President Donates First Quarter Salary to National Parks

Secretary Zinke accepts President Trump’s first-quarter presidential salary as donation for National Park Service

$78,333 to be put towards maintenance of historic battlefields

WASHINGTON – Today, President Donald J. Trump donated his first quarter salary to the National Parks Service (NPS) to help fund the maintenance backlog in America’s historic battlefields. The donation, totaling $78,333, was accepted by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg at the daily White House Press briefing.

“President Trump is dedicated to our veterans, our public lands, and keeping his promises, and by donating his salary to the National Park Service to repair our historic battlefields proves his commitment,” Secretary Zinke said. “These historic places tell the story of conflicts that helped shape our country’s history, and they also honor the many men and women who have given their lives in service of this great nation. I’m honored to help the president carry out his love and appreciation for our warriors and land.” Read more

NSSF Commends Reintroduction and Action on Sportsmen’s Act of 2017

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan reintroduction of S.733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017 and the quick action to favorably report it out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Similar legislation was agreed upon by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate late last year, but stalled in a joint House-Senate conference committee. The bipartisan legislative package expands and enhances sportsmen’s access by making federal lands throughout the nation “open unless closed” for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities.

The legislation is sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), both members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, along with CSC leaders Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

“The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will help ensure that our nation’s hunting, fishing and shooting traditions are preserved, protected and promoted,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “This legislation addresses many priorities for American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters and its reintroduction in the Senate and immediate committee hearing is representative of the commitment these senators and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus shares for the sportsmen’s community and for America.”

The proposed legislation package would:
•Reauthorize federal lands are “open unless closed” policy for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
•Allow transport of bows and crossbows on National Parks lands;
•Exempt film crews of three or less from commercial filming fees and additional permits;
•Implement the “Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures” (HUNT) Act, improving access to federal lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation;
•Increase states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funds for construction and maintenance of public recreational shooting ranges;
•Permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting issues. Read more

Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Introduce Legislative Package for Hunting, Fishing

(Washington, DC) – This week, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Martin Heinrich (NM), along with CSC leaders, Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), introduced a bipartisan sportsmen’s package of legislation (S. 733) in the Senate.

Provisions within this bill would increase access to public lands for outdoor recreation, and enhance opportunities for pursuing hunting, angling, and recreational shooting traditions. Key provisions within S. 733 include:

  • Reauthorizing federal land open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
  • Reauthorizing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act;
  • Exempts commercial filming permits for film crews of three or fewer, or for news gathering purposes;
  • Authorizing the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act
  • Amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on federal land;
  • Permanently establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.
  • Allows the transport of bows or crossbows across National Park Service (NPS) land;
  • Allows use of qualified hunter volunteers to manage wildlife on NPS land. Read more

Michigan to Move Muskellunge to Build Broodstock

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources continues to make advancements in the state’s Great Lakes muskellunge program, and activities this spring will add to those efforts.

Since 2011, the DNR’s Fisheries Division has collected spawning Great Lakes strain muskellunge in the Detroit River. The collected eggs are reared at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan and stocked throughout the state in fall. Although the Detroit River is a natural source of this native strain, it presents several challenges.

Water temperatures on the Detroit River typically do not reach optimal levels for spawning until late May or early June, much later than smaller inland waterbodies. This results in a short rearing period and fish not reaching maximum size for stocking each fall. Additionally, the Detroit River’s expansiveness makes it extremely difficult to efficiently find spawning fish.

To offset these issues, DNR fisheries staff have been working to establish inland broodstock lakes. Since 2011, Thornapple Lake in Barry County has been stocked with Great Lakes strain muskellunge to establish a population large enough to provide a spawning population. Starting in 2017, Lake Hudson, previously the long-standing broodsource for northern strain muskellunge, was selected as the department’s second broodstock lake. When the populations are large enough, spawning fish will be netted from these inland lakes rather than the Detroit River. Read more

NRC Bans Chocolate in Bear Bait

This from MUCC…  Make sure to read all the proposals below, GW.  Very ambitious!

