Hunt for virtual wildlife leads to real nature encounters

Capital News Service
LANSING — If you want to see wildlife you go outside. The same is true for the critters in Pokémon Go. So while people chase the virtual wildlife in that popular new game, they’re getting a taste of real nature. One group of Pokémon hunters even pooled their money to rent a boat to chase after the creatures on Lake Michigan, said Maia Turek, a recreation programmer with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It’s the kind of enthusiasm that has state parks across Michigan seeing attendance increase as people hike on trails and through campgrounds, enjoying nature as they search for Pokémon, she said.

State parks vie for new campers

Capital News Service
LANSING — To attract new visitors and save money, many state parks in Michigan and across the Great Lakes region are updating utilities and campsites and creating programming for less traditional visitors. That includes seek growth in usership by trying to attract non-campers. For example, those participating in Michigan’s First Time Camper program and Ontario’s Learn to Camp program arrive to a fully set-up campsite with park employees to guide them. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partnered with camping goods manufacturer North Face and retailer Gander Mountain to provide free equipment for the department’s two-night camping program, said Ron Olson, the department’s parks and recreation chief. DNR’s Rec 101 programs teach new campers such skills as kayaking, paddleboarding, mountain biking and geocaching, he said.

State parks lure visitors with free sports, classes

Capital News Service
If you want to know if that latest fitness trend lives up to the hype, you can find out for free in Michigan’s state parks. They’re offering more than just trail running. Beginner kayaking, windsurfing, and even stand-up paddle boarding – what the Wall Street Journal recently referred to as the “fitness rage of the summer” – are just a few of the classes in Recreation 101. The program is designed to get people into state parks. Local outfitters volunteer their expertise and gear in beginner classes that also include archery, disc golf and orienteering.