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Hunters have killed six wolves during the first three days of Michigan’s controversial wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Unseasonably warm weather has played a part in the hunt so far.

Debbie Munson-Badini is a spokeswoman with the Department of Natural Resources.    She says snow in the forecast is good news for most hunters in the Upper Peninsula.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

People planning to take part in Michigan’s historic wolf hunt this year are likely to come home empty-handed.

State wildlife officials say they designed the hunt expecting only around 4% of hunters to kill a wolf.

“If we had any other game species, or deer hunting, or rabbit hunting, or squirrel hunting where you’d have 4% success rates, the hunters would be quite upset with us,” said Brian Roell, a wildlife biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“So I think some folks are probably overestimating their ability to harvest a wolf.”

State of Michigan

State wildlife officials continue to prepare for this fall’s controversial wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

The hunt is set to begin in three zones in the U.P. in mid-November.

Hunters will try to kill 43 wolves during the hunt. There are fewer than 700 adult wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

Adam Bump is with the Department of Natural Resources. He says they are still working on the logistics for the hunt, including putting hunting licenses up for sale at the end of September.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Opponents of Michigan’s planned wolf hunt are training petition circulators this weekend for the effort to put a second referendum on the ballot.

A big part of the training will be to answer the question “Didn’t we already do this?”

The answer is yes….and no.

Last winter, wolf hunting opponents collected enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot and sidetrack plans for a wolf hunt this fall. But state lawmakers passed a new law this Spring and put the hunt back on track.

Democrats in the state House have introduced a package of bills that would add more state regulations to the process of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking.’ We spoke to a co-sponsor of the legislation on today's show.

And, as the use of meth makes headlines across the state, we talked to one woman about her recovery and what she's doing for other addicts.

And, it’s going to be a hot week for Michiganders. We took a look at what health concerns are related to the increased temperatures.

Also, we spoke with Gary Whelan of the State Department of Natural Resources about what is being done to keep the Great Lakes stocked with fish.

First on the show, the debate over expanding Medicaid in Michigan continues.

Governor Snyder is still pushing for the state Senate to vote on the legislation. It would expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income adults in the state. The state House has already approved it.

Over the weekend, Mark Schauer waded into the debate.

Schauer – a Democrat – is running for Governor in 2014. He said on Saturday that he does not understand why Governor Snyder is not calling the Legislature into a special session.

Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio’s “It’s Just Politics” team, joined us today to answer Mark Shauer’s question.

Lilly the deer's Facebook page

State wildlife officials have agreed to let a Genesee County family keep its pet deer.

Lilly the deer was born shortly after her mother was struck and killed in an auto accident.   

A family took the animal in and for the past five years has raised it as a pet.  Lilly has the run of the house and the fenced-in yard.

But it’s against the law in Michigan to keep a deer as a pet. After receiving a complaint, the Department of Natural Resources tried to remove Lilly from the home.

USDA Forest Service

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is stepping up salvaging of trees that are dying from infestations of the emerald ash borer and beech bark disease.

USFS

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The State Department of Natural Resources has been in the planning process of this idea to create what it calls Biodiversity Stewardship Areas.

These areas would include both state and private land.

All the stakeholders were on board in the early planning process - hunting groups, environmentalists - most everyone - until someone became alarmed because the plan could have potentially stopped human access to some areas.

Well, if you even hint that hunters or timber companies can’t have access, you’ve got a problem.

State Senator Tom Casperson (R- Escanaba) has introduced a bill that would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from setting aside an area of land specifically for the purpose of maintaining biological diversity.

In part it reads:

THE DEPARTMENT, DIRECTOR, OR COMMISSION SHALL NOT PROMULGATE OR ENFORCE A RULE OR ISSUE OR ENFORCE AN ORDER UNDER THIS ACT THAT DESIGNATES OR CLASSIFIES AN AREA OF LAND SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING OR MAINTAINING BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY...

According to Casperson, the MDNR should request approval for each proposal from the State Legislature.

“It’s not that they can’t do it, but it needs oversight,” Casperson said in an interview with Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham.

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

In a press release today, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources says Joseph Seeberger has both a state record and now a world record-sized Great Lakes muskellunge.

The International Committee of the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program (MDMWRP) recognized Seeberger’s catch as the biggest ever.  MDMWRP is a committee of muskellunge scientists, industry leaders, anglers and outdoor media personalities that formed in 2006.

Prior to Seeberger's submission, there had not been a MDMWRP world-record entry verified.

Michigan DNR Wants Teenagers

Dec 27, 2012
http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153--167532--,00.html

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Youth Advisory Council needs your kids' opinions.

The council is seeking applications from teenagers (14-18) to help make the outdoors fun and interesting.

Organizers say they want input from all over the state and plan to even explore the use of mobile applications to learn what draws young people to enjoy the outdoors.

Steve Losher lives in Barry county, and he's worried. So worried, he and the rest of the citizens in the non-profit group called the Michigan Land Air Water Defense are suing the state. 

They're upset about what they believe could happen once the Department of Natural Resources auctions off the mineral rights to gaming areas in Barry and Allagen counties. It's a totally typical auction - the DNR does this kind of thing twice a year since about 1920. 

A Detroit-based group says it has developed a model to refurbish Detroit’s Belle Isle without turning it into a state park.

The group says a Belle Isle Park Authority could both run the island, and provide a mechanism for making needed investments.

Tom Barrow, a former Detroit mayoral candidate and a spokesman, said the plan includes a governing structure, entry fees, and other revenue sources.  

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering grants to help maintain or remove aging dams.

The $2.3 million program will provide funding and technical assistance to state agencies, local governments, nonprofits and other applicants.