A little over a year ago, Michigan’s bear hunting organizations asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider banning chocolate in bear bait to reduce the risk of harming non-target wildlife. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in sufficient quantities. Organizations including the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation and the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association sponsored a resolution supporting a restriction on chocolate in bear bait through the Michigan United Conservation Clubs policy process. At the MUCC Annual Convention in June, MUCC’s member delegates approved the resolution, as well as another resolution asking MUCC to educate hunters about the dangers of chocolate in bear bait. On Thursday, the Natural Resources Commission approved a wildlife conservation order banning the use of chocolate in bear bait.

The ban was adopted as part of the bear regulation update, scheduled every three years. The NRC also adopted new quotas, including an overall 19% increase in Lower Peninsula unit quotas, both increases and decreases in Upper Peninsula unit quotas, raising the maximum number of dogs allowed for hunting or training from six to eight, and increasing the nonresident license cap from 2% to 5%. The DNR’s bear forum, consisting of multiple conservation groups including MUCC and those listed above, met during the year to discuss the changes before the DNR recommended and the NRC adopted them.

This past Saturday, Michigan United Conservation Clubs also held its final Conservation Policy Meeting before June’s Annual Convention in Owosso. The meeting was the last chance for clubs or members to introduce policy resolutions to be considered and voted upon at the Annual Convention. Any MUCC member or affiliate club can introduce a resolution, which if adopted, becomes the policy that MUCC’s professional staff advocates, such as restricting chocolate in bear bait.

Combined with the two earlier Conservation Policy Meetings in September and December, this year’s proposed resolutions will include:

  • Establish a sandhill crane hunting season
  • Designate mourning dove as a game species
  • Develop a short-term non-resident waterfowl license
  • Create a pheasant release program for hunter recruitment
  • Require hunters to wear a fall arrest system/full body harness when hunting from a treestand
  • Reintroduce cisco (lake herring) in Saginaw Bay
  • Establish a fisheries policy which includes angler input on research projects which would impact non-target species and angler access
  • Oppose the sale or transfer of state-owned public land over 80 acres or including riparian access unless designated as surplus land under a transparent and open public process
  • Oppose legislation which creates an unfunded mandate for the DNR resulting in a diversion of game and fish funds without a supplemental appropriation
  • Restrict importation of cervid carcasses from other states to deboned meat, clean skullcap, finished taxidermy, etc., and increase fines for violation
  • Reform captive cervid regulatory structure to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
  • Remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and allow purchase under same process as the National Instant Background Check System
  • Allow bear bait barrels on public land
  • Allow a crossbow to be carried afield simultaneously with a firearm during the December firearm deer seasons
  • Allow youth hunters on private land to hunt within 660 feet of a mentor hunter, provided there is uninterrupted electronic communication, the hunter is over 14 and has completed hunter safety and at least 20 hours of supervised hunting
  • Calls on the Michigan DNR to make it a priority to acquire severed minerals where the State owns the surface only to protect and control the commercial use of public land; particularly underground minerals in State Parks and lands purchased with PR and Game and Fish Funds
  • work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the Public Resource Depredation Order on cormorants; and/or with our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to come up with a law to reinstate cormorant control

These are only proposed resolutions at this point; they will not become MUCC policy unless approved at the Annual Convention by a 2/3 majority of voting delegates representing affiliate clubs and members if the resolution would change a law or regulation, or a simple majority if it wouldn’t.

Support Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ grassroots process to conserve our natural resources for future generations by making a donation at! Or, stop by the MUCC booth at the Ultimate Sport Show in Grand Rapids March 16-19 and purchase a 50/50 Conservation Jackpot ticket!

Coho Fishing Heating Up on Lake Michigan

Coho salmon on measuring board
As Michigan inches toward spring, anglers may want to plan an outing to target coho salmon in Lake Michigan. This lake’s coho season is open all year but activity really starts to pick up this month.Coho salmon have a pretty consistent migration pattern every year, starting in the southern portion of Lake Michigan and moving north into New Buffalo, St. Joseph, South Haven and sometimes Muskegon before they cross the width of the lake for much of the summer.

