"Beyond Grattan Center"

April 4, 2017

DNR offers advice for those who find a feathered visitor nesting in their yard this spring

Michigan residents may get a surprise this spring in their gardens, flower boxes or even in the landscaping by their office buildings. Bird nests can be found in some unusual locations.

Ducks nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations that people may consider inappropriate. While finding a duck's nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern.

“She will be a very quiet neighbor, and with her cryptic coloration she may go largely unnoticed,” said Holly Vaughn, Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications coordinator. “Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.”

If she is successful and her eggs hatch, the mother duck will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water, often the day they hatch.

“Don't worry if you do not live near water, the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it,” said Vaughn.

The female mallard will sit on the nest for about a month prior to the eggs hatching. If the nest fails on its own – something that happens regularly – Vaughn advises to just wish her luck on her next attempt.

Canada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, often near water. Similar to mallards, Canada geese will lead their young to water soon after they hatch. Adult geese can be quite protective of their nests and their goslings and may chase people or pets away by hissing and running or flying toward the intruder. If possible, try to avoid the area. If this is not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away.

Those fortunate enough to have a bird's nest built in their yard, in a tree or on the ground may have noticed that the baby birds are starting to outgrow their nests. Baby birds learn to fly through trial and error. They may feel they are ready to fly, but their flight feathers might not have fully grown in yet. It is common to find baby birds on the ground after an attempt to fly. If this is the case, please do not touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.

Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it; however, if you move a baby bird, the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents.

In the event that you find a chick on the ground that is sparsely feathered, it may have accidentally fallen from the nest before it is ready to fledge (learn to fly). If you know where the nest is, you can put the chick back in the nest ONLY if you can do so safely.

Migratory birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and must be left alone. Unless you have a license, taking a baby bird or eggs from the wild is breaking the law.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including birds, in Michigan.

The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when it is obvious the parent is dead or the animal is injured. A licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Rehabilitators must adhere to the law, must have gone through training on proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals, and will work to return the animal to the wild, where it will have the best chance for survival.

A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting mi.gov/wildlife or by calling a local DNR office .

Goslings are a common sight in Michigan in the spring.

March 6, 2017

DNR says fish kills may be common during spring thaw

The Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that after the ice and snow cover melts on Michigan's lakes this early spring, it may be common to discover dead fish or other aquatic creatures. Winter conditions often can cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.

"Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill," said DNR Fisheries Division Hatchery Manager and fish health expert Martha Wolgamood. "As the season changes it can be common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. These kills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality."

Shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and soft bottoms are prone to this problem. Canals in urban areas also are quite susceptible due to the large inputs of nutrient run-off and pollution from roads and lawns and septic systems that flow into these areas, particularly from large storm events.

Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter, but may not be noticed until a month after the ice leaves the lake because the dead fish and other aquatic life temporarily are preserved by the cold water. Fish also may be affected by rapid changes in water temperature due to unseasonably warm temperatures leading to stress and sometimes mortality. This is likely the case with the record or near record temperatures coupled with the large rain events Michigan experienced in February 2017.

Fish can become easily stressed in winter due to low energy reserves because feeding is at a minimum in winter. They then are less able to handle low oxygen and temperatures swings.

Dissolved oxygen is required by fish and all other forms of aquatic life. Once daylight is greatly reduced by ice and snow cover, aquatic plants stop producing oxygen and many die. The bacteria that decompose organic materials on the bottom of the lake use the remaining oxygen in the water. Once the oxygen is reduced and other aquatic animals die and start decomposing, the rate that oxygen is used for decomposition is additionally increased and dissolved oxygen levels in the water decrease even more, leading to increasing winterkill.

For more information on fish kills in Michigan, visit the DNR's website . If you suspect a fish kill is caused by non-natural causes, call the nearest DNR office or Michigan's Pollution Emergency Alert System at 1-800-292-4706.

Killing off a wasp nest is tricky business. As many of us know, the occupants of these nests tend to resist any effort to kill them by stinging the daylights out of those attempting to do so. The wasps most problematic this time of year belong to the family Vespidae. Though many species of vespids lead a solitary lifestyle and rarely cause us problems, yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets and paper wasps are social insects that live in large colonies. They construct their nests in the ground, in trees, under eves and inside wall voids and attics. Nest construction starts in late spring and continues throughout the summer. The last brood raised includes males and next year's queens. Due to the importance of these reproductives, the worker wasps become very protective and aggressive toward those who venture too close to the nest this time of year.

