). The top five counties’ harvest for the first segment of the Late-Winter/CWD seasons:  Pike (411), Fulton (389), Jo Daviess (351), Adams and Jefferson (tie - 256).  For a list of all participating county harvest totals, go to the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/deer-LW-CWD-firstsegment-Jan2013.pdf

Spring Youth Turkey:  Spring Youth Turkey Special Hunt Area online permit applications will be accepted online from Jan. 15-Feb. 18.  For more information on 2013 spring turkey hunting, check the IDNR website at this link: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/turkey/Pages/SpringTurkeyHunting.aspx
Spring Youth Turkey Season County Permits will be available over-the-counter from IDNR license/permit vendors beginning on March 5.

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.

Pere Marquette Bald Eagle Programs:  Enjoy watching bald eagles on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers near Pere Marquette State Park this winter by participating in one of the park’s popular Bald Eagle Days tours.  The site interpreter at Pere Marquette presents informative programs about bald eagles with all programs beginning at the Pere Marquette Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 618/786-3323.  Programs are on select dates through early March.  To check the schedule of program dates, go to the Pere Marquette State Park web page and click on “Bald Eagle Days” at this link:

Starved Rock Bald Eagle Watch Weekend:  Visitors are invited to the annual Bald Eagle Watch Weekend on Jan. 26-27 at Starved Rock State Park in Utica and the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center (Lock and Dam), hosted by the Illinois Audubon Society, IDNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.  More details are available online at

Kaskaskia Eagle Trek:  Families are invited to attend the HeartLands Conservancy Eagle Trek on Sat., Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam, 4800 Lock and Dam Road, Modoc, IL.  The free event features eagle watching, World Bird Sanctuary programs, lock and dam tours, and children’s activities.  Sponsors include the IDNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, HeartLands Conservancy, Southwestern Illinois College, Kaskaskia Regional Port District, Lower Kaskaskia Stakeholders, Inc., Chester Tourism Committee, and CLIFFTOP.  
Chicago Outdoor Sports Show:  Stop by and visit with IDNR staff and Conservation Police officers, and buy your 2013 licenses, at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources booth during the Chicago Outdoor Sports Show, at the Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL, January 23-27.  For more show information: www.chicagosportsmenshow.com/

Chicagoland Fishing, Travel and Outdoor Expo:  Visit with Illinois DNR staff and learn more about efforts to combat aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp, during the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel and Outdoor Expo, Jan. 24-27 at the Schaumburg Convention Center at I-90 and I-290 (Route 53), Schaumburg.  For more information:  www.sportshows.com/chicago/index.html

Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet:  Tickets are now available for the annual Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet, the evening of Thursday, Jan. 31 at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. Proceeds from the Hall of Fame Banquet assist in funding Illinois Conservation Foundation youth scholarships. For reservations or more information, contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone 217/785-2003, or check the ICF web site at www.ilcf.org.

Camping Reservations:  Make your reservation now for campsites and shelters for many IDNR sites for 2013.  Reservations can be made online through the ReserveAmerica website at www.reserveamerica.com using a Visa or MasterCard.   For more information, check the IDNR website at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/Programs/Camping/

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 http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/about/Pages/SocialNetworking.aspx

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants:  School teachers are encouraged to apply now for the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant program. Pre-K through 12th grade teachers may apply for up to $500 to cover the costs of transportation and substitute teachers for a field trip to one of Illinois’ natural resources sites. The field trip must occur in the calendar year that the funds are received.  The deadline to apply is Jan. 31.  For detailed instructions and the application form, visit http://dnr.state.il.us/education/CLASSRM/grants.htm.  The IDNR, Illinois Conservation Foundation, Independence Tube Corporation, and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation all sponsor this program.  

Earth Day in the Parks:  Teachers can apply now for the 2013 Earth Day in the Parks program, which promotes stewardship of our natural resources by Illinois school children. During April and May, students and their teachers from throughout Illinois will come to participating Illinois state parks to take part in natural resources stewardship activities such as planting native trees and wildflowers; building and installing nesting/roosting boxes; removing invasive exotic species; and building brush piles for wildlife. Students will be helping the environment and wildlife, participating in outdoor activities to increase their fitness, and learning that their actions can make a difference in the world. Students are encouraged to return to the state park to see and study the results of their work. Some classes may want to perform additional volunteer work at the park. Applications to participate in Earth Day in the Parks are accepted through Feb. 28.  For details, go online to http://dnr.state.il.us/education/CLASSRM/EDITPinstruct.htm

VIDEO: Pure Michigan's cross country skiing



Enjoy this video from Pure Michigan about cross country skiing.

