Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Fling at Crystal Mountain March 14-15

Crystal Mountain
Getting some big air at Crystal Mountain. Getting some big air at Crystal Mountain
based on a story byMike Terrell

March brings warmer temperatures, but there is still plenty of fun to be found a Crystal Mountain. Longer days make the evenings enjoyable. Spring Fling Weekend in March 14-15, and March 17 brings a bit of blarney with at St. Patrick's Day event.

Spring Fling is all about fun. There's a classic cardboard race, and a jiggle jump that ends in a pit full of Jell-O. Race a kayak down a ski hill or participate in the Slush Cup. Spectators get lots of laughs without being as cold as the participants. Face painting for the kids, and an outdoor barbecue for all.

On March 17, you can put an O' in front of your name and join the Irish Fun. Lots of green in the theme and more fun for the entire family. For those who want to do an Irish Pub Crawl, the party will move to Traverse City for the evening.

See Crystal Mountain
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Interlochen and Ludington to Help Celebrate 90th Year of MI State Parks

from the Michigan DNR

Interlochen State Park became the first state park in 1919. Since then, Michigan has expanded to 98 state parks and recreation areas. The newest state park, Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor in Detroit, was established in 2003 and is still in its final phases of construction.

Over the years, the state park system also has acquired 285,000 acres of land which serve as the foundation for six scenic sites, 10 lighthouses, 830 developed boating access sites, 17 harbors, five linear trails and numerous historic and cultural features, all under the authority of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

Michigan's State Park System will be celebrating 90 years of excellence at all Michigan state parks and recreation areas throughout 2009. The Department of Natural Resources is planning a 90th Anniversary Kick-Off for Saturday, June 20, at state parks and recreation areas across Michigan with cake, ice cream and activities for our visitors.

From Old Thyme Days at Interlochen State Park to music festivals and fishing contests, history week at Ludington State Park, geo-caching days and a native heritage day, there will be a wide variety of events to pique the interest of park visitors and outdoor enthusiasts.

As events are planned, they will be posted Go Get Outdoors
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Owasippe Outdoor Education Center Sends Proposal to Buy Owasippe

Owasippe Outdoor Education Center logo
information from the Owasippe Outdoor Education Center

The OOEC is pleased to announce that they have submitted a formal proposal to purchase Owasippe from the Chicago Area Council. The OOEC hopes to have an opportunity to present the proposal to the Chicago Area Council Board of Directors in the near future.

Partnered with the Trust for Public Lands, and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Foundation they hope to conserve Owasippe as a world-class outdoor education experience for young people and adults.

The plan is to continue Scout camping at Owasippe, but there will also be controlled-access public activities and events at Owasippe facilities. Potential public access may be in the form of a public campground, hiking and biking trails, fishing, cross-country skiing, cabin rental, and environmental education events.

Owasippe Outdoor Education Center is the only known group working to save the Owasippe property in its entirety. There are other groups who are interested in purchasing portions of the property for conservation uses or to add to their current land holdings, but the OOEC wants to purchase the entire 4,800 acres and protect it from residential development.

Donations can be accepted at the web site.

See Owasippe Outdoor Education Center
See Owasippe Court Appeal Still Stands
See Owasippe Saved But Not Preserved
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Free Lake Michigan Circle Tour & Lighthouse Map

Circle Tour guide
from the West Michigan Tourist Association

The West Michigan Tourist Association will provide you with a free copy of the new Circle Tour & Lighthouse map. All they ask is that you sign up and tell them which region of Michigan is your home area, and some of the activities that interest you. The map and guide shows all of the lighthouses around Lake Michigan and provides highlights, accessibility and photos of over 20 lighthouses!

The West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide is a comprehensive year-round travel guide, and is packed with over 1,000 places to stay and play in West Michigan. It contains travel information for each of the four seasons and events across the region. This free guide is essential for planning a West Michigan getaway.

This is the only comprehensive publication encompassing four-seasons of travel planning in the region. Both visitors and residents will find it indispensable.

You have the option to be emailed the URL of where you can download the pdfs, or to receive the booklets by mail.

See Lake Michigan Circle Tour & Lighthouse Map
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Michigan State Park Reservation System Getting Upgrades

from a news release of the Michigan DNR

The Michigan State Park reservation system will be closed down from March 7-14, but when it reopens the upgrades should make users happier. Both the call center in Iron River and the online reservation system will be shut down from 5 p.m., Saturday, March 7 until 9 a.m., Sunday, March 15, when both the call center and the online system will reopen for reservations. No camping or harbor reservations can be taken during this closure.

"We apologize to our users for the inconvenience this temporary closure may cause," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division. "However, the improvements will enhance the reservation system for our customers and is the result of input from our users."

Improvements will include a shopping cart system, and the ability to handle a larger number of calls.

"The upgrades provide a number of improvements that have been requested by our campers," Olson said. "It will allow online users to put a hold on a site while they input their information. The hold will expire after a few minutes in case they change their mind or get busy doing something else."

For more information about the temporary closure of the reservation system, contact Christa Sturtevant at (231) 861-2703.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sierra Club Wants to Safeguard Wild Places

Sierra Club Logo
from the Michigan Sierra Club

You can enjoy Michigan's special forests while helping to protect them.

The Sierra Club invites you to join us in helping the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) seek out, find, and designate the most special places in our Michigan State Forest system.

Michigan's 4 million acres of State Forests are home to lakes, rivers, vernal pools, and other gems. Recently, the DNR has begun designating the most special of these areas as "High Value Conservation Forests". They have instituted a public nomination process which allows the public to identify, and then nominate, these special pieces of our forests for protected status.

The Sierra Club is beginning a program to help citizens identify and nominate the areas of our forests most deserving of protection. We will train folks in what the requirements are, ask you to scout out areas with which you are familiar, and help in completing the nominating form which will be submitted to the DNR for nomination.

The Sierra Club Forest Ecologist, Marvin Roberson, will be conducting the training and assisting with the nomination process. I will be coordinating volunteer involvement in this exciting project. This is your opportunity to get out in the woods and help protect the places you love!