In northern latitudes such as Michigan, social vespid nests are abandoned in the fall. After the new queens leave, all the workers eventually die due to starvation and cold weather. After mating, the queens seek protected sites in which to spend the winter; they are the only ones that survive the winter. The following spring, they emerge from their long winter's rest and search for a suitable nesting site and begin constructing new nests. Old nests are never reused, but a favorable nesting site may be selected year after year.

During August, the colony reaches its maximum size of worker wasps. The maximum size depends on the species: paper wasps may only produce a few dozen workers while colonies of yellow jackets may reach one or two thousand wasps. For those attempting to kill off a wasp nest, size certainly does matter.

Michigan State University Extension says another important consideration when contemplating whether to eliminate a wasp nest is its location. Nests located in out-of-the-way sites that are not likely to be disturbed can be ignored since they are going to die out later in the year. Small, exposed paper wasp nests are easily controlled by aerosol wasp sprays that produce a concentrated stream of juice that has a range of 15 to 20 feet. Paper wasps do not cover their nests in a papier-mache envelope like those of yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets, so their brood cells and workers are exposed and vulnerable. Simply point the nozzle at the nest, shoot and watch ‘em die.

The larger nests of yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets that are protected by a paper mache envelope are more challenging and best left to pest control professionals. But, if you are bound and determined to try yourself, then in addition to nest location, your speed and agility should be honestly evaluated. The slow and clumsy should seriously reconsider hiring a pest control company. No attempt should be made to kill a nest that is located high in the upper branches of a tree, especially if using ladder is required to reach the nest. For reasons that should be obvious, a nest full of angry wasps and a fool on a ladder is a potentially dangerous and life-threatening combination. If the nest is located close to the ground in a tree, shrub or on a building, then you may have a fighting chance to survive the experience.

It is very important that an escape route be planned and cleared of any obstacles before spraying the nest as one will need to quickly vacate the area after the spray is applied. If the nest is located in an area where there is lots of foot traffic, like next to a city sidewalk, then the area should be cordoned off and would-be passersby's should be redirected away from the area (though many may prefer to watch to see if you get stung or not).

Clothing should also be considered. Again, for reasons that should be obvious, shorts, tank tops and sandals should be exchanged for jeans, shoes and socks, a hooded sweatshirt, and possibly leather gloves. The best time of day is early morning when most of the wasps will be inside the nest and activity is at a minimum.

I recommend having two cans of aerosol wasp spray at the ready. The first stream of spray should be directed at the main opening at the bottom of the nest and keep spraying this opening for at least 10 seconds, then spray other openings that may be present on the sides of the nest. Spray the openings for as long as possible and then quickly leave the immediate area via the predetermined escape route. Watch the nest throughout the day. If activity persists, hit it again the next morning following the procedures outlined above. Once activity has tapered off and most of the wasps are killed, knock the nest down with a rake or other long-handle tool, break it apart and saturate the pieces with spray.

Include hunter education as part of back-to-school plans

Michigan parents of children interested in learning to hunt should consider enrollment in a hunter education class as part of their "back-to-school" plans. Now is the best time for new hunters to enroll in a class so they are ready to hit the woods this fall.

"Although classes are held year-round, April, May, August and September class opportunities are typically the most plentiful,” said Sgt. Steve Orange, Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement Section supervisor in the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “However, waiting until the last minute to enroll sometimes makes it difficult to find an available class.”

Sgt. Orange encouraged students to complete the course instruction no later than Oct. 1 so that instructors are available for the mandatory field day.

Michigan has three types of hunter education courses: traditional classroom, home-study and online. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, is required to successfully complete the course in order to purchase a Michigan hunting license or to participate in an out-of-state hunting trip. Exceptions are made for youths under the age of 10 who are hunting with a Mentored Youth Hunting license or hunters older than 10 who are hunting with an apprentice hunting license. New hunters can hunt under the apprentice program for two years before they are required to take a hunter education course.