Here's what Pure Michigan had to say about their video:
Experience the magic of winter in a whole new light! Every full moon during the ski season the Cross Country Ski Headquarters will light the Trapper's Cabin trail with torches, creating a truly unique and memorable nighttime experience. A bonfire and hot chocolate will be available at Trapper's Cabin as well. Learn more from Bob Frye, owner of Cross Country Ski Headquarters.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman winter program set for Upper Peninsula February 22-24

Women seeking the opportunity to improve their outdoor skills are invited to register for the 12th annual Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) winter program in the Upper Peninsula. The program will be held in Big Bay the weekend of February 22-24.

Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, this BOW workshop offers instruction in more than a dozen kinds of indoor and outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing, fly tying, wilderness first aid, wood burning and more. Instructors provide basic and advanced instruction that is tailored to each participant's individual ability.

The program takes place at Bay Cliff Health Camp, a universally accessible facility, located in a picturesque wooded setting overlooking Lake Superior approximately 30 miles north of Marquette.

The $180 registration fee includes all food and lodging, as well as most equipment and supplies. Participants will be housed in a dorm-style facility with amenities including a sauna and hiking trails with access to Lake Superior.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops are for women, 18 and older, who wish to learn outdoor skills in a relaxed, noncompetitive atmosphere. The winter BOW program also includes special evening activities during the weekend event.

Registration deadline is Monday, Feb. 4, but early registration is recommended as the program fills quickly each year. Class information and registration materials are available online at www.michigan.gov/bow, and payments may now be made online as well. For more information, contact Sharon Pitz at the DNR office in Marquette at 906-228-6561 or email pitzs@michigan.gov.

Michigan DNR seeks instructors for 2013 outdoor fitness programs

While many Michigan residents are still recovering from holiday buffets, the state's Department of Natural Resources is already planning to help them take off those ensuing extra holiday pounds.

The DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division is gearing up its 2013 outdoor programming to motivate residents to stay in shape by spending more of their workout time outside in Michigan’s parks and recreation areas. Along with the continuation of its nationally recognized Recreation 101 program, the division is partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Recreation & Park Association to add a new Fresh Air Fitness program to its stay-in-shape offerings.

“We know that Michigan is among the most obese states in the nation, but with more than 100 state parks and more than 12,000 miles of trails, there’s no excuse not to resolve to get fresh air fit,” said DNR recreation programmer Maia Stephens.

The division currently is seeking experienced volunteer program guides from across the state for its year-round Recreation 101 programs as well as instructors for its new Fresh Air Fitness program set to run between April 15 and Oct. 1.

The DNR’s ongoing Recreation 101 programs, which began in 2011, take place at Michigan state parks, recreation areas and boating facilities across the state and consist of free, introductory lessons to acquaint novice outdoor enthusiasts with the skills and knowledge to get them started in a new activity or sport.

In prior years, lessons have included more than 50 different outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, paddling, horseback riding, geocaching, birding and trail running. The course offerings are only limited by the particular skills and interests of the participating instructors.

Volunteer instructors should have a passion for the outdoors and a desire to share their recreation knowledge and skills. Along with individuals who are proficient in their particular field, ideal guides would be outfitters, retailers or brand representatives who can provide hands-on sample gear for students to try.

Incorporating physical fitness into the great outdoors uses all the senses and connects the body and mind. Programs such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi or aquatic fitness advance to a whole new level when surrounded by nature.

The Parks and Recreation Division is seeking instructors interested in taking their fitness programs outdoors as well as recreational group leaders willing to organize weekly outings such mountain biking trips or canoe or kayaking trips. A commercial use permit required for Fresh Air Fitness instructors is an annual $50 fee per instructor or organization. The instructor can then charge participants a fee of fair market value.

For more information on the opportunities available for Recreation 101 volunteer instructors or Fresh Air Fitness instructors or to sign up, contact Maia Stephens at 989-225-8573 or stephensm3@michigan.gov to be connected with a regional recreation programmer who can assist with scheduling and marketing in 2013.

