Monitoring the health of Michigan’s forests by air and on land

Oak wilt – an invasive, exotic disease – can be spread in infected firewood.
(DNR photos)
Forestry is a relatively young science in the Lake States. Native insects and diseases influence the forest
differently as the forest grows older, as the forest succeeds to different mixtures of trees, and as climate extremes – droughts and warming trends – change the playing field.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Forest Health program monitors the occurrence and impacts of both native and exotic forest insects and diseases. Understanding the impacts of pests and other stressors helps resource managers make short-term and long-range plans to keep Michigan’s forest ecosystems functioning sustainably and productively.

“We spend time flying over the forests looking for problems like defoliation, discolored leaves and tree mortality,” said DNR forest health specialist Dr. Robert Heyd. “We spend time evaluating the seriousness of problems detected from the air or reported by forest resource managers and the public.

“Mostly what we see as we fly Michigan’s 20 million acres of forest land are healthy forests. Occasionally we have widespread outbreaks like the forest tent caterpillar and gypsy moth defoliation of hardwoods in the northern Lower Peninsula, which lasted for several years and ended in 2011.”

Different tree species have different site requirements (e.g., soil, moisture and climate). Trees growing on suitable sites are healthier and less likely damaged by native pests.

“When our forests are stressed by events like extended droughts, trees occurring on less-than-optimum sites, and trees that are toward the end of their natural life, they are most heavily impacted,” Heyd said. “Impacts include declining health as evidenced by branches in the upper crown dying and discoloring. These weakened trees are more susceptible to ‘secondary pests’.”

Large beech trees killed by beech bark disease were
removed along a trail in Tahquamenon State Park
to ensure the safety of park visitors.
Heyd explained that secondary pests are those that only impact weakened trees. Examples include bark beetles of pine and root rots of hardwoods. Healthy pines produce pitch such that when bark beetles try to chew through the bark, they are “pitched-out”. When pines are weakened, they produce less pitch, allowing bark beetles to successfully attack the tree. In hardwoods, healthy trees produce chemicals and stored energy such that root rots cannot invade roots. But stressed trees have less energy for such chemicals and are successfully invaded.

It takes a few years of normal rainfall for trees to completely recover energy reserves and corresponding defenses to pest attacks.

“Adding an inch of water to the rooting zone of yard trees during periods of drought is the single most important way to keep the trees healthy and resistant to native pests,” said Roger Mech, DNR forest health specialist. “Of course, exotic pests like oak wilt and the emerald ash borer attack both healthy and weakened trees.”

DNR forest health specialist Roger Mech and DNR pilot
Bill Green take aerial photographs to record and assess
the severity of impacts of forest health events.
The DNR also recommends keeping the following in mind:

If planting a tree or thinning a woodlot, it is important to match selected tree species to the planting site. Be sure that the tree selected actually grows in that area and that is is matched to the site in terms of soil and the availability of sunlight.

In a woodlot, promote trees that are best adapted to the site, are growing vigorously and have no serious pest problems.

It is always best to seek the assistance of a consulting forester when managing a woodlot.

In addition to native pests, people continue to import exotic insects, diseases and plants, some of which greatly influence the function and appearance of forest ecosystems. Although there are quarantines preventing the introduction of pests from other countries, inspecting the approximately 300 million shipping containers received annually is a daunting task.

Monitoring insect populations using traps, such as this
one being emptied by DNR forest health specialist Roger Mech,
allows entomologists and managers to decide when control
may be needed, and what controls are most appropriate.
Well-known examples of exotic pests include Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, beech bark disease, the
emerald ash borer, oak wilt and the gypsy moth. Once introduced, imported insect and disease problems continue to move around the country in firewood and nursery stock. Exotic plant species such as purple loosestrife, spotted knapweed, garlic mustard and buckthorn are examples of exotic plants that can disrupt native ecosystems.

During the growing or bug season, forest health specialists said they are busy answering daily inquires like: "What's killing (or feeding on) my tree?" or "What bug is this?"

“Answering these questions serves many purposes,” Mech said. “Understanding that a condition or pest is not damaging is as important as knowing what to do about serious pests. Knowing that an insect isn't really harmful creates peace of mind, improves environmental awareness, saves the caller the expense of treatment, and eliminates or reduces the unnecessary use of pesticides.”

When not surveying Michigan's forests or evaluating the impact of a current pest situation, DNR forest health specialists work with state, federal, private and industrial resource managers. Helping natural resource managers recognize and manage current and long-term forest health problems is an important part of the job. News releases, reports and a Forest Health program website ( are used to inform and educate professionals and the public.

The DNR’s Forest Health program monitors the long-term health of Michigan's forest resource by using a network of permanently established survey plots that are monitored over time. This helps to detect more subtle changes in forest condition, growth and productivity.

Entire hillsides are defoliated by the exotic, invasive gypsy
moth, such as shown here in Barry County. DNR forest health
specialists monitor these events and take management actions,
as appropriate, to conserve the forest resources.
Monitoring the health of Michigan's forest has been and continues to be greatly enhanced by advances in
computer-aided data analysis, navigation, mapping and image-processing technologies. So, as in many professions these days, there is a vital place for the application and advancement of technology.

“All of these tools help us meet the Forest Health program goal of keeping forest ecosystems functioning well over long periods of time to provide resilience to short-term stress and adaptation to long-term change,” Heyd said. “The health and sustainability of Michigan’s forests are vital to ensuring this natural resource can be enjoyed and used by current and future generations.”

For more information about the DNR’s Forest Health program, or to read the 2012 Forest Health Highlights Report, visit

Visitors to Toast Sunset at Fallingwater’s 18th Annual Twilight Tour

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy invites the public to enjoy Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, as the sun sets over Bear Run Nature Reserve during the 18th Annual Twilight Tour and Concert on Saturday, Aug. 24.