Michigan has the largest State Forest system in the country. And recently the Department of Natural Resources started developing plans that will determine what lands are protected, how habitat is managed, where to locate recreational areas, and how much logging occurs (and where). With the timber industry demanding increased logging, the growing idea of using wood for biomass energy, plus competing pressures on the land for recreational and economic development activities, Michigan’s state forests are facing a critical crossroads.

Your knowledge and concern for Michigan’s public forests can help move our forests in the right direction and protect our natural heritage. Do you know a special place on Michigan’s state forest lands that deserves special protection? You can help to nominate and work to protect high conservation value forests by contacting Sierra Club Forest Policy Specialist Marvin Roberson here.

Please contact me to get involved with this program! Call 517-484-2372 or email Amanda Hightree

See Michigan Sierra Club
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Sensible Decisions Averted Winter Tragedy

a news release of the Michigan DNR

A recent ice rescue on Hubbard Lake in Alcona County by Michigan conservation officers highlights the importance of knowing what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation while enjoying Michigan's winter recreation opportunities.

In the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 19, a concerned mother called the Department of Natural Resources' Report All Poaching (RAP) Line, the 24-hour law enforcement hotline, to report that her son had not returned home from ice fishing on Hubbard Lake. The man had planned on being home by 7:30 p.m., she said.

Conservation Officers Brian Engelhard and Warren MacNeill both responded. Weather conditions on the lake were severe - temperatures below 10 degrees and blowing snow with visibility of less than 40 feet. The officers proceeded to perform a grid search on the lake.

At 4:45 a.m., the officers located the man in his pickup truck, cold but alive. The truck had become stuck and the man made the decision to stay inside the vehicle. Eventually the truck ran out of gas, but he remained in the truck, using a small portable propane heater from his shanty until it ran out of fuel. The man then piled articles on top of himself to conserve body heat.

As the officers were searching the lake, the man's family retrieved global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the location where the man was previously fishing with a friend. This information was invaluable in this situation, said Lt. Creig Grey, DNR law enforcement supervisor in Roscommon.

"This situation easily could have ended in a tragedy, but this man and his family knew the importance of being safe when going out on the ice," Grey said. "His family knew when to expect him home, they knew approximately where he was going to fish, he made the decision to stay in his vehicle to try to stay warm, and the family knew that with recent warmer weather and the current weather conditions they needed to contact authorities for help. These are all important reminders for anyone venturing out on the ice this winter."

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jobs That Get You Off The Couch

From time to time I receive emails with job posting information. I have decided to add a section in the sidebar to include these opportunities. Some, perhaps many, of them will not be in Michigan, but they may be of interest. A number of them are seasonal.

Hopefully someone will find this helpful.

The first two postings are for summer staff for Camp Laurel youth camp in Maine, and summer staff for the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan. Click the link in the sidebar for more information.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Luge yourself in Muskegon

Muskegon Luge
Muskegon luge (photo from
The following is an excerpt from a story which we believe is worthy of reading, but would lose too much of its charm if it were re-written for presentation on this blog. Please link through for the rest of the story, but hurry back! ... JHY

by Christopher Borrelli

"You know," my 15-year-old luge instructor tells me, to ease my nerves, "more people die in cheerleading than luge." I nod and lean back against the yellow sled, inching toward the gate, nothing but icy curves ahead, all pointing downhill. "It's true," she says. She's sunny and says she holds the record for the fastest time on this track. "No one ever died at luge. Not here."

I ask if she cheerleads, trying to make small talk—anything to avoid being shoved inevitably down that slope. "No," she says. Actually, they don't shove you. They don't push you, either. You launch yourself down the 850-foot track, from a starting point roughly two stories high, through your own stupid volition. Considering that the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex has one of the few publicly accessible luge tracks in the country—the most publicly accessible, they claim ...

finish the story at the Chicago Tribune

See Muskegon Winter Sports Complex
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A Garden Grows in Glen Arbor

Glen Arbor Garden rendition
conception drawing for Glen Arbor Garden (from the brochure)
based on a news article in the Leelanau News, "Grand opening set for G-A’s new public garden project," Feb 18, 2009
and the project brochure

For generations, Glen Arbor has provided memorable moments for families whether they come for the summer, a week vacation or just a day. Nestled between the stunning beauty of Sleeping Bear Bay and pristine waters of Glen Lake are shops, restaurants and family attractions. It is a town where walking and browsing is a way of life. Art galleries enhance, musical events enrich, and gardens thrive.

In the summer of 2007, a group of citizens stepped forward with creative ideas for the space created by the vacating of the previous Fire Hall property. Initially, this effort was led by the committed women of the Glen Lake Garden Club. They were later joined by community leaders and the Chamber of Commerce. This dynamic group focused their attention on a garden oriented solution. The final design, developed by Russ Clark, a Traverse City landscape architect, was presented at a public forum iin June 2008 and quickly caught the attention and excitement of the community.

$75,000 was budgeted for the project, and that goal has been exceeded. One of the most successful efforts has been the sale of 400 commemorative bricks which will be used for the walkways and paved areas. A grand opening is being planned for late May, with the bricks in place. In order for the bricks to be ready and installed for the May opening, they must be ordered by Feb. 28.

“We have done tremendously well with the fundraising and are very grateful for the generous support we’ve received from the community,” said Linda Young, fundraising committee chair. Nearly $125,000 has been raised. The Grand Traverse Regional Foundation is handling the administration of the funds, allowing for contributions to be tax deductible.

The project also includes a public restroom facility that will be open six months a year, a community kiosk managed by the Glen Arbor Chamber of Commerce, walkways and a central gathering place.

“We’re eager to see the plantings, commemorative bricks, picnic tables and park benches in place as they will be the final touches on the project,” said Young. “We are planning a grand community celebration over Memorial Day Weekend to open the garden.”

SeeGlen Arbor Garden
See Glen Arbor Garden brochure, a pdf
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Access to Nature May Be Essential, Not Merely Optional

Frances Kuo
Frances Kuo, a professor of natural resources and environmental science and psychology at Illinois, studies how environmental factors, such as access to nature, may influence social, psychological and physical health. (photo by L. Brian Stauffer)
from a news release of The University of Illinois

Elderly adults tend to live longer if their homes are near a park or other green space, regardless of their social or economic status. College students do better on cognitive tests when their dorm windows view natural settings. Children with ADHD have fewer symptoms after outdoor activities in lush environments. Residents of public housing complexes report better family interactions when they live near trees.

