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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Union Gorge Falls

For some reason this post went to May 26th when I published it this morning. Not sure what I did, but I will try not to do it again!

Union Gorge Waterfalls

Union River Waterfalls, photo by David Clark

Every time I think I know every waterfall in Michigan, one more comes a long. Great Lakes Waterfall Adventures shares that Little Union Gorge Falls is:

Located inside an outpost campground off of South Boundary Rd. in the beautiful Porcupine Mountains State Park, the Union Gorge Falls slide shallow water over a 100 plus foot drop in a forested setting. It is a short hike to reach the start of the falls, and the trail follows the river bank for a quarter mile, intersecting several times with the Union Mine Interpretive Trail. Several sections of 10-25 feet highlight the area, thin water most of the year, most likely the best time to visit is in the spring.

…The first long drop has a small, three foot deep pool below it, adding to the calm of the area.

View the photo background bigtacular, see more in his Waterfalls slideshow, and check out David’s blog for a report with more from the Porcupine Mountains!

Hammock with a view at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

View from my hammock Hoffmaster State Park

View from my hammock, photo by Bailiwick Studios

The photographer says that the outlet of Little Black Creek was the view from his hammock at Hoffmaster State Park near Muskegon. Not too shabby!

The Gillette Nature Center’s page on P.J. Hoffmaster State Park says (in part):

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park was established in the 1960s in honor of Percy James Hoffmaster, the longest acting Director of Conservation and the first chief of state parks in Michigan. The park encompasses 1200 acres, including 3 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, and represents one of the finest examples of high relief, parabolic dunes and forested backdunes on the Great Lakes. The undisturbed quality of the habitat makes the park a refuge for 460 species of plants, nearly 90 species of birds and a rich array of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Hoffmaster is home to several listed species of plants, reptiles and birds.

The park’s pristine sandy beach is often described in magazines and travel guides as one of the wildest and most scenic beaches in Michigan.

…The park’s ten miles of trails and diversity of birds provides a birding experience unparalleled in the region, especially in the spring at the peak of migration. The park’s 293 site campground provides the opportunity for an overnight stay, and the surrounding landscape abounds with outdoor adventure for overnight or day visitors alike.

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in Bailwick Studios’ slideshow.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Warren Dunes, Michigan’s Most Popular State Park

Warren Dunes State Park Sawyer Michigan

Warren Dunes State Park, Sawyer Michigan, photo by Charles Edward Miller

Beautiful scene earlier in November at Warren Dunes State Park in southwest Michigan, just north of the state line. The History of Sawyer from HarborCountry.org explains:

Edward K. Warren, of Three Oaks, was a pioneering conservationist. Long before he acquired his enormous wealth, Warren bought 300 acres of woodland in an effort to preserve a forest primeval. Wildlife abounds around the trails, which meander through Warren Woods that remains undisturbed and a natural treasure. Not surprisingly, Warren Woods can be found Warren Woods Road between Three Oaks and Lakeside. Warren Dunes State Park is a 1500-acre preserve located on Red Arrow Highway between Sawyer and Bridgman. Warren bought this land at the turn of the century again with conservation as his goal. Although most in the area saw the land as worthless, Warren wanted to preserve the majestic dunes that soar to more than 240 feet. The Park has a pristine two-mile beach as well as wildflowers and mature forests. Over a million people visit Warren Dunes annually [the state’s most popular park].

View Charles’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his massive Warren Dunes State Park Sawyer Michigan slideshow.

More about Warren Dunes and more dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Better Know a Michigan State Park: Port Crescent State Park edition

Port Crescent State Park

Port Crescent State Park, Michigan, photo by Zack Schindler

The Michigan DNR says that Port Crescent State Park:

…is located at the tip of Michigan’s “thumb” along three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Some of the modern campsites offer a waterfront view, either of the Bay or the Old Pinnebog River channel. Port Crescent recently added a new camper cabin which sleeps six and has a scenic view of Saginaw Bay. A wooden boardwalk parallels the day-use shoreline offering many scenic vistas of Saginaw Bay. The park also offers excellent fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting opportunities.

And see the map and book campsites here.

View Zack’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Fuji X-series slideshow.

More state parks and more incredible Michigan wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Quiet water of the Presque Isle River

Presque-Isle-in-the-Porkies

Quiet water of the Presque Isle River. Porcupine Wilderness State Park, photo by Linda Carter

The Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park is the area of Michigan where I haven’t yet visited that I’m most fascinated with. One of the cool things for me about putting Michigan in Pictures together is learning new things about places, and Linda’s photo showed me something new about the Park! She writes:

The Presque Isle River (French explorers named it for the little island at the mouth of the river) is the largest and most dangerous flow through the Porcupine Mountains. The 3 waterfalls near its mouth are some of the most scenic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The river forks at the end as it flows to Lake Superior. This picture is the right side, which is quiet and peaceful.

View her photo bigger and see more (including some of those waterfalls) in her Porkies slideshow.

Pure Michigan vs Pure Greed at Hartwick Pines

Hartwick Pines by Jenny Murray

Untitled, photo by Jenny Murray

Hartwick Pines State Park – which is in my opinion one of Michigan’s coolest parks – would be opened to slant drilling if the proposal by oil & gas interests on the table is accepted by the DNR. Bridge Magazine has a feature titled Oil lease proposed under 400-year-old virgin pines that begins:

About 9,700 acres of Hartwick Pines State Park and surrounding land near Grayling are on a list of parcels nominated by oil and gas companies for lease of mineral rights. The lease of those parcels, which include the largest remaining old growth white pine trees south of the Mackinac Bridge as well as the rest of one of Michigan’s most popular parks, is likely to be included in a Department of Natural Resources auction Oct. 29.

No development would be allowed on the ground surface. But the leases open the possibility of slant or horizontal drilling under trees that have grown since the first Europeans stepped foot in the region.
While mineral exploration deep below the surface isn’t likely to harm the trees, the possibility of drilling raises concerns about the boom of oil rigs at a beloved state park, and is symbolic of the occasional tension in the state between business interests and Pure Michigan.

“There are some special places in the state that oil and gas development should not be happening,” said Jack Schmitt, deputy director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters. “And Hartwick Pines is one of them.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is accepting public comments on its decision to lease mineral rights in Hartwick Pines State Park through September 5th.

The Michigan LCV has established a petition if you want to weigh in. They note that Hartwick Pines is home to some of the few forests that were protected from Michigan’s logging boom and holds the largest contiguous stand of old-growth white pine in the Lower Peninsula. The park is also home to the East Branch of the legendary Au Sable River, a blue-ribbon trout stream.

Thanks to Jenny for bringing this to my attention. View her photo bigger and see more of her diptychs right here.