The Conservancy is now accepting reservations for the Fallingwater Twilight Tour, concert and picnic dinner, sponsored by Huntington Bank. The event, held at Fallingwater near Mill Run, Pa., allows guests to enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres on the bridge outside the house and a leisurely, self-guided tour of the house. At twilight, a lantern-lit path will lead guests to a meadow, where they will enjoy live jazz featuring Brazilian jazz singer Kenia while dining on a gourmet picnic dinner prepared by Fallingwater’s chef.

“The Fallingwater Twilight Tour and dinner is a one-of-a-kind event at one of the world’s extraordinary houses,” said Lynda Waggoner, WPC vice president and director of Fallingwater. “So many of our guests can’t wait for this time of year, when they can watch night fall in the Laurel Highlands.”

The Twilight Tour begins at 6:30 p.m. and the picnic and jazz performance start at 8 p.m. Tickets are available by advance purchase only and are priced at $225 per person for non-members and $200 per person for members, $100 of which is tax-deductible.

“The Fallingwater Twilight Tour is an enchanting evening at one of the world’s most exceptional places. All of us at Huntington are honored to support the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in their mission to carry on the legacy of Fallingwater – a symbol of people living in harmony with nature,” said Susie Shipley, Huntington President of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley.

Proceeds from the event support the ongoing preservation of Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most acclaimed works and the “best all-time work of American architecture,” according to members of the American Institute of Architects.

Tickets may be purchased by calling Fallingwater at 724-329-8501 or by visiting If purchasing tickets online, please also email Katlyn Andyjohn, event coordinator, at and let her know of any dietary restrictions. Lawn chairs and flashlights will be provided.

Tips to prevent ticks from taking over your camping trip

Author's note: The following press release is geared toward tick prevention for kids heading off to summer camp, but I think it very easily applies to RVing and camping, too.

This summer as thousands of children across the U.S. leave for camp, the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives, and promoting advocacy to find a cure for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, is calling on parents to take proper precautions to protect their little ones from tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. This is especially important as studies have shown the highest reported incidence of Lyme disease occurs among children ages five to fourteen years old.

Deer ticks are active all year round, but their peak season of activity begins in May and continues through September throughout the United States. In order to feed, these small bugs (no bigger than a poppy seed) seek a host, including mice, birds, squirrels, deer, and unfortunately, children. Deer ticks thrive in humid environments and can be found virtually anywhere their hosts live from woodlands, lawns and playing fields, to tree stumps and picnic tables - areas commonly found at outdoor summer camps.

"Deer ticks are cesspools of disease, and they put your children at risk of contracting Lyme disease and many other potentially debilitating diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia and mycoplasma," explains Bob Oley, TBDA Public Health Consultant. "These microscopic bugs pose an enormous threat to our children, who are especially vulnerable during the summer months. It is imperative to educate ourselves about tick-borne diseases, and take the necessary precautions to protect our children from them."

Before sending children to summer camp, TBDA recommends that parents take the following steps to protect children from ticks and tick-borne diseases:
  • Ask questions. Ask the summer camp your child is attending if they have a tick management program in place to protect campers. Camps should also notify parents immediately if an embedded tick is found on one of their children, as prompt medical treatment may be advisable.
  • Pack accordingly. Purchase tick repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Send your children with light colored clothing that will make it easier to spot ticks.
  • Protect the clothing.Children are only as safe as their clothing. All outdoor garments (t-shirts, pants, sweat shirts, shorts, socks) should be sprayed with permethrin. Shoe wear should be sprayed as well. This is one of the easiest things to do, and it has big prevention payoffs. Parents can treat clothing (good for 6 washings) or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for 70 washings) with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, LLBean, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.
  • Keep the outdoors, outdoors. If your children attend a day camp, keep their outside clothes outside your home, as ticks can be on clothing from outdoor activities. When your children come home at the end of the camp day, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage. As soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes. The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  • Educate your children. Children may not be able to identify a tick, but they can learn how to protect themselves. Educate them about the areas they as campers should try to avoid, the tick repellent clothes they should wear, and how to properly use tick repellent on exposed skin.Teach children how to conduct body checks for ticks after outside activities and at night before they go to bed. If they are under the age of ten, discuss tick prevention with a camp counselor and make sure those in charge are aware of these precautions.  
Click here to read more of TBDA Public Health Consultant Bob Oley's tips for protecting your children from tick-borne diseases this summer.

To learn more about the threat of tick-borne diseases and what you can do to help build awareness about the health crisis posed by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, visit

About the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) 
The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives and promoting advocacy to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. As part of its efforts, TBDA is embarking on a quest to develop a reliable diagnostic tool as a first step toward eradicating the diseases. Working with others in the tick-borne disease community nationwide, TBDA seeks to raise public awareness through education and create a unified voice for advocacy regarding the current epidemic in order to make a real difference. More information about TBDA, Lyme and tick-borne diseases, and prevention and protection can be found at

Best National Parks for Camping

The Travel Channel recently on the Best National Parks in which to go camping.

"Embrace nature, and sleep under the stars in one of the country's great national parks," she wrote. "The parks' 1000s of campsites offer something for everyone. Families unload minivans or RVs and create a home away from home with multiroom tents and campfire feasts at well-appointed campsites, while backpackers rest their achy bones at isolated backcountry spots. Here are some of the best places to go camping at national parks."