The traditional classroom course is a minimum of 10 hours, typically held over two days, and includes both classroom and field work with an instructor. The fee for the class is $10 or less to cover expenses. The home-study course features a workbook to complete the class.

A field day is required with the home-study course, as it is with all hunter safety education courses, and it's recommended the field day be scheduled with an instructor prior to starting the course.

Michigan also offers three approved online hunter education courses, www.hunter-ed.com/Michigan, www.huntercourse.com, and www.hunteredcourse.com/state/michigan. Students who opt for the online course complete their classwork online and then have a field/skills day with an instructor and take a written exam. The field day must be scheduled with an instructor prior to starting the online course. The online courses have varying fees but all are priced under $25. There may be an additional cost of up to $10 for the field day.

For more information about hunter education or to find a class in your area, go to www.michigan.gov/huntereducation.

Help prevent the spread of oak wilt; don't move firewood

Now that the season has shifted to August – well past the “no pruning of oak” time of year (April 15 to July 15) – there still are steps residents can take to minimize the spread of the deadly oak wilt disease.

Notably, Michigan Department of Natural Resources forest health experts say not moving firewood is critical to limiting oak wilt. Wood from oak wilt-killed trees can produce spores, which can infect healthy oaks if they're wounded in spring the following year.

According to Bob Heyd, DNR forest health specialist, oak wilt is a serious disease of oak trees. It mainly affects red oaks, including northern red oak, black oak and pin oak. Red oaks often die within a few weeks after becoming infected. Because white oaks are more resistant, the disease progresses more slowly.

“The spread of oak wilt occurs overland to new areas from April through July as beetles move spores from trees killed this year by oak wilt to wounds on healthy oaks next year,” Heyd said.

“We need to stop that cycle, and that's why it's important for people not to move firewood for the rest of the summer and fall seasons,” he said. “With the transport of firewood and other tree-related activities, you have to assume the risk is present, whether you live in metro Detroit or in the Upper Peninsula.”

Oak wilt has been detected in Dickinson, Iron and Menominee counties in the Upper Peninsula and in Alcona, Allegan, Alpena, Antrim, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Cheboygan, Clinton, Crawford, Genesee, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake, Leelanau, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Manistee, Mason, Midland, Missaukee, Monroe, Montcalm, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Oakland, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa, Roscommon, Saginaw, Shiawassee, St. Joseph, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford counties in the Lower Peninsula.

Although oak wilt hasn't been confirmed in each of Michigan's 83 counties, the need for vigilance is present statewide.

Once an oak is infected, the fungus moves to neighboring red oaks through root grafts. Oaks within approximately 100 feet of each other – depending on the size of the trees – have connected or grafted root systems. Left untreated, oak wilt will continue to move from tree to tree, progressively killing more red oak over an increasingly larger area.

“There are other oak problems that can easily be confused with oak wilt,” Heyd said. “Unlike most other problems, oak wilt causes the tree to suddenly drop its leaves in July or August. In fact, an oak wilt-infected tree dropping its leaves can happen all the way up to fall.”

Heyd advises residents who suspect their trees have oak wilt to first confirm their suspicion. “Once confirmed,” he said, “you'll be given information on the variety of treatment options available.”

Trees that have died from oak wilt should be properly treated to prevent development of spore mats. These treatments include debarking, chipping or splitting, and drying the wood. For more information on the background, symptoms and prevention of oak wilt , visit the Michigan Society of American Foresters website.

Heyd also suggests requesting the help of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Forestry Assistance Program or Michigan State University Extension.

To report a suspected oak wilt site, email DNR-FRD-Forest-Health@michigan.gov or call 517-284-5895.

To learn more about other forest health issues in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/foresthealth.


Remember to leave Michigan's wildlife in the wild

With spring in full swing, Michigan residents may be noticing an increase in sightings of nestlings and baby animals. For example, baby cottontail rabbits and raccoons are a common find this time of year. The Department of Natural Resources reminds those who stumble across a nest of baby bunnies or see other baby wildlife to please leave them be. Leaving wildlife in the wild is best for humans as well as animals.

“Animals are better left alone than removed from the wild," explained DNR wildlife technician Hannah Schauer. "A nest full of young rabbits may look helpless, but staying in the nest is their best chance for survival. However, we appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help.”