12 Ways to Enjoy a Pure Michigan Winter

According to a Harris Interactive online nationwide survey conducted on behalf of Travel Michigan, 48 percent of U.S. adults embrace the snow and look forward to participating in winter sports and activities.

The new Pure Michigan Winter video series – with all 13 videos now available – demonstrates the diversity of winter activities Michigan has to offer for snow enthusiasts and showcases just how much fun winter weather can be to those who may traditionally stay indoors.

Pure Michigan winter television and radio ads in key markets in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin will also begin airing December 31 and run through the end of January.

“From skiing and snowmobiling to ice fishing and dog sledding, Michigan is the perfect winter playground for all ages and interests,” said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We embrace snow and are excited to welcome visitors to our state to experience the diversity, beauty and adventure Michigan has to offer during the winter months.”

The series features a winter wonderland overview video along with 12 winter attractions and activities that make Michigan a great winter destination, including snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing, dog sledding and ice sailing. Each video features an expert commentator who takes viewers on a winter adventure illustrated with sweeping, scenic views of Michigan’s winter landscape and destinations around the state.

Winter activities including sledding and tubing (50 percent), snowmobiling (36 percent), downhill skiing (30 percent) and snowboarding (28 percent) topped the list among those surveyed who would like to participate in winter sports. Visit www.michigan.org/winter for complete survey results.

Michigan has the landscape and terrain that makes it the perfect location for all winter activities. With 51 downhill ski areas boasting 260 lifts and nearly 1,000 runs, more than 6,200 miles of snowmobile trails, 3,000 miles of cross country skiing trails and ice climbing towers ranging from 45 – 75 feet tall, Michigan is the winter wonderland state.

To plan your winter vacation, visit michigan.org.

Upcoming RV Shows in the Great Lakes states


Author's note: I'm sorry I'm a little late in getting this posted as some area RV shows have already come and gone, but better late than never I suppose.

ILLINOIS
Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show
January 9-13, 2013
McCormick Place North - Chicago, IL

45th Annual Chicago RV & Camping Show
February 13-17, 2013
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center - Rosemont, IL

Central Illinois Recreational Show
March 1-3, 2013
Peoria Civic Center - Peoria, IL

42nd Annual Rockford RV, Camping & Travel Show
March 22-24, 2013
Indoor Sports Center - Loves Park, IL

Springfield RV & Camping Show
March 22-24, 2013
Prairie Capital Conventrion Center - Springfield, IL

INDIANA
45th Annual Central Indiana RV Show
January 12-20, 2013
Indiana State Fairgrounds - West Pavilion - Indianapolis, IN

39th Annual Valley RV & Camping Show
January 18-20, 2013
Century Center Convention Complex - South Bend, IN

53rd Annual Fort Wayne RV & Camping Show
January 31 - February 3, 2013
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum - Fort Wayne, IN

Ford 59th Annual Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show
February 15-24, 2013
Indiana State Fairgrounds - Indianapolis, IN

57th Annual Midwest RV Super Show
2013 Dates TBA
RV/MH Hall of Fame - Elkhart, IN

Michigan City RV Show
August 22-25, 2013
Washington Park - Michigan City, IN

Fall Boat & RV Show & Sale
2013 Dates TBA
Indiana State Fairgrounds - Indianapolis, IN

MICHIGAN
Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show
January 17-20, 2013
DeVos Place - Downtown Grand Rapids - Grand Rapids, MI

2013 Family RV Show
January 17-20, 2013
Michigan State Univerity Agricultural Pavilion - East Lansing, MI

47th Annual Detroit Camper & RV Show
February 6-10, 2013
Suburban Collection Showplace - Novi, MI

The MARVAC Battle Creek Camper & RV Show
March 7-10, 2013
Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek, MI

36th Annual Flint Camper & RV Show
March 14-17, 2013
Perani Arena & Event Center, Flint, MI

21st Annual Northwest Michigan Camper & RV Show
March 22-24, 2013
Grand Traverse County Civic Center - Traverse City, MI

24rd Annual Detroit Fall Camper & RV Show
October 2-6, 2013
Suburban Collection Showplace - Novi, MI 

MINNESOTA
43rd Annual Minnesota Sportsmen's Boat, Camping & Vacation Show
January 10-13, 2013
St. Paul Rivercentre - St. Paul, MN