Plum Auvil separated the list into categories, and for the Best National Park for RV Camping she selected Yosemite National Park, California

"Yosemite National Park is a great option for car campers and road-tripping RVers who don't want to leave behind all of the comforts of home," she wrote. "The park has 10 campgrounds with ample space for RVs and trailers. There are no utility hookups at any of the sites, but you will find bathrooms, fire pits and food lockers. Get your reservations as early as possible as campgrounds fill up quickly during prime tourist season from April through September. In Yosemite Valley, RVs can unpack and settle in Upper, Lower and North Pines campgrounds and enjoy great views of the towering rock formations and easy access to hiking trails to Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls."

The other categories included: Beach Camping, Backcountry Camping, Forest Camping and Isolated Camping. Click on the link above to see which park won for each category.

New all-natural bracelets, stickers make mosquitos buzz off

Author's disclaimer: I have no idea if these things work, but I'd thought I'd pass along their press release just in case someone out there would like to try, and then let us know. The cartoon of the guy with the mosquito on his nose is totally my idea.

Forget coating your self in messy, toxic bug sprays, Mosquitno creates long-lasting personal repellent zone with safe, fun, and easy bug repellent products

Ugly red bumps and constant itching are accepted as a part of enjoying summer activities outdoors, but avoiding bites from mosquitos, flies and no-see-um bugs will be much easier and healthier this summer. Mosquitno has created a simple, fun, and all-natural way for children and adults to stay bug-bite free without the use of sprays that can contain chemicals and leave residues on your skin and clothes. Now, before you head outdoors, just slip on a Mosquitno Bandz wristband, or strategically place a few Spotz stickers on your clothes near exposed areas of skin.

Mosquitno Bandz are all-natural, non-toxic wristbands made of silicone rubber and infused with 100% citronella oil. Each Mosquitno Band contains enough citronella to effectively repel bugs for up to 150 hours (or six days). Available in eight solid colors, camouflage, tie-dye and glow-in-the-dark in sizes for adults and children, each Mosquitno Band is comes in a resealable pouch to preserve effectiveness between uses.

The pleasant-smelling citronella oil infused into Mosquitno Bandz and Spotz works by masking human scents – carbon dioxide and sweat - that attract bugs. The Bandz and Spotz are more effective than citronella candles because they are worn on your body and the citronella scent isn’t blown away by wind.

Mosquitno also comes in Spotz stickers. The durable peel-and-stick Spotz are also infused with 100% citronella. Spotz are great for extra protection along your neckline and ankles. Stick them to your shirt, pants, socks, shoes or hat. Powerful enough to repel bugs for up to 72 hours, Mosquitno Spotz are available in 5 themes including: earth tones, primary colors, kids, sports and specialty.

Mosquitno Bandz for kids and adults have an MSRP of $3.99 and a sheet of six Mosquitno Spotz have an MSRP of $3.99 as well. All Mosquitno products are non-toxic, chemical-free and DEET-free. Used Mosquitno Bandz can be mailed back to the company for recycling in return for two new, free Mosquitno Bandz (for every 10 returned). Mosquitno Bandz and Spotz are available at retailers nationwide or online at

About Mosquitno 
Mosquitno was created by health-conscious nature-lovers to help people young and old enjoy what they love to do outdoors while keeping bugs away with fun, safe and easy repellent products. Mosquitno contributes to UNICEF to help children worldwide affected by Malaria, Dengue Fever, West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Mosquitno also supports instilling a love of outdoor activities and outdoor education programs with donations to several camps including Camp Ogichi Daa Kwe and Camp Kooch-i-ching in Minnesota. For more information visit

VIDEO: Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping named 'No. 1 Favorite Campground'

Over the week of the Fourth of July this summer, we stayed at Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping.

We enjoyed our time - here's a link to our video review of the campground - so we're not surprised to find that Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping has been voted as the top rated campground in Michigan!

The campground was chosen as the number one favorite campground in northern Michigan by TV 9 and 10 viewers in a recent news segment called "MiFavoriteThings."

"It’s an honor to be recognized with such a title as we are always striving to provide the most enjoyable experience for all our guests," said a spokesman for Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in a press release.

In the video above you can watch a clip of the news segment that TV 9&10 aired after their recent visit to the camp during which they interviewed Vince Rogala, one of the four brothers who own and operate the camp.

Learn to fish this summer at a 'Hook, Line and Sinker' Michigan DNR program

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites those who would like to learn how to fish to attend a free “Hook, Line and Sinker” program offered at over 30 state parks and hatcheries across the state this summer. Experienced, friendly instructors will teach participants fishing basics, like knot-tying, casting, selecting and using bait, and removing the fish from the hook.

“Our instructors make it fun to learn, and a program like this takes the guesswork out of getting started,” said Kevin Frailey, who oversees the program. “It doesn’t cost much — the program is free, the instruction is free, and all equipment is provided for those who don’t have their own. The only thing you need to pay for is a Recreation Passport if you don’t have one yet.”

To find a Hook, Line and Sinker program near you, visit for a list of participating parks. Programs are being added regularly, so bookmark the page and check back often.

As always, children under the age of 17 are not required to have a fishing license. Hook, Line and Sinker programs are free; however, a Recreation Passport is required for each vehicle entering the park.

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. By checking “YES” for the $11 Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate through the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at or at branch offices), Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches.

Learn more about this creative way of sustaining Michigan's outdoor recreation and natural resources at

VIDEO: 2014 King Aire Motorhome by Newmar

Enjoy this 20:25 video of the 2014 King Aire Motorhome by Newmar.