If a rabbit's or other animal's nest is found, it's important to also keep children and pets away. If the nest is left alone, the mother will likely return when she feels it is safe.

Every day an animal spends with humans makes it less likely to be able to survive in the wild. Animals that are habituated to humans generally do not do well when released back into the wild.

may seem cute, especially when they are young, but they are well-known for becoming aggressive as they get older. Wild animals can act unpredictably, even if they seem tame. It is important to remember they are still wild animals and can seriously injure a person or pet.

Additionally, raccoons and other wild animals can carry diseases and parasites that can infect humans and pets. Whether an animal may be a carrier of a disease or parasite cannot be determined simply by observing it's physical appearance.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal in Michigan to possess a live wild animal, including raccoons and rabbits.

The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when it is obvious the parent is dead or the animal is injured. A licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Rehabilitators must adhere to the law and have gone through training on the proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals and will work to return the animal to where it will have the best chance for survival.

A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting mi.gov/wildlife or by calling your local DNR office.

/ Editors' note: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Suggested captions follow.

Baby rabbit: A baby rabbit's best chance for survival is staying in the wild.

Raccoon: Raccoons are known to be aggressive as they mature, even if they seem tame./

Baby rabbit.jpg

Northern Michigan museums offer outdoor family fun

Two history museums in northern Michigan once again have opened their doors to the visiting public. The Hartwick Pines Logging Museum in Grayling and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum in Roscommon began sharing their unique stories in May.

The Hartwick Pines Logging Museum is situated among the towering trees of one of Michigan's largest stands of old-growth white pine. The museum's exhibits return visitors to the state's 19th-century logging era, when Michigan led the nation in sawed lumber production. The visitor center, logging camp, exhibits and period rooms tell the stories of the lumberjacks, or “shanty boys,” river men and logging companies that powered Michigan's historic white pine industry. The Logging Museum is located in Hartwick Pines State Park, 8 miles northeast of Grayling, Michigan, on M-93.

Park attractions include the Hartwick Pines Visitor Center and exhibits, log structures with logging exhibits, 9,600 acres of forest and hiking trails, special events and family programs. The park overall offers a welcoming and engaging opportunity for children of all ages to explore and discover the natural wonders of one of Michigan's most diverse forest environments.

The CCC Museum tells the remarkable story of the more than 100,000 young Michigan men who were enrolled, between 1933 and 1942, to perform conservation and reforestation projects. Their work included fighting forest fires; building truck trails, bridges and buildings; revitalizing the state park system; helping to establish national parks; and improving campgrounds in Michigan's national forests. The legacy of the CCC workers remains very much a part of Michigan's forests and outdoor recreation activities today.

Daily offerings include the historic Higgins Lake Tree Nursery and indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as swimming, camping, picnicking and hiking at North Higgins Lake State Park. The CCC Museum is located in North Higgins Lake State Park along North Higgins Lake Drive, south of Grayling, between U.S. 127 and I-75.

The Hartwick Pines Logging Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. after Labor Day until Oct. 25. The CCC Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Labor Day, and Saturdays and Sundays only through the rest of September. For more information on special museum programs and events, please go to www.michigan.gov/loggingmuseum or www.michigan.gov/cccmuseum .

The Hartwick Pines Logging Museum and CCC Museum are two of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources. Admission to each museum is free, but a Recreation Passport is required for park entry.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks, local outdoor recreation opportunities and historic and cultural sites at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport .

The Michigan Historical Center is part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its museum and archival programs help people discover, enjoy and find inspiration in their heritage. It includes the Michigan Historical Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/michiganhistory .

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr .

DNR encourages public to enjoy springtime baby animal sightings, but remember to leave wildlife in the wild

With the arrival of spring, wild animals are giving birth and hatching the next generation of Michigan's wildlife. Baby red foxes appeared in dens during the last days of March and the first days of April. Young great-horned owls have already hatched and are growing up in stick nests high above the ground. Mourning doves have made nests, and some have already laid eggs. The first litters of cottontails will appear soon.

Springtime brings with it an increase in sightings of nestlings and baby animals. The Department of Natural Resources encourages Michigan residents to get outside and enjoy the experience of seeing wildlife raising its young, but reminds them that it is important to remain at a distance.

