Michigan to hold first teal hunting season in nearly 50 years

The experimental teal season can be a good time to get youth out hunting while the weather is still warm. Photo: Dave Kenyon | Michigan DNR

The experimental teal season can be a good time to get youth out hunting while the weather is still warm and when they are readily supervised. . Photo: Dave Kenyon | Michigan DNR

By Howard Meyerson

Waterfowl hunters have a unique opportunity for some fast-action shooting come September when Michigan holds its first early teal season after nearly 50 years.

The seven-day, experimental season runs September 1-7. It was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a three-year trial after agency staff completed a teal “harvest assessment” that showed the population could withstand additional hunting pressure. FWS is the federal agency that establishes the legal framework for hunting waterfowl each year.

“Teal populations have been going up continentally” said Barb Avers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources waterfowl program specialist. “It’s taken a long time to get this to happen. It’s something that has been discussed at the (Mississippi) flyway level for many years. Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa are going ahead with it. Minnesota opted not to this year. Our decision to go ahead is in response to hunters on the Citizens Waterfowl Advisory Committee who have asked why we can’t have one.”

Teal are one of nation’s more abundant waterfowl species, according to the FWS. Its 2014 survey of blue-winged teal breeding across North American prairies estimates the continental population at 8.5 million, similar to 2013 and 75 percent higher than the long-term average. Green-winged teal numbered 3.4 million, similar to last year and 69 percent above the long-term average.

But the success of Michigan’s experimental season will depend on hunters shooting the right ducks. Only teal can be harvested – along with Canada geese. The early season for Canada geese also opens statewide on September 1. Continue reading

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Lake Michigan water trail moving forward; Michigan playing catch-up

A paddler enjoys exploring the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline by kayak, part of what will become the Lake Michigan Water Trail. Photo: Howard Meyerson.

A paddler enjoys exploring the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline by kayak, part of what will become the Lake Michigan Water Trail. Photo: Howard Meyerson.

By Howard Meyerson

The prospect of paddling Lake Michigan’s 1,600 mile shoreline isn’t something most take lightly though it’s been done in recent years by two young women in a dugout canoe. In 2012, Mary Catterlin and Amy Lukas, both 24-year-olds from Indiana, completed a three-month circumnavigation in the 11-foot, outrigger and sail-equipped dugout Catterlin crafted in her parent’s backyard.

Their accomplishment was a testament to their determination and self-assurance. It also illustrated the possibilities ahead for paddlers all around the four-state Lake Michigan Water Trail now being developed.

State and federal officials and local planning agencies are working to bring the trail to fruition. They report that parts of the trail are now in place, but a good deal of work is still ahead.

“A lot of people have asked to be kept in the loop, but we haven’t had people say they will do it. The challenge is finding local champions who can pull funding and planning together for things like signage,” said Elaine Sterrett Isley, director of water programs for West Michigan Environmental Action Council, in Grand Rapids. The organization recently completed a year-long study of the shoreline segment from Benton Harbor to Ludington.

That step – making it happen on the ground – is needed for the trail to become a household term and a marketable tourist destination, according to various planners.

“You can do the whole thing if you want to, but the trail doesn’t (formally) exist because the access points and amenities are not in place,” explains Diane Banta, a National Park Service outdoor recreation planner in Chicago. Banta coordinates the four-state NPS effort on Lake Michigan that may result in National Water Trail designation for the route – the prestigious federal imprimatur that recognizes “exemplary trails of regional and local significance.”

“One paddler from Illinois did the whole lake, but he had a lot of research to do before he went,” Banta said. “You need to know where you can take off, where you can land, and where you can camp.” Continue reading

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Third Rescue at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Log Slide within Two Weeks

The steep Log Slide at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore takes only 5 minutes to get down but an hour to climb back up. Photo: PRNL.

The steep Log Slide at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore takes only 5 minutes to get down but an hour to climb back up. Photo: PRNL.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore staffers report a 62-year-old woman had to be rescued Thursday from the steep, sandy Log Slide found along the park’s Lake Superior shoreline. The log slide is a popular tourist attraction where visitors can climb down to the water and back up to the overlook. The trip down is five minutes. The trip back up can be an hour, according to park staff.

“This is the third rescue of this nature that Rangers and local rescue personnel have responded to in the last two weeks,” reported park Ranger Bill Smith, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The woman hiker experienced weakness and exhaustion, according to Smith. She was transported by boat to Grand Marais Harbor where she was treated and released. Lakeshore staff are encouraging vacationing visitors to be cautious if they start down the appealing drop to the water.

“Better yet, enjoy the view from the top of the Log Slide,” Smith said.