Here's what Newmar had to say about its video:
Let Newmar introduce you to the newest standard in road royalty for life's highway. It's good to be the king. Check out our new website at

Visitors Commend Ohio State Parks for Service Excellence

Fun recreational activities abound for families at Ohio State Parks throughout the summer, with opportunities to go hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, camping, golfing, bike riding and more. Five Ohio State Parks and an Ohio State Park Lodge have received Service Excellence Awards, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). These annual awards are based on customer feedback, including customer satisfaction surveys, and are given to individual facilities in recognition of excellent customer service and outstanding amenities.

“Our goal at Ohio State Parks is to provide each of our guests with an enjoyable and positive experience every time they choose to visit,” said ODNR Deputy Director Glen Cobb. “Customer feedback is an invaluable tool for our staff, and it provides us with the information necessary to immediately improve our customers’ experience.”

Visitors returned a total 11,159 surveys during 2012. Ohio State Parks achieved an overall satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5 in both employee helpfulness and overall visit. To be eligible for an award, a park must receive at least 100 survey responses. The awards were presented by ODNR Director James Zehringer during the annual Ohio State Parks Manager Conference at Hueston Woods State Park.

Malabar Farm was ranked by visitors as the best day-use park in the state system. The former home of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Louis Bromfield, the house and farm reflects the agricultural tradition of Ohio while focusing on Bromfield’s life and philosophies. In addition to the historical buildings and working farm, the park features guided tours and regular special events, 12 miles of hiking and horse trails, fishing pond, horseman’s camp and visitor’s center.

Located in southeastern Ohio, Paint Creek State Park was the top choice for smaller campgrounds. Paint Creek offers 197 electric campsites along with 6 miles of hiking trails, 12 miles of mountain bike trails, large beach, archery range, nature center and summer nature programs. Three boat launch ramps provide access to Paint Creek where unlimited horsepower boating is permitted.

The top pick for outstanding large campground was West Branch State Park located in Portage County. The park’s family campground has 198 campsites; the park also offers four group camp areas with an additional 90 sites. The 5,370-acre lake offers many forks and coves for fishing, boating and swimming. The park also boasts a 700-foot sand beach, marina, picnic areas and two boat ramps.

For visitors who chose to experience staying in a getaway rental last year, Pymatuning State Park was named best cottage park. Located on the western shore of Pymatuning Reservoir, this 3,500-acre facility features 56 cottages in addition to 370 campsites, two beaches, 2 miles of hiking trail and a number of picnic shelters and picnic areas. A popular spot for boaters, Pymatuning has five boat launch ramps and boating concessions for both day-use and overnight visitors using the 14,000-acre reservoir.

Reviews from golfing enthusiasts put Deer Creek State Park at the top of the list for state park golf courses. The highly rated, 350-acre course features 18 holes and is located near Deer Creek State Park Lodge. The course’s 10 ponds and 52 sand traps provide exciting challenges for golfers. Located within an hour of central Ohio, Deer Creek State Park offers cottages, campground, swimming beach and boating opportunities.

Ohio State Parks is home to eight resort lodges, more than 500 cottages, six golf courses and 56 family campgrounds with more than 9,000 campsites. For more information on overnight stays, visit

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

VIDEO: Jayco 2014 Class A Precept

Enjoy this 2:31 video from Jayco RV on the all-new Jayco Class A Precept.

Here's what Jayco had to say about its video:
Jayco is proud to introduce the all-new 2014 Precept, a Class A gas-powered motorhome built on a Ford F53 chassis with Jayco's ride-enhancing JRide package.

New programs, exhibits illustrate attack on Fort Michilimackinac 250 years ago

Visitors to Colonial Michilimackinac gather outside the
newly built rowhouse. (DNR photos)
Most Michigan school children have heard the story of when the Ojibwa tribe attacked Fort
Michilimackinac. Now, 250 years later, the Department of Natural Resources is commemorating the attack with new a building and new programming at Fort Michilimackinac. A new rowhouse, which has been under construction since October 2011, has recently been completed and is now open to the public.

On June 2, 1763, more than 400 Ojibwa men had assembled outside the fort walls to play a game of baggatiway (a game similar to lacrosse) against visiting Sauk tribesmen. Upon hearing a prearranged signal, the players tossed the ball near the fort gates, which were open at the time. (While many have heard that the ball was tossed over the wall, the account from Capt. George Etherington states that the ball was tossed near him, as he watched the game.)

As the players ran towards the ball, native women watching the game distributed weapons that they had hidden under their blanket robes. Now armed, the players rushed inside the gates, immediately taking the fort’s commandant (Etherington) and another officer prisoner. Other soldiers, surprised by the speed of the attack, could not offer resistance. Many were quickly run down and killed.

When the attack ended a few minutes later, 15 soldiers were dead, the rest were prisoners, and the Ojibwa controlled Michilimackinac. Native people around the Great Lakes, inspired by the Odawa war leader Pontiac, made similar attacks on other British forts. By the end of the summer of 1763, Forts Michilimackinac, Ouiatenon, Miami, St. Joseph, Presque Isle, Venango, Le Boeuf and Sandusky had fallen. Only four British posts (Detroit, Ft. Niagara, Ft. Pitt, and Ft. Edward Augustus) remained in British hands as the uprising ended.

VIsitors await the start of the new audio--visual program,
"Attack! At Michilimackinac," 250 years after the event.
The largest reconstruction ever undertaken at the site -- and the first in 23 years -- the South Southwest Rowhouse represents more than just a year and a half of building. It is the result of archaeological excavations dating back to the 1960s and years of planning and research.

“Our staff has worked tirelessly at every level to make this a reality,” said Phil Porter, director for Mackinac State Historic Parks, the organization responsible for the care of Colonial Michilimackinac and other historic sites in the Straits of Mackinac.

“Everything -- from the archaeological and historical research, the architectural style of the building, the brand-new exhibits, concept and filming of the audio-visual program -- has been executed to the smallest detail,” Porter said. “We’ve worked hard to make an authentic, memorable experience for our guests.”