DNR Director Keith Creagh says more than 90 percent of Michigan's dams will reach or exceed the lifespan for which they were designed by 2020. Most were built decades ago for power generation, transporting logs, recreation or other purposes.

User: David Defoe / flickr

Every Saturday Rina Miller talks with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about some of the biggest stories in the week's news.

Here’s a little episode in Michigan history that you probably don’t know, and about which we have reason to be ashamed.

If you could take a time machine back to Petoskey in the spring 1878, you would have seen a stunning sight. An immense flock of passenger pigeons descended from the skies to form the world’s largest recorded wild pigeon roost.

Michigan.gov

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has the authority to set aside land to make sure biodiversity is preserved. Basically, that means the DNR can designate an area to protect the variety of plants and animals that live in that place.

But new legislation seeks to greatly limit that authority.

Senate bill 1276 would prohibit the DNR from setting aside an area of land specifically for the purpose of maintaining biological diversity.  The DNR could not make or enforce a rule to do that.

Senator Tom Casperson is one of the bill’s sponsors. He says the DNR has too much power to set aside land for the purpose of conservation.

"They need to have authority but when it comes to the direction where we’re going as a state with our public lands, I think there needs to be some checks and balances."

user will_cyclist / Flickr

Promoting winter sports may be a way to attract more tourists to Michigan, and more tourists mean more money. 

“Snow in Michigan is really white gold,” said Mary Dettloff with the Department of Natural Resources.

Snowmobiling is already a huge industry for the state. It attracts people from around the country, and Dettloff says it has an economic impact of more than $1 billion.

Michigan currently has 99 state parks and recreation areas where people can experience the great outdoors and do things like cross-country ski, snow-shoe, and hike. 

State parks also host special workshops and classes. One of the most popular programs is a “make-your-own-snowshoe” workshop. Some state parks also have dog-sled demonstrations and lantern-lit, nighttime skiing and hiking. (For the truly brave there’s a public luge in Muskegon State Park.)

Dettloff said the state has the potential to become a destination for winter sports but she said the state needs to do a better job promoting itself to tourists.

There’s a shakeup in managing Michigan’s forests.

A new advisory council is heavily weighted with voices from the timber industry, and there will be more emphasis on developing forest products to boost the state’s economy.

Governor Rick Snyder says there’s a lot of potential to use natural resources to bring in more revenue.

The head of the Department of Natural Resources has just appointed a new ten member forest advisory council. Eight of the ten members are connected to the timber industry.

The new council will focus on developing logging and lumber, pulp and paper, and biofuels. An existing forest management advisory group includes other interests such as wildlife, recreation and conservation as well as logging.

Marvin Roberson with the Sierra Club says those other voices largely will be gone from the new council.

“I think this is going to mean a lack of management for natural conservation values and an increase in management for timber-only values,” said Roberson.

The DNR also is reorganizing its forestry division so that come January it will no longer deal with oil, gas and minerals or recreation on state forestland.

-Bob Allen for The Environment Report

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The new system to help fund Michigan state parks was a success in its first year.

Before the "Recreation Passport" system was put in place, park visitors had to buy annual or daily window stickers.

Now, people can get access to the parks by paying an extra $10 when registering their motor vehicle at the Michigan Secretary of State (window stickers and daily passes are still an option if you didn't pay extra at the Secretary of State).

The $10 annual fee is a lot less than the $24 people used to pay for an annual window sticker, but because more people participated, more money was raised.

From the MDNR:

In 2011, the program's first year, the DNR set a goal of 24.3 percent participation by Michigan motorists. Final tallies for the first year show that the goal was met and exceeded, with 24.7 percent of Michigan motorists checking "Yes" to support the Recreation Passport when renewing their motor vehicle registration. In total, the revenue generated by the sale of the Recreation Passport was $18,816,500.

Those who paid extra for access to Michigan's state parks have a tiny "P" printed on their license plate renewal sticker (the rectangular sticker on the upper-right part of the Michigan license plate).

Michigan DNR spokesperson Mary Dettloff says park rangers have gotten really good at spotting that tiny "P" from a distance.

For 2011, that little "P" signifies $6 million in extra revenue for the park system.

When lawmakers set up the new program, they anticipated the extra revenue. The $6 million will be be broken up according to a formula in the law:

  • State Parks - Capital Outlay (50 percent): $3,043,250
  • State Parks - Maintenance (30 percent): $1,825,950
  • Local Park Grants (10 percent): $608,650
  • State Forest Recreation (7 percent): $426,055
  • Cultural/Historical Facilities in State Parks (2.75 percent): $167,379
  • Marketing (0.25 percent): $15,216


The MDNR recently announced the recipients for local park grants. The local grants range from a minimum of $7,500 to a maximum of $30,000. MDNR officials say if revenues increase with the new "Recreation Passport" program, the maximum grant amount will increase as well.

24.7 percent participated in the program this year. Next year's goal is 30 percent.

The crackle of gunfire can be heard today across Michigan as the state’s firearm deer season opens.   

For the first time in three years, hunters in the Lower Peninsula are legally using piles of food to lure deer. Deer baiting was temporarily banned after a Kent County deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in 2008. The ban was lifted earlier this year after no more deer tested positive for the disease.   

Dean Molnar is with the Department of Natural Resources law enforcement division.  He says baiting can be effective if done properly.   

“I think in some particular areas it will be beneficial for folks to be able to see deer and harvest them…especially in areas where (the deer) have minimal habitat," says Molnar.   

Something else new this year, hunters are getting younger. The state is permitting ten and eleven year olds to hunt deer, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. The previous age limit was twelve.

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