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Wild State Parks: Lake Huron shoreline parks offer natural abundance

Thompson's Harbor State Park has miles of undeveloped Lake Huron shoreline. Photo: Howard Meyerson.

Thompson’s Harbor State Park has miles of undeveloped Lake Huron shoreline. Photo: Howard Meyerson.

By Howard Meyerson

ROGERS CITY – It was mid-afternoon when I kicked off my boots and sat down on a bench at the edge of a cobblestone beach along Lake Huron. A short rest was in order before finishing the hike. Waves lapped gently on the rocky shoreline and the seagull cries carried inland on the freshening breeze.

I hadn’t seen a soul on the trail. Nearly two and a half hours had elapsed since I parked my car in the empty lot and set out on a five-mile exploratory hike at Thompson’s Harbor State Park, one of Michigan’s newer, but undeveloped parks, a 5,300 acre mecca for nature lovers.

Daisies, Queen Ann’s lace, black-eyed Susan’s and wood lilies were among the wildflowers in bloom. Birds were flitting from tree to tree. I had walked out to a beach and then followed the trail network inland, through cedar and conifer forests, along a cobblestone shoreline, into wild-feeling woods and out to the shoreline again.

Many know about Michigan’s wilder state parks like Porcupine Mountains and Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula, or Wilderness State Park just west of Mackinac City. Far fewer know of Thompson’s Harbor, Negwegon or Rockport state parks along Michigan’s northeast Lake Huron shoreline, an area where the Michigan DNR is working with a variety of partners to create a different state park experience. Continue reading

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Program shift will reduce forest acres hunters can access

By Howard Meyerson

Grand Rapids, Mich — Hunters will have access to fewer privately owned acres of forest come 2015, the result of lands being transferred from the Michigan DNR Commercial75350c6076dd58f3e9acdc1bc36799b6 Forest Program to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Qualified Forest Program. That loss of several thousand acres open to the public for hunting and fishing is less than was expected, according to state officials.

“We are looking at maybe 10,000 acres (out of 2.2 million acres of private, commercial forest land open to the pubic) going in one year’s time,” said Shirley Businski, commercial forest program leader for the DNR. “We anticipated about 50,000 acres, which is a significant amount, but (still) isn’t a mass exodus.”

Commercial forest owners are making the shift for several reasons, first and foremost because Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill in June this year that extends the deadline to Sept. 1, 2015 for transferring the land without financial penalty. Continue reading

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The classiest bicycle ever made

Originally posted on Bicycle Trax:

1939 Hawthorne Zep - Source: ebay.com

1939 Hawthorne Zep – Source: ebay.com

There have been many impressive bicycle designs throughout the velo era. Style, charm, artistry, utility, comfort, and form are each factors which determine whether a particular model will capture the buying public’s imagination. To this avid cyclist, the bicycle that captured both the fun and the shear elegance of non-competitive cycling more than any other bike was the Hawthorne Zep (short for Zeppelin) of the mid-to-late 1930s.

HawthorneRollfast

1937 Hawthorne Zep – Source: bicyclebill.com/Bikecomppages/Hawthorne.html

Hawthorne Bicycles were built by both Cleveland Welding and Rollfast (H.P. Snyder) and were sold at Montgomery Ward department stores from the mid-1930s until 1960. From 1936 to 1939, the chain carried an exclusive version of the Zep (see photos above) which was the epitome of the art deco era on two wheels. Clean lines, graceful curves, distinctive features, and pure panache all make the Hawthorne Zep a masterpiece of art, design, and…

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Pigeon River trout stream to thrive with removal of yoga camp dam

Waters downstream from the dam will run cooler, benefiting trout once this dam is removed. Photos courtesy of Huron Pines.

Waters downstream from the dam will run cooler, benefiting trout once this dam is removed. Photos Huron Pines.

By Howard Meyerson

It’s taken three dam mishaps and several years of legal wrangling for good sense to finally prevail about the Song of the Morning Ranch/ Lansing Club dam on the Pigeon River, a state designated Wild-Scenic River and one Michigan’s finer blue-ribbon trout streams which runs through Otsego and Cheboygan counties.

The dam there will be coming out, perhaps next year, and the pond behind it is being drawn down in preparation for that momentous event. I am glad to see progress being made. The Pigeon River and its fisheries have suffered far too much insult because of the dam.

You may have read last April that a settlement was hammered out between the state and Golden Lotus Inc., which operates the Song of the Morning Ranch, the yoga camp at the dam site. Golden Lotus was fined $120,000 for mitigation of the effects of its most recent 2008 silt spill from the dam, a catastrophic event that killed an estimated 450,000 trout. The agreement calls for a permanent draw down of pond waters behind it. That process got underway in late May.