One half of the reconstructed rowhouse features an audio-visual presentation of the attack at Michilimackinac. Principal photography took place in the summer, with some additional shots taken this past winter. Using a green screen and lighting effects, the actors look as if they are standing right inside the rowhouse in the finished product, a feat that seemed impossible during construction. Now complete, the immersive 15-minute experience shows not just the single attack at Fort Michilimackinac, but the events leading up to and following this and several other attacks throughout North America as part of Pontiac’s Uprising.

Artifacts at a new Colonial Michilimackinac exhibit illustrate
the story of the French influence on the Straits of Mackinac.
A new book, authored by Keith Widder and co-published by Michigan State University Press and
Mackinac State Historic Parks, has been released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the attack. “Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763” is a richly illustrated work. Painstakingly researched to feature the variety of causes and events that led to these orchestrated attacks of British military garrisons, the book details the attack at Fort Michilimackinac.

The opposite end of the new rowhouse is home to “France at Mackinac.” Detailing the French influence on the Straits of Mackinac, it features a number of artifacts excavated from the site and interactive displays describing the people of the region. Among the featured components of the new exhibit are the ruins of the fireplace from the original building, which was constructed more than 250 years ago. This particular fireplace is one of the few remaining structures left standing after British soldiers demolished the fort in 1780-81.

As part of one of the longest ongoing archaeological digs in North America, the remnants of the rowhouse and the fireplace were carefully excavated over a number of years from 1963 to 2007. Stone fireplaces such as this one were found in nearly every house at Michilimackinac, but this is the only one that remains, as it was covered and preserved in a hill of sand soon after the demolition. This fireplace ruin served as a model for the stone masons to create a similar fireplace on the east end of the building, showing how the stone hearth would have looked when originally built around 1750.

The South Southwest Rowhouse is only one of more than a dozen historically reconstructed buildings at Colonial Michilimackinac. Open seven days a week until mid-October, Colonial Michilimackinac features regular daily programming including cannon and musket firing demonstrations, hearth cooking, crafts and an on-site archaeology excavation where explorers continue to pull centuries-old artifacts from the soil.

Admission is $11 for adults, $6.50 for youths age 5 to 17. Children 4 and under are free.

For more information, visit

Help keep Great Lakes’ beaches "Barefoot Friendly"

Editor's note: The following letter came to me recently. If anyone has the time, this is a great volunteer opportunity.

In an effort to help keep Great Lakes’ beaches "Barefoot Friendly," we'd like to invite you and your readers to attend public beach cleanups and celebrations throughout Michigan as part of the Barefoot Wine & Bubbly beach cleanup tour.

For more information on events in your area, visit

Barefoot Wine is teaming up with the Alliance for the Great Lakes and other local organizations to host public Adopt-a-Beach™ cleanups on Michigan’s beaches and shorelines. Following each cleanup, volunteers age 21 and older are invited to attend a celebration featuring Barefoot Wine and surf-inspired fare.

During last year’s efforts, more than 12,000 Adopt-a-Beach volunteers removed 42,351 pounds of trash at 327 locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Barefoot Wine, fun, flavorful, and affordable wine and bubblies.
Alliance for the Great Lakes, a nonprofit organization with the mission of conserving and restoring the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education, and local efforts, ensuring healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife.

Stearns Park Beach Cleanup with A Few Friends for the Environment of the World:
• Tuesday, July 23, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
• Cleanup - Stearns Outer Drive, Ludington, MI 49431
• Celebration - 125 South James Street, Ludington, MI 49431

Traverse City Beach Cleanup with The Watershed Center and Traverse City Young Professionals:
• Thursday, August 8, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
• Cleanup - Meet in the Holiday Inn parking lot at the Barefoot Wine Tent at 615 East Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686
• Celebration - 615 East Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686

Bell Isle Beach Cleanup with the Belle Isle Conservancy:
• Thursday, August 15, 2013 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
• Cleanup - 1 Riverbank Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
• Celebration - 1 Riverbank Drive, Detroit, MI 48207

Pere Marquette Park Cleanup with Muskegon Save Our Shoreline:
• Saturday, August 17, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
• Cleanup - 3510 Channel Drive, Muskegon, MI 49441
• Celebration - 3505 Marina View Point, Muskegon, MI 49441

Grand Haven State Park Cleanup:
• Wednesday, August 21, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
• Cleanup - 1001 South Harbor Drive, Grand Haven, MI 49417
• Celebration - 2 Washington, Grand Haven, MI 49417

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Newsbits

Camping Reservations: Make your Illinois campsite and shelter reservations for many IDNR sites online using a Visa or MasterCard. For more information, check the IDNR website at

ICF Raffle: Buy tickets now for the 2013 Illinois Conservation Foundation Raffle and help support ‘kids never pay’ youth programs at the Torstenson Youth conservation Education Center in Pecatonica, IL Raffle tickets are $100 each or three for $250. Raffle prizes – including a grand prize of up to $100,000 – will be presented at a drawing in Sangamon County on November 1, 2013. Upcoming Early Bird prizes will be awarded for tickets drawn in Sangamon County on July 18, and Aug. 15, 2013. The raffle is being conducted in accordance with the Raffles Act. All business operations of the raffle take place exclusively in Sangamon County. Raffle tickets are available online at and by mail at: ICF, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.
through the Reserve America website at

Renew Watercraft Registration by Phone or Online: Watercraft owners in Illinois are reminded that IDNR is no longer mailing watercraft registration renewal notices. Watercraft owners can renew their watercraft registrations by using a touch-tone telephone (1-866-867-3542) or online, with a link on the IDNR website at This convenient service operates 24 hours a day (a convenience fee will be added to the regular registration fee to offset the cost of the transaction). When renewing, watercraft owners should have handy their Illinois registration number and hull identification number (located on the registration card) and pen and paper to record their confirmation number. Forms of payment include VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and E-Check. Upon completion of the transaction, watercraft owners will receive a confirmation number that will authorize the immediate use of their watercraft on Illinois waters.

