Michigan State Parks announce Covid-19 policy changes

Dune Climbers by Bill Dolak

Dune Climbers by Bill Dolak

The Michigan DNR has announced that although state parks and recreation areas remain open to provide residents with local opportunities to get outdoors, extensive travel should be minimal & effective social distancing is required so that unsafe conditions do not develop and state-managed lands can remain open.

“We are doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff at state parks and recreation areas,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “No matter how people are choosing to get outdoors, it is critical that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines. If they don’t, we will be forced to close public access to all state-managed lands.”

Closures and reduction in services include

Many park amenities have been closed in order to minimize the chance of people gathering in groups and/or maximize the environment for effective social distancing. Current closures include, but are not limited to, concessions, playgrounds and play equipment, viewing platforms, fishing piers, GaGa ball bits, volleyball and basketball courts, designated dog areas, disc golf courses, radio-controlled flying fields, pump tracks, and picnic tables and shelters.

All bathroom buildings and vault toilets will be closed in all state parks and recreation areas, including those at campgrounds, boating access sites, trailheads at state-designated trails, etc. People are encouraged to plan accordingly to avoid needing a restroom during a visit. Note: Over the next few days, vault toilets will be closing. Many locations, where available, will be transitioning to portable toilets that will be cleaned by local vendors.

There will be minimal trash service available. Visitors are encouraged to bring trash bags, if needed, to carry trash home and minimize litter.

No hand washing stations will be provided. Please carry hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes containing at least 60% alcohol, as well as trash bags to carry out used wipes.

Additionally, grooming of snowmobile trails (the season closes March 31) and grooming, brushing, grading and clearing of all nonmotorized trails and ORV trails are suspended until at least the end of the order. When out on any trail, be aware of surroundings, including the potential for washouts or debris. To report anything that could be a risk to other trail users, call 517-331-0111.

Follow the DNR’s COVID-19 response webpage for the latest closure information related to events, meetings and facilities, including campgrounds, harbors and other sites.

Bill took this photo last October at Van Buren State Park near South Haven. See many more incredible shots in his Drone the Sixth – DJI Phantom 4 Advanced album on Flickr!

See photos and read about many of Michigan’s state & national parks on Michigan in Pictures!

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New Wolves Released at Isle Royale

Little Hawk Island Sunset, photo by Carl TerHaar

mLive reports that a pair of new wolves have been released on Isle Royale in an effort to control a exploding moose population that threatens to overwhelm one of Michigan’s most unique ecosystems.

Late Wednesday, two gray wolves were taken from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in Minnesota and taken aboard a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plane to the island.

The wolves, a 4-year-old female and a 5-year-old male, were taken to separate release sites, and well away from the island’s two remaining wolves.

“It did not take long for the female to leave the crate and begin exploring her new home on the island. The male left his crate after dark,” the NPS said in a release.

“Other wolves will join the two in the coming weeks.”

Up to 30 wolves are expected to be caught in Minnesota, Michigan’s U.P. and even Ontario, Canada as part of this relocation effort.

Click through for more and their awesome video of the release!

Carl took this in late September of 2009. View it background big and see more in his massive Isle Royale album.

PS: Get an idea of the sheer amazingness of Isle Royale with 350+ more photos from Isle Royale in the Absolute Michigan group on Flickr at the Isle Royale tag on Michigan in Pictures, and at the  Isle Royale National Park website!

#TBT Miners Castle Loses a Turret

Freezing, photo by Lars Jensen

Here’s a throwback Thursday post with an article originally published April 14, 2006 on Absolute Michigan…

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore reports that one of the two turrets on Miner’s Castle is no more:

On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach.Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.

While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At least five major falls have occurred over the past dozen years: 1) two different portions of Grand Portal Point, 2) the eastern side of Indian Head just east of Grand Portal Point, 3) Miners Falls just below the (now modified) viewing platform, and 4) beneath the lip of Munising Falls (along the former trail that went behind the cascade).

All the rockfalls involved the same rock unit, the Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation. Rock units are named for places where they were first technically described. The Miners Castle Member consists of crumbly cross-bedded sandstone that is poorly cemented by secondary quartz, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Walter Loope.

More from Lars in his Michigan album.

Wearing o the Green (ice)

Icicles in cave – Grand Island Ice Curtains on Lake Superior, photo by Craig

Craig writes:

A little emerald green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Viewing this ice curtain from the inside at Grand Island near Munising Michigan, highlights the blue and teal hues that nature provides.

View the photo bigger and see more in Craig’s Grand Island Ice Curtains set.

The Facebook Thing…

Pictured Rocks by Tudor ap Mac

I wanted to make sure everyone was aware that I’m making periodic updates on the Michigan in Pictures Facebook.

View Tudor’s photo of the Petit Portal in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and a lot more including this stunning panorama in his Upper Peninsula album!

Textures of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Textures, photo by JamesEyeViewPhotography

View the photo from the Sleeping Bear Dunes background bigtacular, see more in James’ The Great Lakes slideshow, and follow James Eye View Photography on Facebook.

The Pink Sands of Sand Point

Pink Sand at Sand Point, photo courtesy Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore shared this photo yesterday saying:

Is this sand pink? Yes it Is! The pink sand on the beach can be found on the northeast corner of Sand Point at the very end of Sand Point Rd. The pink sand is actually garnet that has eroded from one of the sandstone layers of the Pictured Rock cliffs. The garnet then washed up at Sand Point and makes a unique pink sand beach.

View it bigger on Facebook, and visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for much more information on Sand Point and other amazing places in one of Michigan’s most amazing parks.

PS: Better follow PicturedRocksNL on Facebook too if you want to know about things like being able to watch a sunset from a lighthouse.