This spring and summer, as part of its Explore Michigan’s Wetland Wonders campaign, the Department of Natural Resources is challenging outdoor enthusiasts to discover everything the state’s seven Wetland Wonders have to offer and learn about these unique habitats and the wildlife that inhabit them.
Michigan’s Wetland Wonders Challenge II will provide participants a chance to observe coots, peepers, darners and other critters that depend on the state’s wetlands and to enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation experiences.
Michigan’s Wetland Wonders are the seven premier managed waterfowl areas in the state: Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County), Fish Point State Wildlife Area (Tuscola County), St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island (St. Clair County), Muskegon County Wastewater Facility (Muskegon County), Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area (Bay County), Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe and Wayne counties) and Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County). These areas, scattered across the southern Lower Peninsula, were created in the 1960s to provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities, and are still managed today to provide waterfowl habitat for nesting and migration and for the benefit of other wetland wildlife. Since the beginning, the areas have been funded by hunting license fees and area use fees, but they are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.
From March through August, these sites will host Wetland Wonders Challenge II events where visitors can explore and learn.
“This challenge invites the public to explore the managed waterfowl areas during the spring and summer to experience great wildlife viewing, hiking, kayaking, birding, fishing and other outdoor adventures,” said Barbara Avers, DNR waterfowl and wetlands specialist. “If you haven’t visited one these areas before, the Wetland Wonders II events are the perfect chance to discover these unique and vital habitats.”
Avers added that other exciting opportunities for participants will be announced soon.
The Wetland Wonders Challenge kicks off with birding events at Pointe Mouillee, Fish Point and St. Clair Flats.
Pointe Mouillee State Game Area Auto Tour – March 23:
Meet at the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area Office (37205 Mouillee Road Route 2, Rockwood) at 9 a.m. for a driving tour of the game area. The tour will visit areas that the public is usually not allowed to drive, and DNR biologists will provide a history of the game area. Experienced birders from the Detroit Audubon Society will be present to help visitors find and identify the diversity of songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors migrating through the game area.
Fish Point State Wildlife Area Spring Migration Tour – March 23:
Come to the Fish Point State Wildlife Area Office (7750 Ringle Road, Unionville) between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a chance to see the spectacle of tundra swans during migration. The swans stop in Saginaw Bay every year on the path between their wintering grounds and breeding grounds, and may gather in flocks of several thousand birds to feed and rest. DNR biologists will point visitors to the best swan-watching sites. A tour will be leaving from the Fish Point office at 1 p.m. to visit a nearby lakeplain prairie ecosystem to view migrating songbirds coming through the Saginaw Bay area, and stops will be made around Wildfowl Bay for additional swan-viewing opportunities.
St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area Auto Tour – March 30:
Join staff from the St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area and members of the Blue Water Audubon Society for a guided auto tour of the marshes on Harsens Island. Meet at the wildlife area office (1803 Krispin Road, Harsens Island) at 8 a.m. for a chance to learn about the history of the area and how the DNR maintains and improves the area for migratory birds while driving through this unique Great Lakes habitat.
Additional Wetland Wonders Challenge II events will take place throughout the spring and summer. For more information, please visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders. Visit often, as new information will be posted as events are finalized.
The Wetland Wonders Challenge II events help to promote the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy (MWL) and the “Year of the Duck.” The MWL is a 10-year, cooperative partnership to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan’s waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl hunting community. Throughout the year, numerous waterfowl- and wetland-related events will be held. For more information about MWL, please visit www.michigan.gov/mwl.
Logo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources