UP North! - A mentality, not a destination

Faces of The North


A brief encounter with the woman who help build Frankenmuth, Dorothy Zehnder

The Great Unknown


Become a Lighthouse Keeper at Tawas Point

Get your Up North On!


Go get that Up North feeling with unique events and experiences 

DNR Fishing Report


From the Au Sable, to the Grand River, Lake Michigan to Lake St. Clair we have the best secrets on all your favorite waterways

Faces of the North


"The Wise Woman who helped Build Frankenmuth"

There are names in this part of Michigan that are nearly as famous as any other in Michigan’s history. There are two name names in particular that resonate amongst the people visiting Frankemuth this time of season; Bronner and  Zehnder. Perhaps not as known nationally as the Ford’s, Chrysler’s or Olds, but here towards the north these are the titans that transformed sleepy little Frankenmuth, MI into the global tourist destination it is today. Tonight I met of them.

My family was on our annual Christmas trip to Frankenmuth and we were perusing the downstairs shops in the basement of the Bavarian Inn. As you’d imagine it was packed - as there are three millions visitors to Frankenmuth annually, and most come this time year. My family had gathered up for a pretzel making class at the Inn, and before we began I made a split moment decision to follow my son through the crowded vestibules as he wandered off to shop without us. I turned the corner and there sitting at a table 97 year old Mrs. Dorothy  Zehnder. She was decked out in a festive holiday Bavarian style smock and was doing a book signing for her cookbooks.

Dorothy was Tiny  Zehnder's wife and is matriarch of the fabled  Zehnder's Bavarian Inn hotel, restaurant and shops. Her husband William, brother in law Eddie  Zehnder, and friend Wally Bronner are the three men credited with transforming Frankenmuth into the international destination it has become. The Zehnder's name is synonymous in Michigan with Christmas. Dorothy Zehnder is an iconic Michigander and here we crossed paths by happen chance! She was signing her cookbooks today as she often does, and I knew the moment I saw her I wanted to talk. I waited impatiently in the signing line and when it was my turn, I politely introduced myself. There were three versions of her cookbook in front of us and she proudly declared they were on sale for $19.21 - because 1921 was the year she was born! I bravely asked her for a short interview while she signed my book. She graciously accepted. Out of respect for time, I only asked her two questions...

The first “What would you tell a newly married couple starting their own holiday traditions”; and secondly “What do you think of when you hear the word Christmas?”

Her answers were patient, thoughtful, and reflective. As she spoke to me, the people around us were silent as if the audience was careful to absorb her every word. When she finished with the interview, she slipped a card into my cookbook, just as she had done with everyone before me and after.

Of the new couples she urged that “First of all they have to get along with each other. If they have any dispute during the day, before you go to bed at night stop and settle your disputes. My husband I were married for 72 years, and of course we had our ups and downs at times because we all worked together at the restaurant here. But before we’d go to bed we’d settle our disputes.”

Of her Christmas celebrations she answered “Of course the Lord Jesus first. Then our family. We celebrate Christmas always on the 24th and to us it’s very important. Of course when you’re in business you also have to take care of your business, but we always set aside our Christmas Eve – that’s when our Christmas was together.”

I looked at the card she was putting into the cookbooks and it her contact card just in case "...if you needed anything or had any questions about any of the recipes.”

What a notion. Imagine for a moment if every cookbook author did that? We parted ways shortly after but she wished me a very Merry Christmas, just as she has done in one form or another millions of times to the people who visit Frankenmuth for the holiday. A very Merry Christmas indeed from her family to ours, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.


The Great Unknown

Enjoy a historic summer as a Tawas Point Lighthouse keeper; apply by Feb. 1


In operation since 1876, Tawas Point Lighthouse is a fascinating attraction for maritime buffs. Tawas Point is a destination for birdwatchers; it also offers spectacular views of sunrises over Lake Huron and sunsets over Tawas Bay. The Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program is now accepting applications for keepers for May 1 through Oct. 29. Those selected will get to live in the restored keeper’s quarters at the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse, located in Tawas Point State Park off Tawas Bay in Lake Huron.

Each participant pays a $75 per-person fee and provides roughly 35 hours of service each week in and around the historic lighthouse that attracts visitors from all over the world.

Keeper duties include greeting visitors, giving tours, providing information about the lighthouse and routine cleaning and maintenance. Keepers stay in the second story of the keeper's quarters attached to the lighthouse. Accommodations include two bedrooms sleeping up to four adults, a modern kitchen, bath and laundry. Keepers must commit to a two-week stay at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse keeper program looks for teams of two, three or four adults – especially those with knowledge of lighthouse lore or Great Lakes maritime history – but there is no requirement for such a background. Prospective keepers should be physically able to climb up and down the 85 lighthouse stairs and have excellent customer service and public speaking skills.