In 2016, anglers who ventured out into 200 feet of water, which can be more than 10 miles offshore from most ports, found coho feeding on shrimp-like species called mysis. Mysis populations appear to be doing well in this deeper water, and coho respond favorably when feeding on this nutrient-rich food source. Read more

MI DNR says fish kills may be common during spring thaw

The Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that after the ice and snow cover melts on Michigan’s lakes this early spring, it may be common to discover dead fish or other aquatic creatures. Winter conditions often can cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.

“Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill,” said DNR Fisheries Division Hatchery Manager and fish health expert Martha Wolgamood. “As the season changes it can be common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. These kills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality.”

Shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and soft bottoms are prone to this problem. Canals in urban areas also are quite susceptible due to the large inputs of nutrient run-off and pollution from roads and lawns and septic systems that flow into these areas, particularly from large storm events. Read more

Secretary Zinke Shows Support for Sportsmen on First Day in Office

Secretary Ryan Zinke and guests at the signing ceremony. (Source: Department of the Interior)
WASHINGTON — On his first official day as the 52nd Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke issued his first two secretarial orders benefitting the sportsmen and outdoor communities. Zinke invited various members from the sportsmen’s community for the signing ceremony of the secretarial orders that help expand public land access, as well as opportunities to hunt, fish and recreate across the country. Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall was present for the signing ceremony.”Today’s actions by Secretary Zinke are a clear indication that sportsmen and women around the country will have a voice at the Department of Interior,” said Dale Hall. “Providing places for all Americans to hunt, fish and recreate is vitally important, as hunters and anglers are North America’s greatest conservationists. I want to thank Secretary Zinke for his strong commitment and look forward to working him in his new capacity at the Department of Interior.”

Order 3346 overturns the lead ammunition and fishing tackle ban on Fish and Wildlife Service lands, waters, and facilities. The second order, 3347, advances conservation stewardship, improves game and habitat management and increases outdoor recreation opportunities by directing bureaus and agencies to immediately identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded. The order also requests the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to provide recommendations on enhancing and expanding access on public lands and improving habitat for fish and wildlife. Read more

Michigan’s hand netting season opens, dip netting opens March 20

With recent warmer weather conditions making many people interested in getting on the water, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers about netting season dates:

The hand netting season opened today, March 1, and closes May 31.
The dip netting season opens Monday, March 20, and also closes May 31.
The following species can be taken during both seasons: bowfin, carp, goldfish, gizzard shad, longnose gar, smelt and suckers. Waters open to hand netting include all Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River and the St. Marys River including all tributaries to those waters from the mouth to half-mile upstream. Waters open to dip netting include all Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula streams, except Designated Trout Streams.

Additional waters are closed to these activities; visit for full details.

Using seines, hand nets or dip nets for minnows is allowed all year on all waters (except Designated Trout Streams and those waters closed to minnow harvest), while cast nets can be used for alewives, minnows, smelt and gizzard shad all year on the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River and the St. Marys River.

For those interested in dipping for smelt later this spring, visit the DNR’s smelt dipping and fishing opportunities page online.

Consumers Energy Foundation awards grant to support Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative

Arctic Grayling fish swimmingThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Michigan Technological University have received a Consumers Energy Foundation grant of $117,175 to support efforts to bring back the extirpated Arctic grayling to Michigan waters.

Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative was announced in June 2016 and consists of 32 organizations that are partnering together to reintroduce this culturally significant species.

The Consumers Energy Foundation grant will fund work during 2017 to address two immediate needs for a successful reintroduction. The first is the collection of habitat and fish community data in the upper Big Manistee River. This waterbody historically was a premier Arctic grayling river and is believed to hold high-quality habitats for this species. The second is to create an outreach plan to engage Michigan citizens in the reintroduction efforts and to once again make Arctic grayling an important part of Michigan’s heritage. Read more

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