Spawning closures and sturgeon regulations are among many items up for information at this month’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC)

The meeting will take place on August 8th at the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at 4125 Beaumont Rd., Lansing, MI 48910. If you are unable to attend but would like to watch, check out the MUCC Facebook page! A full agenda for the day can be found here.

The day will begin at 8 a.m. with the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee (MSPAC). The agenda includes updates on the management plan for Maybury State Park, information about Amendment No. 8 to establish hunting & trapping at Watkins Lake State Park, recognizing Jim Hendricks and chief updates. To finish up the first committee meeting of the day, the MSPAC will be given updates by the finance subcommittee and the stewardship subcommittee. 

At 10 a.m., the NRC Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries will come to order. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter will give an update on fisheries regulations. Next, MDNR Wildlife Chief Russ Mason will give an update on West Nile Virus in grouse. 

At 11 a.m., the NRC will have a closed session with the Attorney General for legal guidance. 

The NRC committee of the whole will come to order at 1:30 p.m. To start the meeting, MDNR Director Dan Eichinger will give his report. It will include the following: 

  • Presenting the LED Lifesaving award, the PRD Lifesaving Award and the Partners in Conservation award. 
  • CWD communications 
  • Bear Patch recognition
  • An Update on MUCC’s convention given by Executive Director, Amy Trotter. 
  • Antler Point Restrictions/Chronic Wasting Disease update

Eichinger’s report will finish with legislative and committee reports.  

For Information:

Hunting and Trapping at Watkins Lake State Park & County preserve 

The department designated Watkins Lake State Park & County preserve as the 103rd state park. When the department purchased the property using the Michigan Resources Trust Fund, it was made clear during planning that hunting and trapping were intended recreational activities. Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 8 of 2019 will allow hunting & trapping during established seasons at Watkins Lake State Park & County preserve.  

Spawning Closures –Fisheries Order (FO) 204.20

Under fisheries order 204.20, the department proposes making the Otsego Lake Pike March spawning closure date more specific by changing it to March 16-June 15. The department also proposes removing the spawning closure for the Cheboygan River. It was recently added with the intent to protect migrating walleye however, order 204.20 is not intended to be species-specific. To continue protecting walleye migration, the possession season regulation will be moved from this order (Fisheries Order – 204), to FO-206. 

Designated Trout Streams in Michigan –Fisheries Order 210.20

The department recommends modifying the downstream boundary for the Upper South Branch of the Thunder Bay River in Montmorency County, which will extend the regulations an addition 3 and a half miles. Currently, the downstream boundary is known as section 14. If the boundary was moved downstream it would be in the fletcher floodwaters and would be easier for anglers and law enforcement to identify. 

Secondly, the department recommends adding the name Hutton Creek in parenthesis after the listing of the East Branch of the South Branch of the Waiska river. In the Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer map book, the area on the Waiska river is listed as Hutton Creek yet, the Michigan County Map Guide published by MUCC, has the area printed as East Branch of the South Branch. The different names in the books has caused confusion among anglers about this trout stream. 

Sturgeon regulations –Fisheries Order 240.19

The department recommends adding two catch-and-immediate-release (CIS) fishing opportunities for anglers at the St. Marys river in Chippewa county and all waters of Portage and Torch Lake in Houghton county. These changes would re-open fishing opportunities for lake sturgeon at both locations that previously had CIS lake sturgeon fishing practices prior to April of 2018.

Director–Action:

Transfer of Jurisdiction of Craig Lake State Park 

The Forest Resource Division and the Parks and Recreation division would transfer acres of land between themselves. The 798.96 acres from the Forest Resource Division would be transferred to the Parks and Recreation division and become part of Craig Lake State Park. While 840 acres from the Parks and Recreation division would be transferred to the Forest Resource division. This transfer was up for action at last month’s NRC meeting but the director decided to analyze the topic for another month due to concerns of a citizen. 

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