The application and additional information are available at the Lighthouse Keeper Program webpage. For more information, contact dnr-tawaskeepers@michigan.gov. The application period is open through Feb. 1


Get your UP North On

Reflections on 2018

For the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 2018 has been busy. The DNR, with the help of many partners, has made great strides in its ongoing efforts to take care of the state’s natural and cultural resources and provide outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities.

Here are a few highlights of how the DNR spent 2018.

Providing quality outdoor recreation opportunities

The DNR continued its work to ensure excellent opportunities for hunting and fishing, both of which contribute billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year. Fourteen state-record fish have been caught in Michigan in the last 10 years, pointing to the abundance and health of our fish populations. The DNR stocks more than 25 million fish each year, in more than 1,000 locations across both peninsulas. Forty percent of all recreational fishing in Michigan depends on stocked fish.

In 2018, the DNR expanded the recently created Fishing Tournament Information System – a statewide, online registration and reporting tool that makes it easier for tournament managers to meet the requirement of having all bass fishing tournaments registered – to include all bass and walleye tournaments. To date, the system has received more than 2,000 bass tournament registrations and results reports. The DNR is continually improving habitat on the 4.5 million acres of public hunting land it manages. Hunters can explore seven managed waterfowl areas, 19 grouse enhanced management sites (known as GEMS) that allow walk-in hunting, and more than 180 state game and wildlife areas. These locations also offer abundant wildlife watching opportunities.

So far this year, hunters have contributed almost $200,000 to wildlife management by purchasing Pure Michigan Hunt applications that give them a shot at a prize package valued at over $4,000, as well as licenses for elk, bear, spring and fall turkey and antlerless deer, and first pick at a managed waterfowl area. The application period ends at midnight Dec. 31. 

Michigan’s 103 state parks continue to provide the scenic spaces, natural resources and access to outdoor recreation opportunities that attract tens of millions of people every year. 

With 12,500-plus miles of state-designated trails and pathways – one of the largest, interconnected trail systems in the country – Michigan is known as The Trails State. This trails system offers plenty of social, economic and health benefits, catering to a variety of users, including bicyclists, hikers, ORV riders, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers, horseback riders, paddlers and others. 

The system also includes the Iron Belle Trail, Michigan’s signature hiking and biking trail extending more than 2,000 miles from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit.

There was renewed interest sparked in 2018 in the Iron Belle Trail Fund Campaign, marked by an event in Ann Arbor where more than $10.5 million in private donations was announced. 

“Quality outdoor recreation resources and opportunities mean a lot to the people who use and value them, and to the communities they serve,” DNR Director Keith Creagh said. “The Iron Belle Trail offers so many beautiful places where people make memories, improve their health, and recharge their energy. The state and our many partners are on an ambitious timeline to get the remainder of these connected miles in place.”

To date, the DNR and partners have built and engineered more than 100 miles of new trail to complete completed the Iron Belle Trail’s 1,422 miles of existing hiking and biking trails, with just over 600 remaining to be connected. In October 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced a $100 million investment of parks and trails in Southeast Michigan, including segments of the Iron Belle Trail. With the creation of a new State Water Trails program, the DNR announced this month that eight waterways, totaling 540-plus miles flowing through more than a dozen counties, have been selected as the first state-designated water trails in Michigan. 

DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said that water trails are an increasing trend in Michigan and nationally, as interest in paddle sports and other water-based recreation continues to grow. Water trails feature well-developed access points, often are near significant historical, environmental or cultural points of interest and often have nearby amenities like restaurants, hotels and campgrounds.

“These state-designated water trails will encourage close-to-home outdoor recreation and healthy lifestyles while boosting local economies, giving even more reason to call Michigan The Trails State,” said Paul Yauk, the DNR’s state trails coordinator. The DNR’s staffed shooting ranges, located in southern Michigan state parks and game areas, made improvements to accommodate a growing number of shooting sports enthusiasts. Updates this year included expanding parking, adding new handgun shooting stations and installing a well to provide potable water, with construction of new accessible parking and walkways planned at three ranges in 2019.

Looking to get outdoors in 2019? Check out michigan.gov/dnrcalendar.

