More trees, bushes planted to improve hunting grounds

By IAN K. KULLGREN
Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is moving forward with plans to provide incentives to private landowners and launch other initiatives to restore hunting habitats.

The programs, funded by recent increases to hunting and fishing license fees, are intended to rejuvenate land for hunting while maintaining a healthy game population.

In the Upper Peninsula and Alpena area, for example, DNR officials are working with landowners to plant trees and small brush to lure deer to popular hunting areas, part of an effort to “create world-class hunting opportunities” in the state, according to the department.
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State officials launch tourism initiative to promote trail network

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Information for all Michigan trails – including those on the water – would soon be available at the click of a button under legislation recently introduced by lawmakers.

That kind of accessibility is part of the Department of Natural Resource’s  plan to attract tourists to Michigan’s trails by improving them and making them easier to find.

Lawmakers recently introduced a package of five bills that would label all state trails as Pure Michigan trails, use “trail towns” to connect trails between communities and make trail information available both on a computer and through an app.

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Ongoing walleye studies help DNR

By EDITH ZHOU

Capital News Service

LANSING – The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is in its final sampling year of a tag-and-recapture study of the walleye population in the inland waterways of Northern Michigan.

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s part of ongoing research about the popular species by the Fisheries Division.

“The studies have provided data on the exploitation rate of the population, walleye growth rates and the movements between waters,” said Edward Baker, manager of the Marquette Fisheries Research Station.

Many of the state’s Great Lakes waters are world-famous for walleye.
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Commercial fishing decline hits economies, communities

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – As the number of active state-licensed commercial fishing operations dwindles on the Great Lakes, their downward spiral signals a change in culture as well as economics and environment, according to Laurie Sommers, a folklorist and historic preservation consultant.

“A few commercial fishermen still make a good living, but Great Lakes ecosystems are in crisis,” said Sommers, the author of a new book about the Leelanau Peninsula area known as Fishtown.

“The fish are disappearing, and with them the commercial fishermen,” she wrote in “Fishtown: Leland, Michigan’s Historic Fishery” (Arbutus Press, $19.95). Lake Michigan, for example, has only seven state-licensed operations left. Among the reasons: “Biologists point to a combination of factors affecting the fish population: habitat, infectious diseases, pollution, global warming and changes in the food web due to invasive species.”
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Turkeys relocated to rebuild Northern Michigan flocks

By Nick Vanderwall

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has moved 31 turkeys from Barry County north to repopulate the flock in Lake County.

wildturkey1

Source: U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife

“We’ve seen a decline in the gobblers in northern Michigan for a number of years, so when I heard about the nuisance birds in southern Michigan, the wheels started to turn in my head,” said Jim Maturen, a member of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association based in Chase.

Turkeys become a nuisance when they move into a city as they have been known to do. In Barry County, the birds were scratching and eating silage and leaving their own bit of feces behind.
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Some dam projects funded, more rejected

By JUSTIN ANDERSON

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan has more than 2,600 dams, many of which are not maintained and no longer serve a useful purpose, experts say.

Many are considered unsafe due to risk of collapse. Unmaintained dams deteriorate, threatening homes, property and people downstream, said Chris Freiburger, a supervisor with the Fisheries Division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“When we look at the number of dams we have and the age that we know of, it becomes a concern,” Freiburger said. “It’s a real infrastructure issue here that needs to be dealt with.”
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New study questions river sand trap strategy

By MICHAEL GERSTEIN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Researchers based in Marquette have potentially grave news for Michigan anglers: Hundreds of shallow basins dug into riverbeds to collect trout- and salmon-harming sediment might be more like fish coffins than protectors.

After two reportedly successful experiments in the 1980s, sand traps were constructed worldwide in an attempt to save fish populations hurt by excessive sand in freshwater streams. Michigan has more than 250.

But now, researchers from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) say they doubt whether these measures have had any benefit. In some cases, sand traps could even harm river ecosystems, experts say.
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Projects protect U.P.’s coaster brook trout

By CELESTE BOTT

Capital News Service

LANSING – Removing sand from the Salmon Trout River in Marquette County has helped protect the spawning sites of coaster brook trout, according to researchers.

Photo credit: Casey Huckins, Michigan Technological University

Coaster brook trout. Photo credit: Casey Huckins, Michigan Technological University

A sand collector was installed upstream last spring to intercept sediment before it reached the endangered trout’s spawning habitat, according to a report from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Marquette Fisheries Research Station.

The machine pumps sand out of the river, preventing it from covering stream-bottom rocks where the majority of coasters spawn.
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Spring brings fish stocking, regulation changes

By EDITH ZHOU

Capital News Service

LANSING – This year’s fishing season is starting on the wheels of stocking trucks, new regulations and programs to attract more participants.

Fish stocking at Red Cedar River. Source: Department of Natural Resources

Fish stocking at Red Cedar River. Source: Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said its $9 million program is stocking 19 million fish – 370 tons – including eight trout and salmon species and four cool-water species, including walleye and muskellunge.

This year, DNR’s fish-stocking vehicles will travel nearly 138,000 miles to more than 700 spots around the state.
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Harbor dredging could stir up PCB-contaminated sediments

By MAX KING

Capital News Service

LANSING – Dredging may be a solution to part of the Great Lakes low water problem, but it can also lead to contaminated sediments re-merging into the water, experts warn.

A new law provides an additional $20.9 million for 58 emergency harbor dredging projects this year to help recreational and commercial boaters operate in low water levels.

The most common contaminant in the bottom of the Great Lakes is polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
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