These are only a few of the findings from recent studies that support the idea that nature is essential to the physical, psychological and social well-being of the human animal, said Frances Kuo, a professor of natural resources and environmental science and psychology at the University of Illinois.

“Humans are evolved organisms and the environment is our habitat,” Kuo said. “Now, as human societies become more urban, we as scientists are in a position to look at humans in much the same way that those who study animal behavior have looked at animals in the wild to see the effect of a changing habitat on this species.”

Humans living in landscapes that lack trees or other natural features undergo patterns of social, psychological and physical breakdown that are strikingly similar to those observed in other animals that have been deprived of their natural habitat, Kuo said.

“In animals what you see is increases in aggression, you see disrupted parenting patterns, their social hierarchies are disrupted,” she said. Considerable research has found that violence and aggression are highest in urban settings devoid of trees and grass, for example.

Kuo has studied how access to nature influences crime and conflict resolution among residents of public housing facilities in Chicago. These facilities provide an ideal laboratory for studying the “green effect,” she said, because their occupants are randomly assigned to standard housing units, some of which have grass and trees nearby.

In a 2001 study of the Robert Taylor Homes (recently demolished), Kuo and her colleague, U. of I. landscape architecture professor William Sullivan, found that those who lived in housing units with no immediate view of or access to nature reported a greater number of aggressive – including violent – conflicts with partners or children than their peers who lived near trees and grass.

“Roughly 7 percent of the variation in crime that can’t be accounted for by other factors can be accounted for by the amount of trees,” Kuo said.

Humans suffer a variety of negative social effects when living in barren landscapes. Kuo and her colleagues have shown that these effects include decreased civility, less supervision of children outdoors, more illegal activity, more aggression, more property crime, more loitering, more graffiti and more litter.

“In our studies, people with less access to nature show relatively poor attention or cognitive function, poor management of major life issues, poor impulse control,” she said. Other researchers have found that access to nature positively influences a person’s mood, life and work satisfaction, she said.

More recent studies by various teams in Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the U.S., are showing that access to nature – or lack thereof – can also have significant physical effects. A large-scale study in the Netherlands found that general health is predicted by the amount of green space within a 1-mile or 3-mile radius, Kuo said. Another study found that elderly Japanese adults lived longer when their homes were within walking distance of a park or other green space. These effects were independent of their social or economic status.

While none of these studies proves conclusively that nature is essential to optimal functioning in humans, Kuo said, the body of evidence strongly points in that direction.

See the complete article, The science suggests access to nature is essential to human health

See SAD Not Well Understood
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest 2009

Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson (photo from NOAA)
a news release of the US EPA

The EPA, Generations United, the Dance Exchange, and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc., announce a poetry, essay, photo and dance contest "that best expresses the Sense of Wonder that you feel for the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful to your eyes." We want you to share this love of nature with a child and others around you. When we teach our eyes and ears and senses to focus on the wonders of nature, we open ourselves to the wonders around us.

Contestants will work across generations to share through one of these distinct mediums their own interactions with and reflections on the wonders of nature.

Dance video entries are not limited to the moving body. You can use live performers and/ or capture movement and change visible in nature: birds landing, trees shaking in a storm, a river flowing... Experienced and first time dancers and video makers are encouraged to participate.

Entries are due June 10, 2009

See complete Sense of Wonder contest information
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Monday, February 16, 2009

SPW Trail Club February Outing

Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA
SPW trail club members in the warming shelter at Big M (photo by a helpful Scout)
by Joan H. Young

Anyone who would like to get outside more often, but doesn't want to have to figure out a good place to go, or someone to go with, need look no farther than to the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.

With very few exceptions the club has led a hike once a month for the past 10 years. Most adventures have been within Mason, Manistee, Lake or Oceana counties.

Over the years the club has settled into a routine of the February outing being at Big M ski area just east of Manistee. Everyone goes out on the trails in small groups, choosing routes that match their skill levels. Some people snowshoe off-trail (so as to not damage the ski tracks). But then people congregate in the warming shelter for homemade chili made by a member and heated on the wood stove.

Yesterday we swapped stories of hikes in the Adirondacks, at Whitefish Bay, adventures in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota or just in the next county. John displayed his new GPS unit, Vicky and Barb brought dessert, and we generally made more noise than the Scouts or a group of college kids who drove up from Miami of Ohio for the weekend.

Anyone is welcome to join the outings. Hikes are almost always at 10 am on the second Saturday of each month. Distances range from 2 or 3 miles to an occasional longer distance of 6-7 miles. There is always a hike leader who knows the trail. Some hikes are on the North Country Trail, while others take advantage of the many trail resources in the local area.

If you would like to be added to the monthly email list to be notified of hikes contact Joan Young

See Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Polar Bears in Manistee

young Scout by campfire
Polar Bear candidate (photo by J Young)

by Joan H. Young, a GOTC exclusive

Polar Bears are not endangered in Manistee. Boy Scout Troop 167 was adding several more to the ranks this weekend. Manistee Polar Bears are not white and furred with four feet. They are Scouts who have stayed outside for a minimum of 20 hours, and cooked over an open fire, when the temperature is below freezing. Troy, tending the fire here, was determined to earn the Polar Bear Badge this weekend despite having a cold. Encouragement from his buddies and leaders practically guaranteed success.

bringing supplies by sled
sledding in supplies (photo by J Young)

Nine boys and four leaders were camped at Big M ski area this weekend. (The area is not open for camping in general, but special permission was granted to the troop.) There is always plenty to do around camp, no matter what the season. Bringing supplies from the vehicles can actually be easier in the winter when a sled can be used. Other boys were chopping wood, shaking snow from the tents, shoveling, or taking damp sleeping bags inside the warming shelter to dry them out.

tents in the snow
winter quarters (photo by J Young)
Scoutmaster Klaus Kutschke explained that the troop does a winter campout each year. With justifiable pride he revealed that the troop has awarded Eagle rank to 18 boys since 2000. Eagle is the highest rank a Boy Scout can attain. "The lessons in ethical living last a lifetime," Kutschke stated. "Winter camping builds character, too," he added. Following the Scout Oath and Laws have been consistent goals throughout the decades of Scouting, as well as building leadership skills. Assistant Scoutmaster Brian Postema, and two scouting moms were also serving as counselors for the weekend.

making scrambled eggs
Nick & John make scrambled eggs (photo by J Young)
The campers ranged in age from 11 to 16. Most of the boys had previously earned their Polar Bear. These veterans were cooking in the warming shelter on propane stoves. At first the older boys started the potatoes. When asked why they weren't letting the younger ones cook they answered, "We don't want breakfast burned!" But soon Nick and John were breaking eggs into a pan. "Hey, don't forget the milk!" called one as the other headed for the stove. "Oh, yeah," was the reply. Scouts work together. Soon they were scooping eggs and hash browns into their mouths, and then cleaning the dishes and putting away the stoves (with a little reminder from Postema).