Taking care of Michigan’s woods, waters and wildlife

The “Good Neighbor Authority” allows state natural resource agencies to assist the U.S. Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Land Management on timber and watershed restoration projects across the country. In 2018, the DNR increased its Good Neighbor Authority efforts from the previous year, preparing 2,400 acres for timber sale and producing 38,500 cords of wood from the four national forests in Michigan – the Huron and Manistee national forests in the Lower Peninsula and the Ottawa and Hiawatha in the Upper Peninsula.

This state/federal partnership will grow to more than 7,500 acres in 2019.

In 2018, oversight of the state’s Registered Forester program transferred to the DNR from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The move was part of a restructuring process for this voluntary program that encourages higher standards for Michigan’s foresters. Changes to the program include an up-to-date online database and a new complaint review process.

“The new program is the ideal source for landowners to find highly qualified foresters to help them manage their forest land,” said Deb Begalle, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. 

Nearly two-thirds of Michigan’s 20 million acres of forest are privately owned; the state manages an estimated 4 million acres of public forest.  The DNR also manages 360,000 acres of state game areas. At game areas throughout Michigan, DNR staffers have been harvesting timber to create early successional forest habitat.

The selective cutting of mature pine and aspen stands encourages the growth of young forests, which provide vital habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock, deer, elk and golden-winged warblers. 

“This important work may look destructive while in progress, but the result is outstanding habitat for many game and non-game wildlife species,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. Late in 2018, in partnership with Pheasants Forever and the Hal and Jean Glassen Foundation, the DNR launched its new Adopt-A-Game-Area program, which encourages individuals and organizations to sponsor grassland habitat projects on state-managed lands they use and value. “Grasslands give important benefits to both wildlife and people. In addition to providing habitat and food resources for many wildlife species, grasslands also improve water and air quality,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. 

Stewart said grassland pollinators, like bees and monarch butterflies, help to generate crops that keep the country fed. Throughout Michigan, many grasslands are being converted to agriculture and development. Grasslands now are one of the rarest habitat types in the world.

Expanded support of this program, through sponsorships, will provide valuable nesting, brood-rearing, foraging and winter habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, rabbits, songbirds and pollinators.

This year, the DNR has been intensely focused on mitigating impacts from chronic wasting disease on Michigan’s white-tailed deer population. This fatal disease has been found in free-ranging deer in Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, and Montcalm counties.  Following public engagement meetings and surveys, hunting regulations were changed for the 2018 deer hunting seasons to address concerns of CWD. The DNR also provided additional staffed deer check locations as well as drop boxes for hunters to submit their harvested deer for testing. More than 30,000 deer were checked and tested this year. 

The coming year will see continued efforts to maintain the health of Michigan’s deer herd. For the latest information and updates on chronic wasting disease, visit michigan.gov/cwd.

The DNR also keeps a close eye on the health of Michigan’s fish, working continuously with Michigan State University’s Aquatic Animal Health Lab to be at forefront of disease identification, but also regularly analyzing groups of wild fish to test for diseases and performing fish health inspections at state hatcheries and on hatchery-reared fish.

In 2018, the DNR’s Office of the Great Lakes completed restoration of historical environmental impacts on the Menominee River, started the Saginaw Bay Fish Reef restoration project and made strides in implementing goals established in the Michigan Water Strategy. The OGL staff also worked in communities to protect coastal resources, helped establish an alliance of Great Lakes island communities and facilitated the development of shared harbor visions in waterfront communities. 

As it has each year since its introduction in 2014, the Invasive Species Grant Programimplemented by the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources – provided roughly $3.6 million in 2018 for projects designed to prevent, detect, eradicate and control invasive pests on the land and in the water. Because of this grant program, more than 285,000 acres of land and water have been surveyed for invasive species; more than 18,000 acres have been treated for invasive terrestrial and aquatic plants; and millions of people have been reached with educational information about invasive species.

“It’s clear that Michigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program is accomplishing many of the goals set for the program at the very start,” said Creagh. “The fight to stop, contain and eradicate invasive species from Michigan’s woods and water is critical to the long-term protection of these valuable natural resources, and this grant program is helping in that fight.”

Protecting the state’s natural resources and citizens

Located in every county of the state, Michigan conservation officers are first responders who provide lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. They are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by enforcing Michigan’s laws and regulations. “A conservation officer has chosen to not only protect our people and local communities as first responders – they have devoted their career to being front-line defenders of our natural resources,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.

As community first responders, several conservation officers were involved in lifesaving actions during 2018, including saving a woman from drowning, rescuing people involved in snowmobile and kayak accidents and those stranded in Lake Huron and on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. As a result, eight conservation officers received the Michigan DNR Lifesaving Award.

