Parks

Roundup: Opening Day of Michigan deer hunting season


Buck on the run by oakwood

Opening day of deer season probably ranks pretty high in the list of Michigan holidays. The Michigan DNR has all the details on deer hunting in Michigan, including a reminder that much public land is open to hunting – be aware!

Michigan saw just 650,000 hunters last season, but that number is expected to climb to about 700,000 for the November 15-30 firearm deer season. As in 2011, some of these will be 10 and 11 year-olds due to Michigan’s Hunter Heritage Act. The Michigan DNR is your best source for information and their MI-Hunt program allows you to locate public lands open to hunting.  There’s also a lot more info from the White-tail Deer Portal from the DNR and MSU.

The Battle Creek Enquirer says that while “up north” was the place to be in years past, that trend has slowly changed to the point where southern Michigan is seen to offer the best hunting and has produced the highest number of deer killed. They also say that:

This year, however, there is a wild card: Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.

EHD is an often-fatal disease transmitted to deer by midges. Late this summer, an EHD outbreak was confirmed in Ionia County. It eventually spread throughout most of southern Michigan. In late October, the disease had been confirmed in 30 counties and accounted for a minimum of 12,000 dead deer – a number that accounts for only those deer reported to the DNR. The actual number of deer lost is anyone’s guess.

The DNR is asking for your help in reporting dead deer from EHD. One bright spot is that EHD does not affect humans, so edibility of the venison is not impacted by this disease.

An excellent, in-depth report from Bridge Magazine last year titled Deer have Michigan on the run is still relevant. It explains that:

The number of hunters in Michigan has been shrinking since the 1960s, according to state data. Hunting license sales have decreased 15 percent over the past 15 years, from 934,430 in 1995 to 786,880 last year.

The ranks of hunters are shrinking nationwide. But the effects of that trend are especially prevalent in Michigan, where deer dominate vast areas of the landscape, hunters are the primary method for keeping the herd in check and revenue from the sale of hunting licenses funds many of the state’s wildlife management programs.

Fewer hunters mean: Less money for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to manage wildlife; less money to maintain forests, marshes and other areas where birds and mammals reside; less money for conservation officers who keep poachers in check; and less money for small businesses that count hunters among their best customers.

It also means more deer – read on to learn about the impacts of our 1.7 million deer.

In another great article from last year, AnnArbor.com noted that Opening Day is Michigan’s other Black Friday, as deer hunters spend an average of $800 each, making deer hunting a half a billion dollar industry in Michigan. The Freep adds a feature on hunting gear that’s made in Michigan. If you are gearing up, be sure to look in on our Sporting Goods section.

Happy hunting!

  • shipwreck propeller
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    Invasive species (and some divers) threaten Michigan’s shipwrecks

Invasive species (and some divers) threaten Michigan’s shipwrecks

Jon Gaskell of the Capital News Service had an interesting feature about how invasive species are threatening Michigan shipwrecks.

Valerie Van Heest, director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates in Holland, said those conditions make Michigan one of the best states for underwater exploration.

“A new shipwreck discovery that is shared with the public can generate an immediate tourist draw to the region,” Van Heest said. “These tourists infuse dollars in food, gas, lodging and land-based attractions.

“Consider the 1996 discovery of the wreck of the Three Brothers at South Manitou Island. That discovery brought reportedly over 1,200 people to the island that summer alone, specifically to dive or snorkel the shallow wreck,” Van Heest said

…But cultural and economic resources like these wrecks are deteriorating, according to the DEQ. The department blames human intervention and invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels.

Read on for more. The  you can find much more about Michigan shipwrecks on Absolute Michigan. For some contrast between what the here’s a wreck near South Haven encrusted with mussels and the much more pristine wreck of the Bermuda near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore below.

Petoskey Stone Festival on May 26 celebrates Michigan’s State Stone!

Petoskey Stone Polish Project by Odalaigh
Petoskey Stone Polish Project by Odalaigh

The 7th annual Antrim County  Petoskey Stone Festival takes place on May 28, 2011 in Barnes Park in Eastport. Admission to the festival will be FREE to one and all!