The chores were soon done and the whoops and hollering began as the boys took to the steep slopes at Big M. Snowboards, saucers, sleds, and even an inner tube threaded a track through the trees. A couple of fresh inches of snow over the remaining icy base after the warm week made conditions very good for sliding. "There's a great jump at the end," said one snowboarder. These young fellows may very well be headed for leadership roles as adults, but Scouting is also about times for having fun.

Other activities included snowshoeing, fire building, wood chopping, and much discussion of progress toward ranks. I was mightily heartened to see young people enjoying a weekend outdoors, totally oblivious to the weather.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Izaak Walton Winterfest Attracts 350

kids on ice at Winterfest
kids playing on ice (photo from the Michigan Ikes)
from the Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League Feb 2009 Newsletter

What a wonderful Winterfest! The sun came out, and once all those kids started running around they didn't seem to notice the cold. It was just great to see our place transformed by all those happy kids and their families. Ice fishing crosscountry skiing, candle making and archery are always popular, but I saw plenty of kids participating in every activity we had to offer. Fly-tying, birdfeeders and birdhouses, sledding, exploring on snowshoes.... I was so happy to see kids in “my” snow fort, and it was even cooler when they started adding on, tunneling through, and making it their own.
Winterfest activities (photo from the Michigan Ikes)

They got creative with the shelters in the woods, too, building with branches and chunks of ice. I'd really like to point out that most of these things don't cost any money at all. Snow, ice, hills, gravity are all free if we're smart enough to preserve the space to enjoy them. We have such a nice place, and it’s fun to invite the community in once in a while.

We made some new friends, and I believe some new members, too. Turnout was maybe 350, give or take 30 happy helpers. Thanks to all for coming, and I'd like to thank each and every one who pitched in! Also thanks to Cannonsburg Ski Area for letting us shuttle to their lot, and thanks to Bill & Paul’s for loaning us the cross-country skis.

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Conservation Club to Feature Arlen Matson

Arlen Matson
Arlen Matson (photo by J Young)
from the Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club

Monday evening, February 16, Arlen Matson of Traverse City will share excerpts from his book The Adventures of Anderson. The book recounts the outdoor exploits of three young men in the Upper Peninsula in the years following WWII.

Matson will also share about the new Hodenpyl segment of the North Country Trail which extends nearly into the village of Mesick.

The meeting begins at 7:30, and will take place at the Conservation Clubhouse, west of Brethren. From M-55 turn north on Highbridge Road through Brethren. North of Brethren turn west on Coates Highway. (This is not directly across from the east turn on Coates!) In just over a mile you will see the sign to turn left to the Spirit of the Woods Conservation Clubhouse, before crossing Bear Creek.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Register for the 2009 Michigander Bicycle Tour

Michigander logo
from Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

Register now for the 2009 Michigander Bicycle Tour to venture across some of Michigan’s scenic rail trails and back roads. This family-friendly ride will take place on the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, Pere Marquette Railtrail, White Pine Railtrail and Saginaw Valley Trail. Riders will have the option of biking for two , seven or six days across mostly paved paths for an average of 35-55 miles per day. All routes this year will be circle tours, with the start and finish lines in Edmore, Michigan

Michigander Bicyle Tour is a ride for everybody. Both experienced and beginner cyclists as well as kids from 8 to 86 years old have thoroughly enjoyed the Michigander adventure. It is a tour ideal for hybrid, mountain and road bikes with a fully paved route option available. It’s a family-friendly ride that includes camping, two meals provided every day, shuttle service for your baggage, support service, and rest stops. The route will be on trails and low-traffic back roads in between the trails. The 35-55 mile days allow for lots of time.

The two day ride is July 11-12, and travels from Edmore to Greenville and back. The seven day ride also begin in Edmore, and the six day ride joins this group on July 12.

See Michigander at Michigan Trails and Greenways
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MTGA Reports Non-Motorized Map Update for SW MI

MGTA logo
from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

Phase I of the Non-Motorized Map Update and Plan for MDOT?s Southwest Region (Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren Counties) was approved by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). This proposal would not have been completed without the hard work of the SMART Task Force. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission will be the lead agency.

The Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference will be Oct 25-28, 2009. SMART is also lending their assistance to Nancy Krupiarz (MTGA) in the planning and volunteering for the Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference to be held on October 25-28, 2009 in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the Radisson Hotel. It will be great to work with Kalamazoo City and County, the Kalamazoo River Valley Trailway and many others who worked so hard to get the conference in Kalamazoo.

Professionals, advocates and trail users are working together to create a growing network of greenways and trails tying together people, places and pportunities for recreation. In the spirit of working together, the 4th Mid-America Trails & Greenways Conference celebrates existing and new connections and offers an excellent opportunity for all those involved in trails and greenways to share our experiences, learn from each other and continue connecting our trails and greenways.

Kalamazoo combines a wealth of recreational trails, parks and natural areas with a vibrant mix of historic neighborhoods and a renovated and vibrant Art Deco downtown. Named by the Urban Land Institute as “Top Ten Turnaround Downtown”, Kalamazoo offers many award-winning visitor destinations from brewpubs and wineries to outstanding museums to sparking lakes and rivers that will offer an enjoyable experience for all participants.

See Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference
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Ornithological Congress to be Held in Petoskey

Michigan Bird Conservation Initiative logo
a news release of Michigan DNR

The Michigan Bird Conservation Initiative (MiBCI) will hold its third Ornithological Congress April 3-5 at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey. MiBCI is a partnership with representatives from local, state, and federal agencies, nonprofit conservation groups, academics, and individuals promoting sound, scientific management of birds in Michigan.

"We're very excited about this year's Ornithological Congress," said Department of Natural Resources All-Bird Biologist Karen Cleveland. "Several representatives of nationally recognized programs will be in attendance to discuss their projects with Michigan's conservation community."

Highlights include talks by Terry Rich, the national coordinator of Partners in Flight; Tina Phillips, a project leader from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Bill Bowerman, noted bald eagle expert and professor at Clemson University.

This year's Ornithological Congress also will feature a citizen science fair on April 5 with free admission for the general public. Representatives of a number of grassroots conservation efforts will share information on opportunities for the public to get actively involved in conservation projects in the state.

Two of the largest issues facing Michigan's birds are the impacts of invasive species and climate change. Speakers from The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Michigan State University will discuss the ramifications of these impacts and what can be done about them.

In addition, there will be concurrent meetings with the northern regional chapters of the Michigan Audubon Society and the Michigan Chapter of The Wildlife Society at North Central Michigan College.

"This is a great opportunity for our members to share information and work together to conserve the state's wildlife," said Jim Schneider, president of the Michigan Chapter of the Wildlife Society. "So many conservation issues are relevant to all species, not just birds."

The congress provides an opportunity for organizations, agencies, and individuals to develop partnerships for current and future projects.

"No one organization can conserve all of the birds in Michigan," said Chair Richard Wolinski. "But the connections made at the Ornithological Congress help to pool resources and achieve larger goals."

See Michigan Bird Conservation Initiative
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Prehistoric Ceremonial Site or Random Natural Arrangement?

circle of underwater stones in Grand Traverse Bay
Underwater archeologist Mark Holley investigates a circle of stones on the Grand Traverse Bay floor (photo by Chris Doyal)
" based on a news article of the Chicago Tribune, "Underwater stones puzzle archeologists," by James Janega, Feb 8, 2009

"This is going to invite so much controversy that this is where we're going to be for the next 20 years," bemoaned diver and underwater archeologist Mark Holley. He is referring to a strange circle of stones located underwater in Grand Traverse Bay. He located the stones in 2007, but recently a blogger discovered the report and it has become an overnight sensation.

The stones could simply be an ancient shoreline or glacial debris. But their apparent geometric arrangement could indicate that humans placed them. 6000- 9000 years ago the lake floor here was exposed tundra, and roamed by hunter-gatherers. One suggestion for the arrangement is that of a fishing weir in a long disappeared river.

Native Americans are expressing concerns that it may be a sacred site. Archeologists are skeptical, but plan for a laser scan this summer from which a computer model can be built.

There is one claim that a large stone has an etching of a mastadon scratched in it. "It would be a really spectacular find— if it turns out to be true," said Charles Cleland, retired curator of Great Lakes archeology and ethnology at Michigan State University. "It would be the only visual representation of such in the whole hemisphere."

Holley found the site by accident while doing lake floor survey work in summer 2007 for the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve. After several passes, a row of stones became clear. When divers visited the site to take photographs, they were left vaguely unnerved. "It was really spooky when we saw it in the water," Holley said. "The whole site is spooky, in a way. When you're swimming through a long line of stones and the rest of the lake bed is featureless, it's just spooky."

Hank Bailey of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians said that the rocks appear to be arranged with some purpose. The exact location is being kept secret to avoid disturbance.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Michigan Man Walks the Mormon Battalion Trek Trail

Kevin Hensen and hikers
Mormon Battalion Trek participant Kevin Hensen, left, arrives at Fort Leavenworth with members of Boy Scout Troop 784 from Olathe, Kansas (photo by Prudence Siebert of the Leavenworth Lamp)
based on news articles in the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, and The Californian, plus the Mormon Battalion Trek site

The year was 1846, and the Mexican-American War was raging. Brigham Young urged the Mormon men to enlist in a battalion of 500, under the command of the Army of the West. They marched 2000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California, the longest march in military history. The trail was envisioned as a route for supplies, crossing harsh terrain, plains, mountains, deserts, and hostile Indian territory.

July 4, 2008, the Mormon Battalion Trek began-- the first complete re-march of the route. Living history buffs dressed and lived as the original marchers, camping along the way. The hikers reached San Diego this week, on February 2, 194 days later.

Kevin and his wife Denny Hensen, of Midland, Michigan were key among the group who completed the trek. "(The soldiers) impress me more every day," said the 54-year-old Boy Scout leader. Although an experienced hiker, he says that he hadn't really understood the full meaning of embarking on such a long hike. He dressed in clothing that would have been worn in 1846, cooked over an open fire, and walked 12-17 miles a day.

As he walked he saw ruts made by wagons 150 years ago. In the evenings he read entries from the soldiers' journals. And he had studied the history before he ever left home. But, "nobody's ever searched this section in detail," he said. "We've found towns that no longer exist, we see wagon trails and areas where no wagon trails ever existed."

Much of the reason for the hike was to engage with people. Along the way the Hensens have been joined for stretches of various lengths by students, Scouts, tourists, teachers and history enthusiasts.

The trek ended at the southern tip of Anza Borrego State Park earlier this week. Hensen is planning to begin speaking to groups about his hike immediately, with programs scheduled this weekend in California.

See The Mormon Battalion Trek
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Outdoor Recreation Report Finds Significant Gender Differences

kids learn about toads
Kevin McGrath of Michigan Nature Discovery shows two species of Michigan toads to an attentive audience at a National Trails Day event in 2006 (photo by J Young)
a news release of Outdoor Industry Association

The recently-released 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report highlights a number of trends in gender differences relating to participation in outdoor recreation that could have significant impact on outdoor industry businesses. Key findings on gender differences include:
  • Among boys and girls age 6 to 12, the report reveals that a significant participation gap has opened, with girls’ participation falling significantly below boys’.
  • Participation among youth ages 6 to 17 dropped over 11% with girls age 6 to12 showing the biggest decline, falling to 61%, and boys age 6 to 12 falling to 72%.