Water Usage Stamps Available Now: Non-motorized watercraft, canoes, kayaks and paddle boats in Illinois are no longer required to be titled/registered in Illinois, unless the vessels have a motor or sail. They are now required to purchase a 'Water Usage Stamp' for $6.00 per calendar year for the each of the first three vessels, and $3.00 each for any additional vessels. All of the new Water Usage Stamps must be purchased at the same time to receive the discount. Water Usage Stamps are mandatory for all non-powered watercraft. The stamps should be available over the counter from DNR Direct license and permit point of sale vendors by July 1. Use this link to find vendor locations for purchase of the water usage stamp:

Living with Wildlife: Illinois residents with questions about wildlife have a great online resource available from the IDNR and UI Extension. Check out the “Living with Wildlife in Illinois” website at

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

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 Facebook and Twitter icons on the IDNR home page at

Wisconsin State Parks campground electrification project update

The campsite electrification project at Peninsula State Park is progressing.

Peninsula State Park: On June 12, the following campsites at Peninsula State Park wereavailable for reservation. The reservations will be available for dates beginning June 14, 2013. The campsites listed that were electric sites and received an upgrade were available previously for reservations beginning July 1, 2013 and beyond. All previous confirmed advance reservations will be fulfilled on the campsite the reservation was made for.

South Nicolet Bay 
Electric Campsites:
721, 723, 724, 725, 726, 727, 728, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 736, 737, 738, 739, 740, 741, 742, 744, 746, 748, 750, 752, 754, 761, 762, 763, 764, 765, 766, 767, 768, 769, 770, 771, 772, 773, 774, 775, 776, 777, 779, 830, 832, 834, 836, 838

Campsites that were converted to electric campsites
724, 726, 728, 730, 732, 734, 736, 738, 740, 742, 744, 746, 748, 750, 752, 754, 830, 832, 834, 836, 838.

Non-electric Campsites:
829, 831, 833, 835, 837

Tennison Bay 
Electric Campsites:
322, 324, 325, 326, 327, 329, 331, 332, 333, 334, 336, 338, 339, 340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350, 352, 354, 356, 358, 360, 400, 402, 404, 406, 408, 410, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 428, 430, 432, 434, 436, 438, 440,

Non-electric Campsites:
341, 343, 345, 347, 349, 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, 401, 403, 405, 407, 409, 411, 413, 415, 429, 431, 433, 435, 437, 439, 441, 443, 445

Reservations can be made online at the Wisconsin State Park reservation website [exit DNR] or by phone at 888-947-2757.

Michigan's Port Crescent State Park hosts Vintage Camper Show July 25-28

Vintage travel-trailer enthusiasts are bringing the glory days of "trailering" to Port Crescent State Park in Huron County. The romance of the open road is coming to the tip of Michigan's "Thumb." Port Crescent State Park will host its Fifth Annual Vintage Camper Show from Thursday - Sunday, July 25 - 28.

This year’s event will be the largest yet, with close to 85 vintage trailers expected. On Saturday, July 27, the trailers and classic tow vehicles will be open to the public. Visitors can come see campers that have been restored or are in the process of being restored, motorhomes and pop-up trailers, as they take a walk through history. Many classic and iconic designs will be represented with real wood interiors, funky fiberglass exteriors and period furnishings.

The big RVs often seen on Michigan highways have a venerable heritage of trailer travel in the United States, and the Tin Can Tourists are keeping the tradition alive. The original Tin Canners blossomed about 1920, in the early days of auto travel from the north to Florida. The group took its name from the campers’ bring-along tin-can cuisine. Members sometimes fastened empty cans to the front of their Tin Lizzies to announce themselves to kindred spirits.

Members travel with rigs that include brands such as Shasta, Scotty, Airstream, Argosy, Helite, Travco, Newell, Yellowstone, Fan and Teardrop. Some very rare or unusual models will be shown during this year’s open house, including a 1949 American, full of polished wood and Art Deco curves. Forrest Bone, a retired high school teacher who now splits his time between Florida and Michigan, renewed the Tin Can Tourists in 1998 as a rallying group for fans of antique travel trailers. Owners and fans of vintage travel trailers are invited to join the group, which is sponsoring the event at Port Crescent State Park.

Campers participating in this show will open up their vintage trailers for tours on Saturday, July 27 from 12-4 p.m. Other activities planned for this weekend are open to all campers, including a potluck and a dance with music provided by a local D.J.

Port Crescent State Park is located at 1775 Port Austin Road in Port Austin. For more information about this event, the park, accessibility or those needing accommodations to attend this event, contact Park Supervisor Betsy Kish at 989-738-8663 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired), or visit

VIDEO: Starcraft RV's 50th Anniversary

Enjoy this 3:50 video that celebrates the 50th anniversary of Starcraft RV.

Here's what Starcraft RV had to say about its video:
For 50 years, Starcraft Camping has remained one of the most dependable brands in the camping industry. The family-oriented approach that was instilled with the very first camper is still our way of building each and every product today. Starcraft camping is camping, pure and simple.

'America’s Favorite Park' campaign could net state parks $100,000 recreation grant

Hoffmaster State Park (MI)
Coca-Cola has launched its fourth annual promotion of parks nationwide through the “America’s Favorite Park” social networking contest.