46th Annual Minneapolis St. Paul RV Vacation & Camping Show
February 7-10, 2013
Minneapolis Convention Center - Minneapolis, MN

25th Annual St. Cloud Sportsmen's Boat, Camping & Vacation Show
February 8-10, 2013
St. Cloud Civic Center, St. Cloud, MN

47th Annual Duluth Boat Sports Travel & RV Show
February 13-17, 2013
Duluth Entertainment Convention Center - Duluth, MN

81st Annual Northwest Sportshow
March 21-24, 2013
Minneapolis Convention Center - Minneapolis, MN  

NEW YORK
Western New York RV Show
January 18-27, 2013
Erie County Fair Grounds, Hamburg, NY

39th Annual Northeast RV Show
February 15-19, 2013
Rockland Community College Field House - Suffern, NY

43rd Annual RV & Camping Show and Sale
February 28 - March 3, 2013
New York State Fairgrounds - Syracuse, NY

7th Annual Binghamton Camper & RV Show
March 8-10, 2013
Binghamton University Event Center - Vestal, NY

21st Annual Champlain Valley RV & Boat Show
March 23-24, 2013
Crete Memorial Civic Center - Plattsburgh, NY

3rd Annual Western New York "Mega" RV & Boat Show
April 12-14, 2013
Fairgrounds Event Center - Hamburg, NY

30th Annual Northeast Fall RV Show
September 27-29, 2013
Rockland Community College Field House - Suffern, NY  

OHIO
36th Annual Ohio RV Super Show
January 9-13, 2013
I-X Center - Cleveland, OH

The Ohio RV & Boat Show
January 5-13, 2013
Ohio Expo Center - State Fairgrounds - Columbus, OH

Cincinati - Dayton RV Super Show
January 17-21, 2013
Airport Expo Center - Dayton, OH

Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show
January 18-20 & 23-27, 2013
Duke Enregy Cinicinnati Convention Center - Cincinnati, OH

9th Annual Columbus RV Super Show
March 8-10, 2013
Ohio Expo Center & State - Columbus, OH

Outdoor RV Bargain Expo
2013 Dates TBA
I-X Center - Cleveland, OH  

PENNSYLVANIA
The Original Pittsburgh RV Show
January 12-20, 2013
The David L. Lawrence Convention Center - Pittsburgh, PA

52nd Annual RV & Campgrounds Show
January 11-13, 2013
Allentown Fairgrounds, Agricultural Hall - Allentown, PA

Erie RV, Camping & Powersports Spectacular
February 7-10, 2013
Bayfront Convention Center - Erie, PA

Greater Philadelphia RV Show
February 28 - March 3, 2013
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center - Oaks, PA

York Campers World RV Show
March 8-10, 2013
York Expo Center - York, PA

44th Annual Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show
September 11-15. 2013
Hersheypark Entertainment Complex - Giant Center - Hershey, PA  

WISCONSIN
WBAY RV & Camping Show
January 17-20, 2013
Brown County Veterans Memoria Arena and Shopko Hall - Green Bay, WI

Madison Camper & RV Show & Sale
February 1-3, 2013
Alliant Energy Center, Exhibition Hall - Madison, WI

36th Annual La Crosse Boat Sports Travel and RV Show
February 7-10, 2013
La Crosse Center - La Crosse, WI

Milwaukee RV Show
February 21-24, 2013
Wisconsin Exposition Center - West Alias, WI

Central Wisconsin RV & Camping Show
March 8-10, 2013
The Patriot Center - Wausau, WI  

ONTARIO
Toronto RV Show & Extravaganza
Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto, ON
January 17 – 20, 2013
www.rvshowtoronto.ca

Hamilton RV Camping Show
Careport Expo Centre, Hamilton, ON
February 1 – 3, 2013
www.rvshowhamilton.ca

Toronto International RV Show
Toronto International Centre, Toronto, ON
February 28 – March 3, 2013
www.torontointernationalrvshow.ca

Kitchener RV Show & Extravaganza
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium (The Aud), Kitchener, ON
April 5 - 7, 2013
www.rvshowkitchener.ca

Toronto Fall RV Show
Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto, ON
October 18 – 20, 2013
www.rvshowfalltoronto.ca