These declines create a significant, new gap between boys and girls participation in outdoor activities – in 2006 the participation rates for boys and girls age 6 to 12 were 79% and 77%, respectively.

Looking at adults, the report reveals that while outdoor activities are more popular than indoor activities and team ball sports among men ages 18 to 65, indoor activities are the most popular among women ages 13 and older. While men are connecting with outdoor activities in increasing numbers, women are heading indoors in their teens.

These findings, along with many others in the report, are critical to outdoor industry businesses as well as efforts nationwide seeking to understand and reverse the growing inactivity crisis among youth and the growing disconnect between youth and the outdoors.

To help the outdoor industry identify the growth opportunities suggested in the 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, The Outdoor Foundation will host a Webinar on Wednesday, February 18, at 2:00 p.m. (MST).

register for this free, informative Webinar
See the 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Kids and the Outdoors
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Grand Rapids Writer Enjoys Bowman Lake Trails

alt text
the Bowman Lake Trail offers skiers a variety of deep snow terrain, including remote-feeling bowls in the forest. (photo by Howard Meyerson)

The following is an excerpt from a story which we believe is worthy of reading, but would lose too much of its charm if it were re-written for presentation on this blog. Please link through for the rest of the story, but hurry back! ... Editor

by Howard Meyerson

Two hours along the deep, snowy trail, we were still debating the merit of having set off on cross-country skis and leaving the snowshoes in the car. But that would soon change.

Fritz Seegers, of Kalamazoo, and I were shuffling through deep snow, watching big deer bound through the woods ahead. It was 11 degrees with a wind-chill close to zero. The ice had built up on Seegers' beard.

We hadn't seen another soul all day, but that's how we like it: remote, quiet and wild feeling, with a bit of a challenge thrown in.

The Bowman Lake Trail in the Manistee National Forest was proving to be all of that...

finish the story at the Grand Rapids Press

These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

See New Trail at Bowman Lake is Complete
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Ludington Lakestride Sets 2009 Race Agenda

runner in the Ludington Lakestride
runner in the Ludington Lakestride Half-Marathon 2007 (photo by cyoas)
based on information from Gary Anderson, Ludington Lakestride Race Manager

The popular Ludington Lakestride races are scheduled for 2009. Activities will be staged on June 13-14, with the Ludington High School serving as the hub for all activities. The school, on N. Washington Avenue will be used for registration, and the Friday night spaghetti dinner.

Also this year will be a free, one-mile fun run on Friday, June 13. The exact course for this run has not been set. This will be followed by a spaghetti dinner, which is offered by the Ludington Runners Club. There is a charge for the dinner.

Saturday morning the 5K (3.1 mile) and half-marathon (13.1 mile) races will begin at 8:30. Both races begin on Lakeshore Drive and head north. The 5K runners will turn into Cartier Park, following paths there to Rath Ave, and Bryant Road, then return to Stearns Park. The half-marathon race continues past Cartier Park to M-115, Piney Ridge Road and into the State Park, returning to M-115, and also ending in Stearns Park.

Registration is not yet open, but will be handled by Classic Race, and should be available around March 1.

See Ludington Lakestride Half-Marathon 2007
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Stearns Park
See Cartier Park
See Ludington State Park

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund - Under Attack Again

based on information from Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance , and an editorial in Hometown Life

One of the stunning successes in Michigan has been the Natural Resources Trust Fund. Voters made it part of the state constitution that royalties from gas and oil revenues must be used to purchase recreational lands and improve those assets.

But in really lean years like this one that pot of money looks very fat and handy. Rep. Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) has introduced legislation bring a vote which would allow up to half of that money to go for development and management of game and sport fisheries, including stocking.

This is not what the voters of the state chose in 1976 when the fund was established, and it is not what they wanted in 2002 when it was once again placed on the ballot. People in Michigan want recreational land preserved with Trust Fund money. To change the provisions of the fund requires a change in the state constitution.

Each year, through the Trust Fund grant process, recreational opportunities are created, preserved and improved.

See Revisions to Natural Resources Trust Fund Rules
See MUCC works to stop raid on Natural Resources Trust Fund
See Michigan's Recreation Treasure Chest
and numerous articles about projects funded- search in the box at the upper left of this page for Natural Resources Trust Fund
See Michigan Votes to find actions on Michigan Legislation. Put Natural Resources Trust Fund in the search box.
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Free Seminar- Botulism and the Bottom of Lake Michigan

duck paralyzed by botulism
Redhead duck paralyzed by botulism (photo by T. Bollinger from Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre)
based on a news article in the Leelanau News, "Seminar to Focus on Botulism Die-Offs," Feb 2, 2009

The Inland Seas Education Association is offering the seminar, "The Bottom of Lake Michigan and Its Connection to Botulism," on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at the Inland Seas Education Center in Suttons Bay (100 Dame Street). The program begins at 7 pm.

Ken Hyde, wildlife biologist with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be the presenter. The seminar is free and open to the public.

Hyde will speak about the back-to-back waterbird die-offs of 2006 and 2007 that occurred at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Type E Botulism was identified as the cause. Over 4200 bird, and countless fish have died of the disease. Eighteen species of birds, including the endangered piping plover, and eight fish species were affected.

The mechanism of bacterial spread is linked to the exotic species, the round goby and quagga mussels. A native algae is also a part of the cycle which supports the botulism bacteria. The program will explain current research efforts and potential long-term impacts.