Nearly all of us could be more active. Coca-Cola is helping to make this a little easier and a lot more fun, with a friendly competition amongst parks and an opportunity to earn up to a $100,000 grant for recreation improvements.

“Michigan State Parks developed the Fresh Air Fit series to get people outside and into parks for their daily workouts this summer,” said Maia Stephens, recreation programmer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “The format of the grant competition supports that campaign by encouraging people to get outside, be active and, hopefully, to vote often for their favorite state park.”

Voting can be done in three ways:
  • Vote once a day at
  • Check in at a park using Foursquare, a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, and get up to 5 votes every day.
    Log more than 20 minutes of physical activity through the MapMyFitness app for mobile devices, and get up to 10 votes every day. 

The park with the most votes will win a $100,000 recreation grant from Coca-Cola and the title of "America's Favorite Park." Second- and third-place parks will win $50,000 and $25,000 grants, respectively. Another $15,000 grant will be awarded at random to a lucky park that comes in 4th to 25th on the leader board.

The Department of Natural Resources will be promoting the contest on Facebook and encourages fans to be active, vote often, and share with friends and family. Learn more about this campaign and the Fresh Air Fit program at

U.S. Representatives from Indiana, Florida start RV Caucus

Photo courtesy of RVIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross (FL-15) and Jackie Walorski (IN-02) have formed the Congressional Recreational Vehicle (RV) Caucus. The Congressional RV Caucus was created to educate members of Congress on issues that impact the RV industry and highlight the importance of this American tradition for the tourism industry and the economy, according to Ross.

“As a young boy, I traveled the country in the summers with my grandparents in their 1960 Airstream, which I now have and have worked hard to restore to its original beauty. Now as an adult, my wife, Cindy, and I have taken our sons, Travis and Shane, on countless trips by motor home, stopping in each of the 48 continental states,” said Ross. “The RV industry pumps billions of dollars into our economy and encourages families to take advantage of everything our great states have to offer. I’m glad to help start this important caucus that highlights the contributions of the RV industry.”

“In Northern Indiana, Hoosiers are proud to be known as the “RV Capital of the World” as this powerful industry continues to manufacture quality products, create jobs, and enrich American tourism,” said Walorski. “With over 80 percent of North America’s recreational vehicles built in Elkhart and LaGrange Counties, it is critical that this industry remains relevant and continues to produce new products and technologies for recreational vehicles. I am pleased to introduce this caucus alongside Rep. Ross to support the RV industry and ensure its prolonged success for the benefit of American families.”

  • Approximately 8.9 million households across the country own a recreational vehicle (RV).
  • There are more than 12,000 RV-related businesses across the nation, generating a combined annual revenue of more than $37.5 billion.
  • All members of Congress are welcome to join the Congressional RV Caucus.
  • For a member of Congress to join, please contact Kyle Glenn ( in Rep. Dennis Ross’s office or Ben Falkowski ( in Rep. Jackie Walorski’s office. 

SOURCE: U.S. Representative Dennis A. Ross

VIDEO: RV Height Safety Tips from Mark Polk of RV Education 101

Enjoy this 46-second video from Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on RV height safety tips.

Here's what Mark Polk had to say about his video:
In this RV video tip Mark Polk with RV Education 101 offers some helpful tips on RV heights to help prevent damage to your RV.

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: Gourmet Gone Wild brings conservation to the table

Kati Bentley holds a tray of wild turkey mole that was prepared
by chef Dan Nelson (left) at a recent Gourmet Gone Wild event
in Lansing. Gourmet Gone Wild introduces the concept of
conservation to young, urban foodies interested in
“locavore” eating and sustainable living.
At first glance, it looks like any social mixer. The crowd, mostly in its 20s and 30s, is largely professionally
dressed, chatting, and enjoying food and beverages. But it’s at the serving table that the first clue that this is an unusual event presents itself.

The chafing trays are labeled with dishes that you won’t ordinarily see at happy hour: Tuscan venison meatballs, wild turkey mole’, and cedar-planked steelhead. Welcome to Gourmet Gone Wild, a cooperative program designed to give young urban professionals a taste of the wild side of food. The program is sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Boone and Crocket Club, Eagle Eye Golf and Banquet Center, and The Hal and Jean Glassen Memorial Foundation.

“We’re introducing a whole new generation to natural resources and conservation through the cooking and tasting of wild game and fish,” explained Jordan Burroughs, wildlife outreach specialist at Michigan State University. “They’re young professionals – a niche demographic that we haven’t traditionally reached out to.”

Robert Stump and Lansing Young Professionals board member
Andrea Kerbuski sample some of the wild game dishes at a
Gourmet Gone Wild event in Lansing, designed to familiarize
attendees with fish and wildlife conservation.
Begun two years ago in Lansing, Gourmet Gone Wild is the brainchild of Burroughs and Erin McDonough,
director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. The idea is to expose the whole concept of natural resources – and stewarding those resources – to 21- to 39-year-olds who might have never had the opportunity.

“They’re already holding these networking events,” said Burroughs, as she helped tend the beverage station at a meeting of the Grand River Connection, Lansing’s young professionals association. “We just come to their events.”

Burroughs – a recent convert to hunting herself – said the concept of providing local, healthful, sustainable food parallels what’s going on food-wise in society.

“It’s the locavore thing,” she said. “You know where your food comes from – it’s hormone-free and antibiotics-free, and it’s free-ranging until it’s harvested.

“And it’s gourmet food. There’s nothing wrong with a big pot of chili, but Chef Dan takes it up a notch.”

Chef Dan would be Dan Nelson, the executive chef at Eagle Eye Golf and Banquet Center in East Lansing. He’s been providing the eats since the program began two years ago.