About Petoskey Stones

Petoskey stones are composed of fossilized skeletons of colony corals which lived their lifespan in the warm sea waters that at one time covered all of what is now the beautiful state of Michigan during ancient Devonian time, some 350 million years ago. Outcrops of these rocks are restricted to the Little Traverse Bay area near Petoskey, Michigan. Glaciers that covered Michigan about two million years ago plucked Petoskey stones as well as many other kinds of rocks and distributed them over Michigan and surrounding areas. Most of the Petoskey stones found along beaches and in gravels have already been rounded and smoothed by glacial and water action. Many of these are suitable for hand polishing and will often take a high polish. Occasionally a Petoskey stone will be found in “rough” form that has not been subjected to smoothing by glacial or wave action. The sample shown above is a fine example of a “rough” Petoskey. It was found in the limestone quarry at Charlevoix. In 1965, it was named the state stone of Michigan.

Petoskey Stone Resources from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Petoskey Stone – Some history, lore and facts about the “Petoskey Stone” (very thorough document)

At the Quarry, The Petoskey Stone Tells Its Story

The Daily Michigan: Print from Neil Weaver Photography


Today on The Daily Michigan we have a 12×18 inch fine art print from Neil Weaver Photography. printed on professional luster paper, mounted with an arctic white mat, hand-signed and put in a protective clear plastic sleeve

The winner may choose from any photo from his website or his Facebook page. There are hundreds to choose from – definitely have a look! Neil is a Sault Ste. Marie native who travels throughout Michigan with his camera to showcase our state’s natural beauty.

Click here to sign up

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes Tours
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    The Daily Michigan: A private tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes with SBD Tours

The Daily Michigan: A private tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes with SBD Tours

Today on The Daily Michigan we have guided private explorer tour for up to six people through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with SBD Tours!

The emphasis is on the exploring as you check out sites like Pierce Stocking Drive & Glen Haven, take a hike, visit a ghost town or old farm visit and even enjoy a wine tasting!

Through hikes and tours, SBD Tours helps visitors connect with the natural beauty of northern Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes area as they learn about our links to the past and help preserve this wonderful resource! Your tour guide is a Certified Interpretive Guide, a Master Gardener and a Master Naturalist. She has been in this area for nearly twenty years and has a great appreciation for this scenic part of northern Michigan. Visit their website for more information about the tours!

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

Winter on Sturgeon Bay

Here’s a gorgeous time-lapse exploration of winter on Sturgeon Bay near Cross Village Michigan. Jay Burlage of Milapse writes that it’s a great place to get away from it all and enjoy a cold snowy place for a bit. The music track is ‘Farlem’ by Galdson, and here’s hoping this will give you a little dose of wintry pleasure!

As with all his videos, clicking for the full-screen HD view is recommended!

Invasive Species in the National Parks

Goby by swatzo
Goby by swatzo

Last year the National Park Service produced a series of short documentaries exploring invasive species in the Great Lakes. The series was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative showing how invaders are changing the ecosystems in national parks and what’s being done to stop them.

All four of them are available through the Great Lakes Echo. Part 1: Aquatic Invasives is below and it explores how zebra mussel, quagga mussel, round goby and other invasive species are creating havoc in Lake Michigan, causing the food web to tilt out of balance. People can help, clean drain and dry all boating and fishing gear to stop aquatic hitch hikers. here’s Part 2: Invasive Plants in our Parks, Part 3: Spotted Knapweed, and Part 4: Emerald Ash Borer!

The Lake in Winter: an excerpt from The Windward Shore

Works by Michigan author Jerry Dennis include The Living Great Lakes, Winter Walks (with wood engravings by Glenn Wolff and design and letterpress by Chad Pastotnik of Deep Woods Press), A Place on the Water, It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes, Canoeing Michigan Rivers and more. Jerry has kindly allowed us to run this excerpt from his latest work, The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes. It’s published by the University of Michigan Press and includes wood engravings by Glenn Wolff. Speaking of Glenn, you can read a feature about The Windward Shore by F. Josephine Arrowood in the Glen Arbor Sun that includes great interview with him. Enjoy…

The Lake in Winter
by Jerry Dennis

(January, Cathead Point, near the tip of Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula)

It changes every day, every hour. It is a thousand lakes, changing faces with every shift in wind and light – flurried by offshore wind, whitecapped in squalls, colored flannel gray or pearl-white or stormy black beneath the winter clouds, a dozen blues when the sky is blue.