Hyde has degrees from Brigham Young University and Texas A & I University in wildlife and range management. His experience includes over 20 years as a wildlife biologist and conservationist with the Utah Division of Wildlife, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

See Inland Seas Education Association
See 330 Trillion Quagga Mussels Can't be Right
See The Sad Farewell for Loon C-3
See Type-E Botulism Confirmed in Waterfowl Deaths
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Revisions to Natural Resources Trust Fund Rules

by Nancy Krupiarz, Executive Director, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

Today was the day the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board met to discuss and act on new scoring criteria for 2009’s application cycle. As you may know the Natural Resources Trust fund board was concerned because there has been a decline in the number of applications submitted over the last few years, particularly from urban areas. To address this situation Chuck Nelson, Professor, from Michigan State University, conducted some listening sessions in several “distressed” community locations (Marquette, Roscommon, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Taylor and Saginaw). These are some of the concerns they heard:
  • Lack of match
  • Lack of dollars for planning in order to prepare a proposal
  • Their budget situation is such that they can barely keep their existing facilities running, let alone developing and operating a new facility
  • Perceived complexity in preparing the grant application
The community representatives also offered various recommendations for changes in the application process, all of which were taken into account by the staff in preparing proposed revisions to the scoring criteria. Here is a general summary of the changes that the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board approved to help address the above concerns and others. There are now 13 priority project types instead of 6. Trails and greenways is one of those projects. Every year the board will decide 3 priority project types that will receive extra points. The board decided the 2009 priority project types to be 1) trails and greenways; 2) projects in urban areas; and 3) wildlife and ecological corridors. All projects fitting these categories will receive 50 extra points, but contrary to past years, your project can only fit in one category, so the most you can get is 50.
  • Projects for both acquisition and development are awarded extra points for:
  • Never having received a Natural Resources Trust Fund grant
  • Having a formal recreation department or parks commission or committee
  • Being located within a core city, or a metropolitan statistical area (an inner ring city) or a micropolitan statistical area (most of these are small cities in otherwise rural areas)
  • No charging of entrance fees to recreational facilities or at least providing a waiver for low-income visitors or having another mode of entry (bike or walk) in which the visitor is not charged a fee
  • For urban projects: the site sits on a public transportation route
  • Having greater financial need, i.e., jurisdictions in upper 1/3 of median household income get no points, middle 1/3 of median household income gets ½ the points and lowest 1/3 of median household income gets full points
  • Presenting a plan for how the public will be made aware of the project
Points for match will be awarded based on ability to pay. Proposals from jurisdictions that are in the bottom 1/3 of median household income will receive some points for match contribution of higher than 25% and the highest points possible for a match of 50% or greater. Middle 1/3 of median household income receive some points (not as many) for match of higher than 25% and only 2/3 of the points possible for a match of 50% or greater. The top 1/3 of median household income communities do not receive points until they match at 30% or greater and only receive ½ the points possible for a match of 50% or greater. There was discussion (proposed by MTGA) about possibly having a sliding scale whereby all communities are able to gain the full points possible, but the board decided to wait a year and see how the new change works out. For acquisition projects, extra points are awarded for:
  • Being part of a green infrastructure plan for the community, region, or ecoregion
  • Fee simple purchases rather than easements
For development projects, extra points are awarded for:
  • Use of environmentally friendly materials and innovative technology
  • Plans for addressing potential crime issues
  • Renovation projects that are not needed as a result of inadequate maintenance
  • Demonstrating the incorporation of universal design to accommodate persons with disabilities
Also in the new process will be a provision for small grant awards both for acquisition (possibly $500,000 total) and development (possibly $250,000 total). Included in the original proposal was the elimination of the August 1 second application deadline for last minute submittals. In response to quite a bit of opposition (MTGA included) to the 2nd deadline elimination, the board voted to keep it intact for this year. Next year, there may be a shifting of points to reward those who submit at the 1st deadline so as to lessen the pressure on grants management staff who have been receiving an increasing number of applications at the 2nd deadline. Overall, I think trails are still well-positioned to receive funding from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, and this year, especially in the urban areas. That is, of course, the Legislature decides to tamper with it. WE understand there was a senate joint resolution introduced today by Senator Sheltrown that would open up the constitution to amend the Trust Fund! See Michigan DNR These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid Go To for all the news See Get Off The Couch

Sutton's Bay Ice Rink In Great Condition

Sutton's Bay Ice Rink
Jeff Dailey of Suttons Bay Township and his son Jackson skate (photo from the Leelanau News)
based on a news article of the Leelanau News, "Smooth skating," by Eric Carlson, Feb 1, 2009

The Sutton's Bay ice rink at Broadway and Lincoln Streets is in the best condition anyone has seen in years. Jeff Dailey laced up his skates, took a spin, and came back impressed.

“Whoever is taking care of the ice rink this winter is doing a really beautiful job,” said Dailey as the Suttons Bay Township father was spending a little time last week showing his 5-year-old son, Jackson, how to slap a hockey puck around.

The property is owned by Suttons Bay Township. Except for the winter months it is the site of a weekly farmer’s market.

The unseasonably low temperatures are creating good ice conditions at many outdoor rinks. But local volunteers Chris Gauden and municipal workers have been paying special attention to the Sutton's Bay rink. Local hockey enthusiasts asked the township to ready the "ice rink park" as soon as possible this year. Gauden said that he would help with maintenance.

The township partnered with the Village of Suttons Bay’s Department of Public Works to flood the park using water from fire hydrants, and plow snow from the rink as necessary, using the village’s plow trucks. Gauden says, "I love to see it get used and have enjoyed it myself more than once ... I love to skate with the kids! I wouldn’t have enjoyed the success I have had if it weren’t for the help of many other people, including students at Suttons Bay Schools. It’s good to get such a cross section of our community involved.” Leelanau Township reports better-than-usual success this year with its rink at Braman Hill Park. There is also a rink at Hancock Park, and an area of South Bar Lake in Empire Township is kept clear for skating. Ongoing snow removal is often the most time consuming and labor intensive task.

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Izaak Walton Celebrates 40 Years of "Save Our Streams"

Pere Marquette River at Walhalla Bridge
Pere Marquette River below Walhalla Bridge (photo by J Young)
a news release of Izaak Walton League

Please join us as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Save Our Streams (SOS) program. With the creation of SOS, the League pioneered citizen-based stream monitoring in 1969, and gave people everywhere a simple, reliable tool to assess and protect the streams where they live. Over the past 40 years, volunteers have spent countless hours analyzing water quality and developing solutions that protect our waters.

In addition to celebrating this rich history of accomplishments, we will spend 2009 highlighting the conservation work of League members and other volunteers all across the country. Over the next 12 months, the League will provide materials and support for your stream conservation events. Please visit this site frequently for more information. Coming soon: project ideas, commemorative items, and media outreach to help you celebrate the anniversary.