"These are magical moments to witness but, unfortunately, sometimes the story has a different ending when people take baby wild animals out of the wild," said DNR wildlife technician Katie Keen. “Please resist the urge to try to help seemingly abandoned fawns or other baby animals this spring. Some people truly are trying to be helpful, while others think wild animals would make good pets, but in most cases neither of those situations ends well for the wildlife.”

"We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but the animals are better off left alone than removed from the wild," Keen added.

The animals most commonly rescued by well-intentioned citizens include white-tailed deer fawns and raccoons.

“Spring is the time for fawns,” said DNR wildlife technician Holly Vaughn. “Remember a fawn's best chance for survival is with its mother. Do not remove a fawn that is not injured from the wild.”

“Fawns rely on their camouflage coat to protect them from predators, while their mother stays off in the distance,” Vaughn added. “The mother will not return if people or dogs are present. If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, just quickly leave it alone. After dark the mother deer will return for her fawn.”

It is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time. This behavior minimizes the scent of the mother left around the fawn and allows the fawn to go undetected from nearby predators. While fawns may seem abandoned, they almost certainly are not. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way.

Most mammals have a keen sense of smell, and parents may abandon their young if humans have touched them. Other wildlife, such as birds, should not be handled either. Adult birds will continue to care for hatchlings that have fallen from their nest. If people move the hatchlings, the adults may not be able to locate and care for them.

The DNR advises:
It is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan. Every day an animal spends with humans makes it less likely to be able to survive in the wild.
Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.
Some "rescued" animals that do survive become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild .Eventually habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behaviors. Habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they mature, and raccoons are well-known for this too.

“If you find any baby animal, it should be left in the wild,” said Vaughn. “The only time a baby animal should be removed from the wild is when you know the parent is dead or the animal is injured. Please contact a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator before removing the animal.”

For a list of licensed rehabilitators visit www.michigandnr.com/dlr or call your local DNR office .

Johnson celebrates signing of bills to put special veteran designation on driver's licenses

LANSING, Mich. – Calling it a good day for Michigan veterans, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson watched as Gov. Snyder signed bills that will put a special veteran designation on the driver's licenses of honorably discharged veterans.

“I hope every store clerk, every bank teller and every wait staff who notices the veteran designation will take a moment to just thank that veteran,” said Johnson, who worked closely with lawmakers and bill sponsors Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton, and Senator Darwin Booher, R-Evart. “This will be easy, clear-cut proof of their service that they can use to more easily access the services they've earned and deserve.”

The designation will be available on driver's licenses and personal state IDs beginning May 2014.

“I would like to thank Representative Jenkins and Senator Booher for sponsoring these bills and Secretary Johnson for her support,” said Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Jeff Barnes. “The veterans designation is a great way for Michigan to honor those who have served and makes it easier for veterans to access discounts and offers from retailers, restaurants and hotels who offer special opportunities to veterans. It's another great step that improves the quality of life for Michigan's veterans.”

Michigan, home to some 680,000 veterans, is the 28th state to put a veteran's designation on state-issued IDs and driver's licenses.

“This common-sense legislation eliminates hassles that our veterans continually go through when trying to prove their service for benefits or discounts,” said Jenkins, R-Clayton. “We can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they have made for this country, but this is another way we can make their lives easier and eliminate obstacles they may face.”

“In appreciation of America's veterans, many places offer discounts to veterans and their families,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I sponsored this measure after hearing from veterans in my district about finding a simpler way to prove their military service. Instead of having to carry around their discharge forms, veterans can now have a special insignia appear on their driver's license and state ID that verifies their status.”

Garth Wooten, president of the Michigan Association of County Veterans Counselors and division manager for Oakland County Veterans Services, said veterans are looking forward to carrying the new driver's licenses.

“Veterans are very proud of their service and this will give them a source of pride when they do have to show that identification,” Wooten said. “We're very excited that we'll be able to use this as an opportunity to reach out to veterans to make them aware of benefits they may be eligible for.”

Johnson, who personally visited troops in the Middle East last year as part of her efforts to make voting easier for overseas military members, is also leading other initiatives aimed at helping veterans.

Those efforts include a new law passed last year to ensure absentee ballots are sent overseas to troops by the required deadline, giving them ample time to return those ballots in time to be counted on Election Day.