There’s a contemporary Japanese poet who writes a diary on a slab of stone instead of paper, with water instead of ink. He writes a word, and a moment later it evaporates. This, he suggests, is the true record of a life.

We go to the shore in search of elemental things. Probably it is just coincidence that the elemental things we find there – sand, sun, wind, and waves – correspond exactly to the four elements of the ancient Greeks and Hindus: earth, fire, air, and water. More to the point is that we need elemental things to help us restore our primitive senses to working condition. We need periodically to look, listen, scent, taste, and feel our way through the world, if only for the relief of not having to think our way through. Everyone understands that eliminating superfluities can help us discover what is important in our lives.

That’s not an easy task. Time coats us in natural increase, accruing layers as if we were snowballs rolling down a hill. Jobs, families, friends, houses, cars, dogs, our health – just maintaining it all is full-time work. Add the bulging files of information, the gunnysacks of mistakes and the duffels of misjudgments and the barrow-loads of memories, habits, regrets, opinions, prejudices, principles, laws, and codes collected in a lifetime and you can see the problem. We carry as much as we can, and the rest we stack around us until all our routes to the outside are blocked. Even when we find our way out we’re wearing too many layers of tuxedoes and zoot suits and cardigans, Icelandic woolens, parkas, longjohns, thermal socks, etc. We’re strong but we grow weary of lugging that Collyer-brothers’ accumulation everywhere we go. We bend beneath the load, our backs about to break, groaning as we push our heaped-up grocery carts through the streets.

It’s too much. Now and then we need to strip down to the naked flame at our core. Most of what we carry is baggage anyway – just adornment and vanity, ballast and deadweight. It’s the crap the pioneers threw out along the Oregon Trail.


After lunch I walked to the crest of the dune and looked out at the lake. Even from that small elevation, maybe fifty feet, the water’s clarity was startling. From a boat, on a day like this, with the sun overhead, you can lean over the side and see boulders on the bottom thirty feet down. The pale shallows stepped into blue depths. The offshore sandbars were there, a hundred yards apart, each deeper than the one before, with bands of increasingly darker blue between them. Beyond the last bar a steep drop-off into very deep water turned the lake midnight blue.

Lake Michigan. My lake, I often think, because I grew up near it and because many in my family settled along its shores. So much water, in a body so large they say that the Netherlands could fit inside, with enough room left over for several New England states. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes in volume, and third, after Superior and Huron, in surface area. It is the only one of the five to be contained entirely within the United States.

Most of the 1,640 miles of shore is sandy. Some of that shore, especially around the southern end, through Indiana and Illinois, is lined with industry. Around the top of the lake in Wisconsin and Michigan are scattered limestone bluffs and rocky strands. But most of the rest is blond sand beaches that are among the loveliest in North America. Wind, waves, and ice have shoved that sand into the most extensive network of freshwater dunes on the planet. They reach their apogee about thirty miles south of Cathead Point at Sleeping Bear Dunes, the crowning feature of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but they extend nearly unbroken for 300 miles along the eastern and southern shores of the lake, from northern Michigan nearly to Chicago. A few scattered dunes are found also along the Wisconsin shore and at the top of the lake, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but they lack the dimensions of those that face the prevailing winds.

A friend who lives part of every year in the West once told me that Lake Michigan plays the same role in the Midwest that the mountains do in Montana. That’s true for all five lakes. Like the Rockies, you can see them from miles away, forming a backdrop that is also a felt presence, always there, looming in our lives. They are depositories of geological and historical power that shape the land and the culture to themselves. We orient to them and are drawn to them and take for granted that their presence and the weather they create will affect our travels and alter our daily plans.

The lakes have always been the most prominent shaper of the character or “spirit” of the Great Lakes region. The stronger the spirit of a place, the farther it resonates beyond its borders. Alaska, Texas, Vermont, and Maine all have it in abundance. So do large geographical regions such as Appalachia, the Canadian Maritimes, and the Cajun country of Louisiana. A mythological portrait of a place needs to be only approximately accurate to give outsiders an idea of what it is like, or enough of an idea, at least, to inspire them to take some interest in it. That might explain in part why people who have never visited the Everglades or the Arctic Wildlife Refuge are willing to write letters to congressmen and donate money to protect them.