Citizen involvement in watershed protection and conservation activities has proven to have measurable, positive results on the quality of our nation's waters. Today, more than ever, citizen involvement is critical to the protection and restoration of America's waters. Recognizing the importance of the work you do, we provide tools and resources to help you conserve local waterways.

Search the web site to find the tools you need to become active in the fight for the conservation of America's waters. If you still have questions give us a call at 1-800-BUG-IWLA. Staff is generally available from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST to offer you consultation over the phone, assist you in research, or help to connect you with another organization currently working on a similar issue. If no one is available, simply leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us by email at for the same free services.

See Izaak Walton League - National
See Izaak Walton League - Michigan
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Preview the Grand Vision

Grand Vision banner

a news release of The Grand Vision

It's time for you to be one of the first to get a sneak preview of the Grand Vision draft.

Leaders of the Grand Vision are inviting area residents to look over and comment on the first draft of the project's 50 year, citizen-based, regional land use and transportation plan on February 4 from 3:00-7:30 PM at the Hagerty Center - 715 E. Front St. - on Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Campus, in Traverse City.

There will be formal 15 minute presentations by the consultants at 4:15, 5:15 and 6:15 followed by question and answer periods. There will also be tables that you may join designed for discussions of specific issues such as housing and transportation.

Additionally - The first draft of the "Grand Vision" will also be unveiled in Antrim, Wexford, Benzie, Kalkaska and Leelanau Counties prior to their February planning commission meetings. Those presentations, and opportunities for comments and questions from the public, are scheduled as follows:
  • Tuesday, February 3, 6 PM - Antrim County Building
  • Wednesday, February 11, 6 PM - Wexford County Lake Street Building
  • Thursday, February 12, 6 PM - Benzie County Government Building (lower level)
  • Wednesday, February 18, 6 PM - Kalkaska County Building (the Grand Vision presentation will be on the Planning Commission's agenda)
  • Tuesday, February 24, 7 PM - Leelanau County Government Center - presentation will be on the Planning Commission agenda.

In addition to unveiling the Grand Vision, you are also being invited to submit your opinions and feedback on the first draft of the Grand Vision. Forms to do so will be available at the open house, at the county meetings, and online.

See The Grand Vision
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ski Deaths in Michigan Very Few

based on a news article in the On the Snow Newsletter, "Girl's Ski Slope Death One Of Very Few In Michigan," by Mike Terrell, Jan 16, 2009

Although it is always a tragedy when someone dies skiing, very few such deaths occur each year. Mark Doman, a member of the Michigan Ski Safety Board, says that there has been an average of two per year over the past three years. That matches the national rate, Doman confirmed. There were three ski related accidental deaths three years ago, one during the 2006/2007 season, and two last year.

The National Ski Areas Association statistics show that skiing and snowboarding related deaths are much lower than for other activities such as swimming and bicycling. Snowmobile accidents are much higher. Each winter 20-30 people die from a snowmobiling related accident in Michigan alone.

See Indiana Girl Dies in Ski Accident at Treetops
See Norton Shores Teen Dies in UP Skiing Accident
See Grand Rapids Skier Dies on the Trail
See 28 Year Old Man Dies in Snowboarding Accident on Mt. Hood
See Canton Township Girl Dies in Ski Accident at Schuss Mountain
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Should Paddlers Pay More Fees?

canoes on river
canoeing is popular in Michigan in the summer (photo by A. Addington)
comments on a news article in the Grand Rapids Press

Buried in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources strategic plan for state parks, Howard Myerson of the Grand Rapids Press uncovered an alarming suggestion. The state is considering requiring registration of all boats, including canoes, kayaks, etc, and charging additional launch fees such as those required for power boats.

Myerson writes:
 "'We're nowhere near any kind of quid quo pro,' said Harold Herta, the operations chief for Michigan State Parks. 'This is only an idea. We are going to look around the country to see who has done what and what their experience has been.' Ron Olsen, the chief of state parks, recently said the rationale for registration is that paddlers play for free. They use DNR launch sites but don't pay anything for upkeep and maintenance like boaters who register their boats. He hoped to capitalize on the two-decade-old paddlesport boom."

Myerson makes a strong case for paddlers already paying their own way through taxes and fees.

He concludes:
 "The canoe and kayak registration idea, so far, is just that. An idea. It is a long way from becoming a formal proposal. It would require an act of the legislature to make it happen. But it is not too early for paddlers to think about what is involved. Nor is it too early for the DNR to treat the paddling community as valued natural resource stakeholder. That's different from ignoring it until the agency needs more money."

Read the full article Michigan DNR needs to better service paddlers, by Howard Myerson, Jan 31, 2009
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ludington Pair Camped in Big Snow

based on a news article in the Ludington Daily News, "Local pair were tent camping through snowstorm," by Brian Mulherin, Jan 24, 2009

Two weekends ago, when Ludington was the hub of a storm that dumped 18 inches of snow on the area, most people were huddled in their houses. Tim Martin and Mark Thompson skied past the Big Sable lighthouse into the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness and camped in a tent.

They've been doing it for 20 years! They've learned a lot and have a system that works. Martin said, "winter camping is about being prepared." They hauled the gear in on a sled. Warmth for the trips relies heavily on Gore-Tex and goose down. During the day the men stay warm by skiing or cutting firewood. "It's those midnight trips to go to the bathroom that are the worst," Martin added.

The guys were discussing the snow prediction, and thought that it was for about three inches. But once it started it just didn't stop. When they woke up Sunday morning there was so much snow on the tent that it felt like someone was pushing on the tent. And they could still hear more snow falling on the rain fly. Looking outside, it was like they had never been there. All signs of their activity were buried.

One challenging task was finding firewood because they only take wood that is already down. It was hard to find enough under the snow. But the really hard part was the ski out from their campsite. The trip normally takes an hour, but with the deep, soft snow it took over three hours. They began at 3 pm, and didn't reach their vehicle until 6:30 pm. The men said they had no trouble finding their way, even though it was slightly after dark when they finished.

Plans are already in the works to take some friends winter camping who haven't done it before. For that expedition they plan to use the Ludington State Park Campsite.

Martin's final word to the wise: "It's important to have the right gear."

See Nordhouse Dunes
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