The DNR Conservation Officer Academy graduated 24 new conservation officers in 2018. The new officers were selected from nearly 500 applicants to be a part of Recruit School No. 9 – the DNR’s 23-week training academy based in Lansing. “Our division selects the most highly qualified candidates to receive additional training that no other law enforcement agency in the state offers,” Hagler said. “Our officers are molded into quality people who are embedded within the communities they serve.”

As Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency, the DNR Law Enforcement Division continues to expand its abilities to protect our natural resources. The 252 officers budgeted for the 2019 fiscal year is an all-time high.

Connecting people with the outdoors

Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, over 1,000 educators have received the DNR’s free wildlife curricula for their classrooms, information that helps give students an understanding of Michigan’s wildlife and their habitats. Kindergarten through high school educators can get these resources for use in the second half of the school year. Featured species include waterfowl, black bears and elk. 

The DNR recently – after two years of mapping and reviewing the condition of the state forest roads it maintains across both peninsulas – completed an initial inventory used to create interactive maps showing where ORV use is allowed on these roads. The maps will be available online at michigan.gov/forestroads and updated each spring. 

Look for an early 2019 “Showcasing the DNR” story detailing the efforts to map state forest roads, a resource to help people get out and enjoy Michigan’s public forests. The DNR’s work in providing GIS products and services gained national recognition at the annual Esri User Conference, when the department earned a Special Achievement in GIS Award for its innovative application of mapping, data analytics and thought leadership.

“Within the past 20 years, the DNR has implemented an enterprise GIS system to support the growing needs and challenges of caring for Michigan’s natural resources and connecting the public to those resources,” said Dave Forstat, DNR GIS manager and chief data steward. “As web GIS has become more prevalent, we’ve leveraged the benefits of increased communication and data accuracy to provide customers with the best possible data on trails, water, minerals, trees, wildlife, fish and other areas.”

This includes online tools – like the Open Data Portal, interactive maps, story maps and customized apps – aimed at connecting outdoor enthusiasts and natural resources professionals with the information they need. This is just a brief glimpse of a year in the life of the DNR. More information about the department’s broad range of work to ensure healthy natural resources and outdoor recreation is available on the DNR website, redesigned in 2018 to make it easier to use, at michigan.gov/dnr.


Michigan DNR State Fishing Reports

Fishing Tips!


Tricks and cheats to help land the big ones..or the little ones - they count too!

Southeast Lower Peninsula


Lake Erie, Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, Lex/Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach, Port Austin, Saginaw Bay and the Saginaw River

Southwest Lower Peninsula


St. Joseph, South Haven, Black River, Kalamazoo River, Grand Haven, Grand River at Grand Rapids, Grand River at Lansing, Murray Lake, Muskegon, Muskegon River, Whitehall, White Lake, White River

North East Lower Peninsula


Cheboygan River, Ocqueoc River, Rogers City, Alpena, Thunder Bay River, Black River, Harrisville, Oscada, Au Sable River, Ogemaw County, Houghton Lake, and Tawas

Northwest Lower Peninsula


Petosky, Bear River, Traverse City, Frankfort, Portage Lake, Lake Missaukee, Manistee, Manistee River, Ludington, Pere Marquette River, Pentwater, and Pentwater Lake.

Upper Peninsula


Lac Vieux Desert, Marquette, Little Bay De Noc, Big Bay De Noc, Au Train, Munising,  Raber Bay, Drummond Island, Cedarville and Hessel

Fishing Tips!


Fishing Tip: Relax while ice fishing by using tip-ups

Tip-ups are a perfect technique to use for the entire ice fishing season in Michigan. This method allows anglers to sit back and relax, yet still experience the thrill of the catch!

Early in the season stick by shallow structures where species like northern pike and walleye will congregate. Try a variety of depths to figure out where they’re targeting exactly. However, if you are walleye fishing, the minnow should be hung 12 to 15 inches off the bottom. For pike the minnow should be hung three to seven feet off the bottom or just above the top of any vertical aquatic plants. The minnows should be hung in these positions for walleye and pike regardless of the over water depth.

Tip-ups become even more productive later in the season as less-aggressive fish are drawn to your presentation. For more information on fishing during Michigan’s winter, visit Michigan.gov/fishing.

Free Fishing Weekend 2/16 - 2/17

The 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend – February 16 & 17 – provides a perfect time to get more individuals and families out trying the sport of ice fishing. As part of this weekend, all fishing license fees are waived for the two days with residents and out-of-state visitors allowed to enjoy fishing on all waters for all species during their respective open seasons. Please note all regulations still apply during that time.