Mary McElgum (center) and other members of a young professionals'
networking group sample Michigan-harvested game and fish
from the buffet at a Gourmet Gone Wild event in Lansing.
An avid sportsman, who “always had a passion for cooking,” Nelson uses game and fish that’s been donated
– some of the wild turkey in the mole’ dish came from birds he and Burroughs harvested this spring – by sportsmen interested in showing non-hunters one of the attractions of a sporting lifestyle.

“Cooking game and fish is more difficult than standard fare,” Nelson said. “The meat isn’t as tender, and there’s not as much fat. So preparation is key. These are lean, healthy animals that use all of their muscles. But the flavors are more intense.”

Nelson, who likes to spice up his meals with wild plants – garlic mustard, morels, ramps, leeks and cattails – says wild game is a lot like fine wine.

“It’s a flavor profile that builds with your palette,” he said. “You make it mild at first, increasingly introducing the natural game flavor.”

About 75 folks were on hand for a recent event in Lansing. Almost all talked about the cuisine positively.

“We recently surveyed our membership, and this was one of their favorite events,” said Brian Gallagher, a Lansing lawyer and vice president of the Grand River Connection. “The food’s excellent – especially the venison.”

Gourmet Gone Wild exposes the idea of conservation to
young, urban residents – who may not have had much exposure
to natural resources, but may be interested in locally harvested
and sustainable food sources – through wild game and fish.
Rachel Zylstra, membership chair of the group, who works in alumni relations at Michigan State University
(MSU), especially liked the venison, though she thought the other items were “very unique.”

Although she’s from a family of fishermen, Zylstra said she had almost no exposure to game.

“I never thought I’d ever eat these types of food,” she said. “It was pretty good.”

A follow-up event – Gourmet Gone Wilder – will be held at MSU's Demmer Center, giving participants a chance to learn about archery. Not many expressed an interest in becoming hunters.

“I’m content with having people share (game) with me,” said Alyssa Wethington, a student assistant at the Michigan Department of Transportation who says she doesn’t eat commercially produced meat. “But I’m not opposed to hunting, I just wouldn’t go out by myself.”

Chef Dan Nelson demonstrates howto
prepare cedar-planked steelhead trout at
a Gourmet Gone Wild event in Lansing.
Nelson's wild game and fish creations
help acquaint young professionals
with natural resources stewardship.
Converting these folks to hunting is not necessarily the aim of the program.

“We’re introducing people to fish and wildlife conservation through food,” said Vanessa Thurgood, who coordinates the program. “It’s really cool and different.”

Nelson said he’d love to convert Grand River Connection members to become sportsmen, but he’s not
sweating it.

“If we can get even 10 percent to be interested, we’ll have accomplished a lot,” he said. “We’ll never get this diverse of a crowd at a sportsmen’s club event."

And that’s the point of Gourmet Gone Wild – to introduce those who don’t have mentors to the ideas of conservation and natural resources management. They don’t have to hunt and fish to appreciate why others do.

To learn more, visit

Mackinaw City Vacation: Part IV - Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park

This is the fourth and final post from our Mackinaw City vacation.

The first post was a video review of our campground, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping.

The second post was a video of our day trip to Mackinac Island.

The third post was a video of our day trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Today's post is a video of our day trip to Historic Mill Creek Adventure Park.

Just a mile down U.S. 23 from our campground, Historic Mill Creek Adventure Park was a nice side trip.

For years, the state park was nothing more than a nifty little take on the lumber mill that once occupied the property 200 years ago. According to the park's brochure, "forgotten in the late 1800s, Mill Creek was rediscovered in 1972 and reconstructed after extensive archaeological work. A working 18th-century water-powered sawmill chews through timber while the millwright describes the impact this industrial innovation had on the region."

How much of an impact? We were told that a laborer with his bare hands and an axe could cut 10 boards of lumber from trees per day and be paid 10 cents for his efforts. The mill was able to produce 100 boards per day. That lumber supplied the construction of Fort Mackinac and the dozen or so other buildings - all key to the fur trade. And that fur trade was extremely profitable. Whereas the axeman was making 10 cents per day, John Jacob Astor in one year made $3 million of the fur trade industry. This is in the late 1800s, folks.

The other part of the park was the Adventure Course, featuring a five-story Treetop Discovery Climbing Wall, the 50-foot high Forest Canopy Bridge and the 425-foot long Eagle’s Flight Zip Line. No words can do this justice; you'll just have to watch the video.

Mackinaw City Vacation: Part III - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Miner's Castle
We went camping in Mackinaw City over the week of the Fourth of July. This is the third of four posts about
our trip.

The first post was a review, with video, of our campground, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping.

The second post was another video, this one of our day trip to Mackinac Island.

For this post I've put together a video of our day trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Lovers' Leap
I have lived in Michigan my entire life - I even lived in the Keweenaw Peninsula at one time - and had never before seen Pictured Rocks. I never knew what I
was missing, but I sure do now!

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most beautiful sights of nature you'll ever see. For 40 miles of Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks is a stunning display of sandstone cliffs with fascinating, sometimes eerie, formations. And with names like Battleship Row, Big Portal, Indianhead, Miner's Castle and Chapel Rock, some of these formations have become legendary.
Chapel Rock

Along the face of these cliffs, various minerals have painted the rocks with a natural hue of reds, auburns, coppers, browns, khakis and whites. There's even some greens and purples thrown in every now and then.

It was three-hour boat tour (where's Gilligan?), but the scenery made the time go quickly.

Enough of me gabbing. Watch the video and see for yourself.

(By the way: In the video I mistakenly identify Lovers' Leap as Little Portal.)