A collaborative agreement on restoration of the river, between Golden Lotus Inc., Trout Unlimited and the Pigeon River Country Association also calls for deconstruction and removal of the dam and the building a bridge over the river, Phase II of the project.

“The plan is to slowly draw the impoundment down through this summer and fall,” explains Lisha Ramsdell, the Phase II project manager with Huron Pines, a conservation and resource development non-profit in Gaylord that was contracted to be the Phase II project leader. It will manage dam removal and construction of the bridge.

“We’ll be working through the winter to get a permit and construction contractor and get them lined up for dam removal in 2015 ideally,” Ramsdell said. Continue reading

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1000 + Fishing Trips: Montague angler unlocks White River secrets

Cliff Minton holds up a sign telling friends he is making his 1000th fishing trip on the Lower White River. Photo:  Photo Bill Bishop.

Cliff Minton holds up a sign telling friends he is making his 1000th fishing trip on the Lower White River. Photo: Photo Bill Bishop.

By Howard Meyerson

To look the state’s list of Master Angler entries for the White River in Muskegon County one gets the impression the river is filled with redhorse, white suckers and carp. Only three salmon or steelheads were listed in the last 20 years and two of those were caught in 1994, an inauspicious depiction of what anglers can expect.

But, Cliff Minton knows far better than most that the White River can be an exceptional place to catch big fish. The 75-year-old Montague angler celebrated his 1000th fishing outing there last fall – on October 25th to be precise. That’s the day he landed a nice 8-pound steelhead, one of countless big salmon and steelhead he has hooked over the years on the quiet and winding river he knows like the back of his hand.

“I thought of the fish caught and fish lost; men who no longer fished the river over those 40 years…the fishless days, the fish a-plenty days and big fish days,” Minton wrote about that day in a chapter of a book he hopes to publish sometime called “The White; A River of Memories.”

Minton fishes the White every chance he gets. It is close to the home he shares with his wife, Mary. He may launch his 12-foot aluminum boat and visit dozens of holes he knows intimately. Or, he may hop in his “fish truck” and go for a drive, then don a pair of waders and set off cross-country in search of the upper river’s Holy Grail brook trout and brown trout waters.

“I am on my third boat and fourth motor on the lower White,” Minton shared. “It’s a dandy river and I do catch northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass there, but those are incidental to the trout and salmon I catch.” Continue reading

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DNR’s Lake Huron Atlantic salmon slow to show

A student at Lake Superior State University's aquatic research facility holds up an adult Atlantic salmon that was raised there. Photo: Dave Kenyon, MDNR.

A student at Lake Superior State University’s aquatic research facility holds up an adult Atlantic salmon that was raised there. Photo: Dave Kenyon, MDNR.

By Howard Meyerson

Michigan’s experiment with stocking Atlantic salmon in Lake Huron has yet to produce the results that anglers had hoped for this summer, but state fisheries managers say they aren’t worried. The Lake Huron Atlantic salmon program is its relative infancy,

“Our program is still young,” said Todd Grischke, Michigan DNR’s Lake Huron Basin coordinator. “It’s true we haven’t seen many (of ours) show up in the fishery, but we hope to see them this fall. We’re in our second year of full-production stocking and we have one year of stocked fish we expect to start showing up. The next milestone comes this fall when some should return (to spawn) on two tributaries.”

Approximately 100,000 hatchery-raised Atlantics salmon were stocked by the DNR in 2013. Another 130,000 were stocked this year. Those fish, marked with adipose fin clips, were released at four Lake Huron sites: St. Mary’s River, Thunder Bay River, AuSable River and the port of Lexington. Grischke and others think Atlantics can help fill the void created in 2004 when the Lake Huron chinook salmon fishery crashed. Continue reading

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West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance: 60 Miles of Local Trails, From Riders For Riders

An area rider enjoys the 9-mile trail at Kent County's Luton Park, built by West Michigan  Mountain Biking Alliance members. Photo: Howard Meyerson

An area rider enjoys the 9-mile trail at Kent County’s Luton Park, built by West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance members. Photo: Howard Meyerson

Grand Rapids is known for a lot of things: good beer, a spectacular downtown arts festival and great fishing on area rivers, among other things. But, what isn’t known is that West Michigan mountain bikers are turning the region into a mountain biking haven. A mountain biking group, called West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance, is responsible for that growth. Its members are out building trails.

My latest story for the city of Grand Rapids blog, called Experience GR, lays out what area riders are doing for other riders on their own accord and with financial help from local foundations and businesses.  Eleven mountain biking trails totaling 60 miles have been built so far. Read more at: West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance: 60 Miles of Local Trails, From Riders For Riders.

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