To encourage involvement in the 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend, organized activities are often offered in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by constituent groups, schools, parks (local/state), businesses and others. Will you be joining them and planning an event?

We’ve compiled numerous resources to help you plan and execute an event in your community. Simply visit Michigan.gov/freefishing and look through the Free Fishing Weekend Event Planning e-Toolkit.


Southeast Lower Peninsula


Lake Erie: Had some skim ice along the shoreline. Boat anglers trolling crank baits were still getting a few walleye in Brest Bay.

Detroit River: Anglers were getting a few more perch but were still sorting out the small ones. Fish were caught around Grosse Ile as well as in the canals and marinas. The occasional crappie was also caught. Bluegills were hitting on spikes and wax worms. Boat anglers were getting a few walleye in the lower Trenton Channel.

Lake St. Clair: Has skim ice only in the canals and marinas. There is no fishable ice. The boat launches are open however there has been very little fishing activity.

Saginaw Bay: Boat anglers fishing for walleye reported slow to fair catch rates however a few that put in a whole day did manage to get up to five fish. Boats were launching from Patterson Road. A few perch anglers were out fishing in shallow waters only between Quanicassee and Fish Point. Any ice anglers should use caution and stay in shallow waters only.

Saginaw River: Boat anglers reported slow to fair walleye fishing at best. There have been no tag returns from caught walleye which indicates slow catch rates, or the fish caught were sub-legal.


Southwest Lower Peninsula

Overall: Ice conditions were still not safe in Southwest Michigan. Most lakes had open water for the most part. The only fishing activity has been steelhead anglers targeting the rivers.

St. Joseph River: The steelhead bite improved with the warmer weather. Those fishing during the cold spells were targeting the deeper holes.

Kalamazoo River: Steelhead fishing improved during the warm up however the return of cold air will once again slow the bite. Most were still targeting fish up near the Allegan Dam.

Grand River at Grand Rapids: Continues to produce steelhead especially during the warm up. Anglers were drifting and floating spawn, beads and flies.

Muskegon River: Continues to produce some steelhead both in the shallows and the deeper holes. The water had a slight stain after the snow melt so flashy patterns seem to work best.

Muskegon Lake: Anglers caught a few walleye when casting rapalas.


Northeast Lower Peninsula


Higgins Lake: The only ice was some skim ice on the northeast side. The rest of the lake is open water where anglers could still find some rainbow trout off the North State Park. This would be a good time to replace old line, sharpen hooks, and oil those reels so they are ready to go.

Houghton Lake: Anglers are advised to stay off the ice near Flint Road. There is open water in the middle of East Bay however both the north and the south end of the bay had ice anglers. Anglers were walking out from the south launch, the west launch and off the campground on the north end of the lake. Pike are hitting tip-ups with golden shiners. The best walleye bite was an hour before sunset. Anglers are using spoons tipped with minnows. Hot colors were orange, chartreuse and nickel blue. Panfish were hitting jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes. Hot colors were pink, purple and wonder-bread.


Northwest Lower Peninsula

Overall: Anglers are fishing smaller lakes for the most part. Caution should still be used with above-average temperatures this week. Rivers in the area continue to produce steelhead along with the occasional coho salmon.

Antrim County: The small lakes were producing some good panfish action. Most fish were caught right on the bottom in 10 to 12 feet.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Anglers are ice fishing on both however travel on the ice was by foot only, no machines were out there so the ice can’t be all that good yet.

Manistee River: Anglers continue to catch some good size steelhead right along with a few coho. Spawn, beads and flies were the ticket.

Little Manistee River: Anglers are reminded that the Little Manistee will close to fishing on January 1 and will not re-open until April 1.

Pere Marquette River: Those fly casting picked up a few more fish this week.

Find out more

Upper Peninsula

Overall: The recent warm weather has made ice conditions unsafe in the west end of the Upper Peninsula. Just because you can see anglers out on the ice does not necessarily mean it is safe. The long-range forecast is predicting freezing daytime temperatures and single digits at night which should provide angling opportunities over the holidays. On the east end, anglers on the inland lakes near Newberry are finding panfish. The lakes south of Munising are providing walleye, pike and panfish. There is snow pack in the northern sections.

Manistique Lakes: Ice anglers have found walleye, northern pike and panfish.

Two Hearted River: Has been quiet with no reports. Anglers should be able to find a couple steelhead in the lower river.