Private land finds home in Qualified Forest Program

By DAVID POULSON

Capital News Service

LANSING — A state program that more than tripled the private land managed for forestry in just three years earns unusual praise from both forest products producers and environmentalists.

If there is one thing the two groups agree on, it’s that both of their preferred uses “are better than subdivisions,” said Marvin Roberson, a forest ecologist with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club. “If you got 160 acres and your only choice is to sell to a subdivision because you can’t afford the taxes, this keeps it in forested land.”

The Qualified Forest Program gives tax breaks to landowners who agree to manage their forests under a plan developed by a state-certified forester. The plans help them harvest their land sustainably, but they also can consider how to better provide for wildlife or keep invasive species from overtaking the land.

Industry officials agree it’s been a success.
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DNR steps up chronic wasting monitoring

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING – In an effort to protect Michigan’s deer, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to double the number of core areas monitored for deadly chronic wasting disease.

This expansion would include six new townships in Eaton County and two in Clinton County.

The fatal disease interferes with the digestive abilities of deer, literally causing them to waste away in its later stages, said Drew YoungeDyke, chief information officer for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the state’s largest hunting organization.

The disease can cause deer to become delirious, walking in circles for hours and being unable to even properly drink water, he said. “They become kind of robotic.”
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Coldwater bacteria threatens Great Lakes salmon

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service

LANSING — A bacterial disease that sickens fish whether raised in captivity or in the wild is imperiling popular salmon species in the Great Lakes Basin, a new study shows.

The findings are based on testing lake, brook, brown and rainbow trout and Coho, Atlantic, chinook and steelhead salmon from the Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior watersheds, as well as fish used for breeding at state hatcheries in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.

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Locations of state fish hatcheries and weirs. Credit: Department of Natural Resources

Bacterial coldwater disease “threatens wild and propagated members of the salmon family worldwide” and can cause substantial economic damage, according to the study by scientists at Michigan State University.
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Michigan’s cougar controversy continues

By LIAM TIERNEY

Capital News Service
LANSING — Everybody knows that there aren’t any cougars in Michigan. These big cats were hunted to extinction in the state in the early 1900s and despite 34 recent sightings reported in the Upper Peninsula, it’s safe to say that the cats aren’t back to stay yet.

Right?

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), that’s true.
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Report raises concerns about well-being of forests

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING – The recently released Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2015 forest health report has some forestry experts worried about the state’s future ecological well-being.

“The most concerning thing to me is how many of the diseases and insects are spreading,” said Tara Bal, a forestry expert and research assistant professor at Michigan Technological University’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

Pests such as the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid bug and the spruce budworm, combined with the warming climate, threaten several tree and animal species, some experts warn.
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Some Native American tribes in Michigan battle fish farming proposal

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING — A proposal to farm fish in Michigan’s Great Lakes may violate the rights of some Native American tribes in the state, according to representatives from several of Michigan’s five Native American tribes.

This new method, called net pen aquaculture, raises fish in enclosed areas within the Great Lakes. Separate bills promoting and banning commercial net pen aquaculture were recently debated in the House committees on natural resources and agriculture,

Opponents of commercial net pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes say the method threatens the lakes’ water quality and fish by creating new opportunities for the spread of disease and invasive species.
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Gun sales booming as regulations increase

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING – Statewide some retailers see a substantial spike in sales of guns and ammo resulting from recent executive orders handed down by the Obama Administration.

The orders primarily affect online gun sellers and people conducting sales at gun shows, further regulating these sales and attempting to limit firearms sold without a background check of the purchaser, according to a White House press release.

“We have seen an uptick in gun sales, we are running into shortages at the distributor level for product,” said Brian Harrison, manager of Leitz Sports Center in Sault Ste. Marie. “Typically we wouldn’t be as busy this time of year as we are. It seems like anytime Washington starts talking about gun control, sales go up.”

The sales increase may be a positive for gun sellers, but is not without its drawbacks.
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Round goby a good news-bad news lakes addition

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — The round goby is one of the nastiest aliens in the Great Lakes — with what the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) calls its “voracious appetite and an aggressive nature which allows them to dominate over native species.”

But smallmouth bass find them yummy chow, and that’s also good news for crayfish that used to top the smallmouth bass menu.

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Round Goby. Credit: Michigan Sea Grant


“Changes in growth seem to be occurring to the greatest extent with the youngest bass,” said Derek Crane, a fisheries biologist who works with Lake Superior State University’s Aquatic Research Laboratory. Female growth increased more than male growth.
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Trust fund awards $28 million for public lands projects

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Services

LANSING— The Natural Resources Trust Fund will award nearly $28 million for public lands projects, including funds for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Parks and Recreation divisions.

Jon Mayes, DNR recreation grants unit manager, said the fund received 149 applications this year asking for $50 million, and 70 of the projects received grants. The fund’s board decided which of them would be most valuable to the public and state.

Among the winners are Bear Lake Township in Manistee County, which will receive a $82,500 grant for a kayak/canoe launch project. It will develop 114 feet of frontage on Bear Lake for a launch facility, according to township Supervisor Vern Best.
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Wildlife researchers unsure about drones

By MARIE ORTTENBURGER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Perhaps drones could track feral swine to help oust the invasive critter from Michigan.

But local researchers hesitate to employ the technology for wildlife management.

“There’s a lot of potential for uneasiness,” said Stephen Beyer, who manages wildlife research for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

He cited public fears of surveillance and intrusion on privacy.

“We’re a state agency,” Beyer said. “There’s natural suspicion there.”
Brian Haroldson, a wildlife research biologist at the Minnesota DNR who used helicopters to count deer, also expressed concern
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