The Great Lakes have not had that advantage. Their mythology is not clearly defined. It was once very clear, a living mythology, inhabited by people, wolf, moose, and bear, but the stories that passed around campfires for thousands of years were drowned out by European invaders wielding their own stories of Jesuit martyrs, French voyageurs, Paul Bunyans of the logging camps, mariners of the inland seas, and up-by-the-bootstraps giants of industry. Most of those stories have now, in turn, lost their power and have not been replaced. Enduring mythologies tend to accrue to dominate features of a landscape. Louisiana has swamps; New England, hardscrabble hills; Montana, big sky. But the Great Lakes are too varied. No representative image fits. The water and dunes and rocks and cities on the shore are lost in a haze of homogeneity. Surely that is why those who have never stood beside the big lakes find it so difficult to imagine them.

Excerpted from The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, by Jerry Dennis. Used with permission of the author and The University of Michigan Press. Visit Jerry’s website at www.jerrydennis.net. Here’s a cool trailer for the book that Jerry’s son videographer Aaron Dennis made that you will enjoy as well!

DNR Uncut: Michigan State Parks Capture Top National Award

Here’s a “guest” post from the Michigan DNR. We say “guest” in that we copied and pasted it from their website. Great parks, great news. 

Collectively Falling - Bond Falls by Aaron C. Jors
Collectively Falling – Bond Falls by Aaron C. Jors

The Department of Natural Resources announced today that Michigan state parks and recreation areas have won the 2011 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Gold Medal for the top state park system in the nation. The DNR was notified today by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and NRPA.

Michigan was named one of four finalists in May, and beat North Carolina, Florida and Missouri for the top honor.

“This award is a credit to the people of Michigan,” said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who recently appointed a blue-ribbon panel to guide the parks system into the future. “For more than 90 years, Michiganders have realized that these unique areas are an integral part of the cultural enhancement, economic enrichment and overall quality of life that we value. Our parks are what we make of them and the people of this state clearly prize these treasures. I commend the DNR for its outstanding stewardship of these resources and look forward to working with all stakeholders so that we have a parks system that serves our state and its visitors for generations to come.”

The Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials.

“We are very proud to receive this award, and I want to recognize the employees of the Parks and Recreation Division who have worked hard to make sure our 99 state parks and recreation areas remain excellent places for our citizens and visitors to experience Michigan’s abundant and amazing natural resources,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “This is the result of teamwork, talent and vision that is aimed at protecting our special places, and also making sure that visitors have an enjoyable, high quality experience.”

In its winning application, the DNR focused on innovation, such as the Recreation Passport, which is the new funding model for state parks and outdoor recreation in Michigan. The $10 optional fee that Michigan residents can pay when renewing their vehicle registration at the Secretary of State gives them annual access to all Michigan state parks and boating access sites and also supports state forest recreation programs. A portion of the funding also supports a grant program for local parks.

“This achievement is indicative of the tremendous staff who works in the Parks and Recreation Division, who strive for excellent customer service every day to provide a positive experience for our customers,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson.

Michigan is home to 99 state parks and recreation areas, offering visitors more than 13,000 campsites, trails, access to inland lakes, rivers and the Great Lakes.

For more information on state parks in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/stateparks.

And for even more, check out the Absolute Michigan Parks section!

Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures

Tannery Falls by trumansnare
Tannery Falls by trumansnare

One of the regular guests on the Michigan in Pictures photo blog are waterfalls. Go Waterfalling is the go-to site for Michigan waterfall information, and they say that Michigan has over 200 named waterfalls.

The Michigan waterfalls category on Michigan in Pictures has over 60 posts from the big ones like Spray Falls, Bond Falls and Tahquamenon Falls to small and less well-known cascades like Gabbro Falls, Rock River Falls, Black River Falls and one that has (in my opinion) the coolest story associated with it, O Kun De Kun Falls. There’s also a writeup (today) of this waterfall, Tannery Falls.

Speaking of waterfalls, here’s a cool little video of some waterfalls around Marquette that you might enjoy…