In January 2005, The Nature Conservancy and several partners announced the “Big U.P. Deal” that preserved roughly 423 square miles of forest land for forestry, recreation and conservation through a unique public-private partnership. Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Rick Snyder and other dignitaries, including the conservancy’s Michigan state director, Helen Taylor, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh, marked the 10-year anniversary of the historic land deal with a ceremony at the Mouth of the Two Hearted River State Forest Campground. “This monumental land deal provided key environmental protection for landmarks across the Upper Peninsula, from the Porcupine Mountains in the west to Tahquamenon Falls and the Two Hearted River in the east,” Snyder said. “Michigan has set a model for responsible land management that supports healthier forests and rivers while creating more jobs and improved recreation opportunities.” Under the $57.9 million Northern Great Lakes Forest Project – nicknamed the “Big U.P. Deal” – the conservancy facilitated the DNR purchase of several conservation easements over a period of years on about 248,000 acres located throughout eight counties in the Upper Peninsula. In addition, the deal included the purchase of 23,338 acres in the Two Hearted River watershed in northern Luce County, helping to enhance an existing conservancy nature preserve. At the time the deal was announced, Snyder was serving as a member of The Nature Conservancy Michigan Board of Trustees, a position he held from 2004-2009. Managing the conservation easements under a “working lands” approach provides several benefits to a range of interests in the region. Among them, the conservancy said the easements: Keep the lands open to the public for recreation, including fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and other pursuits. Protect thousands of timber and tourism jobs. Keep the lands in private ownership and on the tax rolls, generating important revenue for local communities. Help protect some of Michigan’s most treasured landscapes. Keep valuable and environmentally sensitive forest lands habitat from fragmentation. Limit development, which keeps forest lands from being converted to non-forest uses. The easements and lands were purchased from The Forestland Group, LLC, a North Carolina timberlands investment firm, which outbid the state and bought 390,000 acres at auction in 2002 from the Kamehameha Schools Trust of Hawaii. Much of that land had been […]
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources last week sent several fisheries staff to assist the Illinois DNR with an ongoing Asian carp removal project. The goal of the project is to respond to the leading edge and reduce population levels of Asian carp threatening the Great Lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System. While there, Michigan staff assisted the Illinois DNR and commercial anglers in capturing and removing bighead and silver carp from reaches of the Illinois River south of Chicago. Although Asian carp (bighead or silver) are not present in any Michigan waters, this training provided critical knowledge to the Michigan DNR for potential future response efforts. Methods used during the course of this training exercise included gillnetting, seining and electrofishing. All fish caught and removed were provided to a processor to make fertilizer. Eleven Michigan DNR staff members spent multiple days last week on the project. Another fisheries team conducted similar work in 2014. The DNR’s participation in this effort highlights its continued collaboration and dedication to addressing Asian carp issues in Michigan. In addition to this recent training exercise, the DNR also has coordinated and participated in other field efforts to increase preparedness and implement portions of the state’s Asian Carp Management Plan. These include a field exercise on the St. Joseph River in the fall of 2013 and a multi-jurisdictional field exercise, co-led with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, on Lake Erie in the fall of 2014. “Opportunities like the one we participated in last week are critical to maintaining regional collaboration and helping to reduce the Asian carp population that’s currently threatening the Great Lakes,” said DNR Senior Water Policy Advisor Tammy Newcomb. “The efforts provide valuable opportunities to help us address any Asian carp issues that threaten our state’s waters while we work toward additional preventative solutions in Illinois.” For more information on Asian carp, visit michigan.gov/asiancarp.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed another new state-record fish, this time a quillback carpsucker. This marks the fourth state-record fish caught in 2015. The state record for quillback carpsucker was broken by a fish caught by Garrett Reid of Nashville, Michigan, on Hardy Dam Pond in Newaygo County Saturday, June 20, at 10 p.m. Reid was bowfishing. The fish weighed 8.52 pounds and measured 24 inches. The record was verified by Todd Grischke, a DNR fisheries biologist in Lansing. The previous state-record quillback carpsucker was caught by Benjamin Frey, also on Hardy Dam Pond, Aug. 29, 2014. That fish weighed 8.25 pounds and measured 22.62 inches. State records are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist. To see a current list of Michigan’s state-record fish, visit michigan.gov/fishing.
This time of year, as snakes are out and about in the great outdoors, the Department of Natural Resources gets many questions about Michigan’s snakes. Michigan is home to 18 different species of snakes, 17 of which are harmless to humans. There are two that are very similar and often cause a stir when people encounter them. Eastern hognose snakes, when threatened, puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (This has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper.”) If this act is unsuccessful in deterring predators, the snakes will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous snake species found in Michigan, is quite rare and protected as a species of special concern due to declining populations from habitat loss. As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake does have a segmented rattle on its tail. It should not be confused with the other harmless species of snake in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but also will buzz their tails if approached or handled. Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes are shy creatures that avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as “swamp rattlers,” they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice. When encountered, if the snake doesn’t feel threatened, it will let people pass without revealing its location. If humans do get too close, a rattlesnake will generally warn of its presence by rattling its tail while people are still several feet away. If given room, the snake will slither away into nearby brush. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan (fewer than one per year), can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek medical attention immediately. To learn more about the massasauga and for more snake safety tips, visit http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/emr/index.cfm. Those who encounter a snake of any kind should leave it alone and should not try to handle or harass the snake – this is primarily how snake bites happen. A snake can only strike roughly one-third of its body length, so it is physically impossible for people to get […]
DNR wants to relocate animal The Rockford Police Department urges residents not to approach a bear that has been spotted on the grounds of Blythefield Golf Course at Northland Drive and West River Drive. According to a report, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and DNR are checking the area after the confirmed sighting of a black bear. It was last seen at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17. The police ask residents to call 911 if they see the bear. Do not approach the bear. The DNR wants to relocate the bear to a safer location.