News, notes and stories from Michigan's DNR
Stories from business side of the State
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Consider home delivery service for your Holiday Products this year.
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LANSING, MICH. – Following the announcement of the state’s first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are providing recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“I urge all Michiganders to take these recommendations seriously and to share them with their friends, families, and coworkers,” said Governor Whitmer. “It’s on all of us to be safe and be smart for ourselves, our loved ones, our coworkers, and the public at large. We are encouraging schools, universities, businesses, and other organizations to use their best judgment about what steps are most appropriate to keep people safe and slow the spread of the disease.”
Community mitigation strategies are designed to be implemented at the individual, organizational, and community levels. They apply to businesses, workplaces, schools, community organizations, health care institutions, and individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and health profiles; everyone has an important role to play. These strategies provide essential protections to individuals at risk of severe illness and to health care and other critical infrastructure workforces.
“Michiganders have been preparing for COVID-19 for weeks, including by taking basic measures such as washing their hands often, covering their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when they are sick,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “However, Michigan must take further action to avoid a rapid increase of cases in the state. Community mitigation strategies are crucial to slowing the transmission of the virus in Michigan, particularly before a vaccine or treatment becomes available.”
To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, following are some of the mitigation strategies are being recommended. Additional recommendations are included in the attached document.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ (MI) bipartisan legislation to expand apprenticeship opportunities for veterans is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law, after passing the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously today. The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act – which Peters introduced with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) – previously passed the U.S. Senate. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) championed the legislation in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow more veterans to use their GI bill benefits toward securing a registered apprenticeship. In Michigan alone, only a few hundred of the 1,000 registered apprenticeships listed as active by the Department of Labor (DOL) have been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Peters also partnered with Rick Donovan, a Michigan veteran in Oakland County and State Legislative Officer for the Polish Legion of American Veterans Department of Michigan, on this bipartisan bill after Donovan reached out to Peters to discuss the lack of apprenticeships that qualify under GI Bill benefits.
“Returning servicemembers should have every opportunity to gain access to the programs that can help them use their unique skillsets to earn good-paying jobs,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This commonsense measure would allow more of our nation’s returning heroes to use the benefits they have earned to secure quality apprenticeships, and I look forward to this bipartisan bill getting signed into law.”
"When we make the decision to send men and women to fight for our country, we make the decision to support them for the rest of their lives -- that means veterans should have every opportunity to enroll in an apprenticeship that connects them to good-paying jobs, and have expenses covered by their GI benefits,” Slotkin said. “This bill came straight from concerns raised by Michigan veterans — that only a small fraction of apprenticeship programs certified by the Department of Labor would accept GI benefits, and that too often veterans aren’t even aware their GI benefits can go toward high-skills training programs. Today, we're passing legislation that closes those gaps and makes our system work better for veterans. Senator Peters has championed this legislation in the Senate, and I couldn't be more proud to have supported his efforts to push it through the finish line in the House and to the President's desk."
“For our men and women in uniform to successfully transition into civilian life, they need to know all the opportunities available to them through apprenticeships,” Senator Capito said. “Expanding access to these work training programs will better prepare our veterans for their future careers. I’m grateful to Senator Peters for his bipartisan support, and I’m thrilled President Trump will be signing the bill into law soon.”
“Twenty six years ago I was able to use my Montgomery GI Bill to enter a registered apprenticeship and become a union sheet metal worker. In using my GI Bill to enter this apprenticeship I was able to receive a U.S. Department of Labor certificate for completion of apprenticeship. This certificate not only provided me opportunity and employment with a meaningful wage and other benefits – but a chance to use this training along with my military training to further my education,” said Rick Donovan, a veteran from Oakland County and State Legislative Officer, Polish Legion of American Veterans Department of Michigan.
“With this bill going to the President’s desk to be signed into law, more veterans will know about apprenticeship opportunities and be able to fill good-paying jobs in not only my example of the union building trades such as Helmets to Hardhats, but in other fields: from health care to IT and beyond. I want to thank Senator Gary Peters and Representative Elissa Slotkin for moving this bill through Congress and for their leadership on this bill. They both saw how expanding opportunities for veterans to use their various forms of the GI Bill, by having more employers available to apply to and access their earned benefits would help veterans in obtaining meaningful employment across all sectors of our economy. To see a new law that could go into effect, after approaching lawmakers in my hometown who saw the potential of an idea – and then see how this idea gained bipartisan support – has been an incredible experience. I look forward to this bill helping more veterans to succeed after their service to our country.”
The bipartisan bill would take three commonsense steps to expand opportunities for veterans to use financial assistance in connection with a quality apprenticeship program:
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) today joined the National Council for Behavioral Health to push for the passage of their bipartisan bill, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act, which renews and expands funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). The Senators also announced data from a new report outlining the success of these clinics across the country.
The report, authored by the National Council for Behavioral Health, shows that CCBHCs are increasing access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment that is making a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals and communities across the country. For example, in the first year of operations, 93% of CCBHCs provided staff training in suicide prevention and response, 87% reported an increased number of patients served, and 94% reported an increase in the number of patients treated for addiction.
“It is time to act. Mental illness and drug addiction affect about one in five people in our country. Today’s report is clear—these clinics are delivering treatment and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Congress needs to work together and take the next step by expanding these highly successful services to people in communities across our country,” said Senator Stabenow.
"Nearly one in five Americans suffers from a mental or behavioral health issue that is diagnosable and almost always treatable, but only a fraction receives the care they need," said Senator Blunt. "The National Council's new report shows that the Excellence in Mental Health Act has had a substantial impact in bridging the gap and improving access to care. As one of the pilot states participating in the Excellence program, CCBHCs in Missouri have helped people get treatment faster and closer to home, provided new tools to law enforcement and brought us closer to our goal of treating mental and behavioral health like all other health. Given the demonstrated success of the Excellence program so far, now is the time to keep building on the progress that's been made by extending and expanding funding for CCBHCs."
“Neglecting to expand the CCBHC program would devastate our nation. These clinics play such a vital role in mental health and addictions care to the most vulnerable people in our communities,” National Council for Behavioral Health President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia said. “We are grateful for the work of Sens. Stabenow and Blunt and many others who want to bring the benefits of CCBHCs to more people in more states and communities while allowing those currently served by a CCBHC to continue receiving the treatment they depend on through the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act. As Senator Stabenow says, ‘It’s time to act.’”
Mental illness and substance use affect about one in five people in our country. Only 12% of Americans struggling with addiction receive treatment in any given year, and only 43% of people with mental illness receive the care they need. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for ages 10-34, and drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on final passage of U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin’s (MI-08) bipartisan War Powers Resolution today, sending it to the President’s desk for signature. The House’s vote today approves a Senate version (S.J.Res.68), of Slotkin’s War Powers resolution (H.Con.Res.83), which passed the House on January 9 with bipartisan support. Now that the House and Senate have approved a single version, the legislation will move to the President’s desk for signature.
The resolution requires any President to seek the Authorization for Use of Military Force from Congress before taking the country into a protracted war with Iran. It does not limit the President’s power to use force in self defense. Slotkin is a former CIA analyst and Shia militia expert who served three tours in Iraq focusing on Iranian-backed militias, and as a senior Pentagon official focused on the region.
“Today we took a final vote in the House to pass the bipartisan War Powers Resolution, which passed the Senate on February 13,” Slotkin said. “This is the Senate version of the War Powers Resolution I sponsored, and that passed the House on January 9. The next stop is the President’s desk.”
“This resolution simply re-states what is already required by law: any President must get authorization from Congress before taking us into protracted war. It states this while also making clear that the Administration always retains the right to act in self defense for ourselves or our allies. Regardless of whether or not the President vetoes this legislation, I’m proud that we will have achieved our core aim in introducing the War Powers Resolution: we have started a conversation, between both parties and in the House and the Senate, on Congress’ constitutional role in sending our troops into harm’s way.
“As an Army wife with a step-daughter and son-in-law currently on active duty, I feel strongly Congress has long abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to debate the most serious decision we can make. For the better part of the past 20 years, the parties have shied away from a fulsome debate about the use of force. In passing this bipartisan War Powers Resolution, we reclaim that authority. And the fact that this resolution has passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate shows that both Republicans and Democrats are ready to do so.”
“We've been at war for two decades but only twice in that time has Congress actually debated legislation on the authorization of the use of military force that was sent to the President’s desk. In the past two months, Congress has spent nearly 10 hours on a long-overdue, bipartisan, public debate about the authorization for the use of military force, and as an Army mom I’ll take that as better than nothing.”
“I do not believe the President wants war in the Middle East. I therefore urge him to heed the bipartisan message we are sending in this resolution. We owe it to our military –– and to ourselves as a nation –– to provide our troops clarity and unity on when we do or do not want them sent into war.”
Something sweet is happening in Michigan’s forests, and Craig Kasmer, a park interpreter at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, is right in the thick of it. Many of the state’s maple trees are getting ready to share the rich sap that will flavor syrup, candy, popcorn and other tasty treats. Kasmer runs the maple syrup making education program at Hartwick Pines, and he knows pretty much every step of the sap-to-syrup process – including much of the history.
“Collecting sap in the spring is something Michigan's First Peoples did before European settlers began arriving. The early pioneers learned it from them, adapting the process using new tools and technology,” Kasmer said. “Cheaper cane sugar and molasses from southern U.S. states and the Caribbean became available here in the early 1900s, replacing the use of maple syrup.”
But Kasmer said there’s nothing like fresh, Michigan maple syrup. In the northern Lower Peninsula, maple syrup season typically begins in March and the time frame can last about four to five weeks, though it varies every year due to weather.
So, how does it work?
“Trees store sap – the ‘life blood’ of the tree, rich in nutrients that trigger leaf production – in their root system over the winter. When temps start to get above freezing, the sap starts working its way up the tree,” Kasmer said. “The best days to collect sap are when daytime temperatures are in the high 30s or 40s and then below freezing at night.”
Kasmer said all trees produce sap, but the trees in the maple family have the highest sugar content. In Michigan, the most commonly tapped trees are the sugar maple and red maple, but other maples like silver maple, mountain maple and box elder can be tapped as well. That lineup consistently keeps Michigan among the top 10 maple syrup-producing states in the country.
Once a tree’s buds start to swell, eventually producing leaves, the sap gets bitter (commonly called “buddy sap”); when that happens, maple syrup season is over.
The process from tap to table requires patience. From collecting, filtering and boiling to straining, finishing and, yes, burning – Kasmer joked that you’re not a real syrup maker until you’ve burned your first batch! – does take a bit of time, but the result is well worth it. If you’d like to see this mouthwatering Michigan tradition in action, two of the best opportunities are coming up:
Questions? Contact Craig Kasmer at 989-348-2537.
Sizing up smelt this season? Wondering where the walleye are? Curious about coho? If you’re interested in talking with DNR fisheries staff about local and statewide issues important to you and your community, stop by one of the upcoming “Conversations & Coffee” events around the state in March, April and May.
The DNR hosts these outings to give people an opportunity to meet with state fisheries managers and biologists, discuss local issues and management activities and ask questions. To encourage conversation, the meetings are very informal; at many, no formal presentations are planned. Refreshments will be provided.
These forums also are great opportunities to catch up on local and statewide fishing regulation changes that affect anglers. The schedule includes the following dates and locations: March 23 (Elmira), March 25 (Beulah), March 30 (Iron Mountain), March 31 (Newberry and Waterford), April 2 (Munising), April 6 (Sault Ste. Marie), April 14 (Ironwood), April 15 (Grandville and Ishpeming) and April 16 (Coldwater and Houghton), plus a May 7 virtual meeting covering the northern and southern Lake Huron management units.
If you're searching for signs of spring, how about a birding trail program in Woodhaven, a black tern nest platform-building workshop in Harrison Township or a guided bird walk at Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve in Harvey? These are just a few of the upcoming MI Birds events on the calendar; all are sure to leave you with great information and tips for learning even more about our feathered friends.
Michigan’s birds are some of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures to observe outdoors. With the MI Birds program, residents easily can get involved in local events like bird talks, bird walks, volunteer stewardship days or community science programs.
Founded by Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR, MI Birds seeks to deepen all Michiganders’ engagement in the understanding, care and stewardship of public lands important for birds and local communities. Keep up with all things MI Birds by following the group's Facebook or Twitter or visiting GL.Audubon.org/MIBirds. Questions? Contact Erin Rowan at 313-820-0809.