Also planned is a new fundraising license plate that will raise money directly for Michigan veterans and their families.

In addition, her office is working with the state's Department of Military and Veteran Affairs to put veteran benefit information in each of the state's 131 Secretary of State branch offices.

Johnson was also a leader on legislation that passed last year to cut government red tape and help veterans rejoin the workforce more easily once they get home. Under that new law, the road test for veterans applying for a commercial driver's license is waived if they have verified proof of heavy truck driving experience during their military service.

Donate Life License Plate

Drivers can support organ donor efforts with purchase

LANSING , Mich. – Michigan's newest license plate, which encourages organ donation efforts, is now on sale, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

The Donate Life plate carries the Donate Life logo and the message: “Be an Organ, Eye & Tissue Donor.”

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the plate, which costs $35 in addition to any applicable registration fees, will go to the Thomas Daley Gift of Life Fund to promote organ, tissue and eye donation. The fund is named in honor of Thomas Daley, 23, who died in an accident in 2011 and was an organ donor. Daley the son of Rep. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, and his wife Deborah.

“The need is so great in Michigan and this will be a clear reminder to Michigan residents about the need for people willing to give the gift of life,” said Johnson, who has championed organ donation awareness efforts since becoming secretary of state. Under her leadership, record numbers of people are signing up as potential donors on Michigan's Organ Donor Registry. The Registry grew by nearly 400,000 people – a 25 percent increase – last year.

The plate is formally known as the John J. Gleason Gift of Life Plate in honor of the state representative, John Gleason, who sponsored legislation creating the plate. Gleason is a kidney recipient.

“The new license plate is a great way for every compassionate Michigan citizen to show support, in a highly visible way, for organ, tissue and eye donation,” said Richard

Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state's organ and tissue recovery organization. “Just as importantly, it provides funding to educate the public about how everyone can be a hero to the thousands of people here and across the nation who need a life-saving transplant.”

Liver recipient Marge Del Greco of Farmington Hills will purchase one of the new Donate Life plates right away.

“The new Donate Life license plate is coming out just in time so I can get one for my birthday on Aug. 29,” said Del Greco. “If it hadn't been for the generosity of my donor, I wouldn't be celebrating any birthdays. I'm thrilled to get the new plate because it will bring awareness to the need for more donors and hopefully more people will sign up on the Donor Registry to save lives.”
More than 3,000 people in Michigan are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. A single donor can save up to eight lives through organ transplants and can improve the lives of up to 50 more through tissue and cornea transplants.

The Donate Life plate can be purchased by mail, fax or at any Secretary of State office and will be mailed to customers. Donate Life plates may also be personalized using Plate it Your Way. For more information, visit the Secretary of State website at www.michigan.gov/sos .

Organizations which supported creation of the plate include: the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan; the Gift of Life Foundation; Gift of Life Michigan; the Gift of Life Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP); The Henry Ford Transplant Institute; the Lisa Biskup Organ, Eye Tissue Donor Program; the Michigan Donor Family Council; the Michigan Eye-Bank; Second Chance at Life; St. John Hospital and Medical Center and the University of Michigan Transplant Center.

Sign up for the official Secretary of State Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/michsos and Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/michigansos .

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).

The online, no-wait Secretary of State

ExpressSOS.com records 250,000 th transaction

LANSING, Mich – Michigan residents are choosing the convenience of ExpressSOS.com, the online, no-wait Secretary of State option, with more than 250,000 transactions completed since the new tool was launched on Sept. 22, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

“You can do more business online with the Secretary of State than ever before,” Johnson said. “By simply going to ExpressSOS.com, you may be able to save yourself a trip to a branch office.”

Residents now can complete the most popular Secretary of State transactions online, something that previously required visiting a branch office. Those include:

Renewing or replacing standard state driver's licenses and ID cards
· Changing their address when they move
· Ordering multiple copies of vehicle registrations and titles

Customers are pleased with the convenience of doing more online. One ExpressSOS customer wrote, “Thanks for the great online service. It really took the hassle out of my birthday. It was easy. Very smooth and predictable.” Another said, “Thank you! This is an awesome and very welcomed change, and it's so good to see the government serving the people.”

Under Johnson's leadership, the department launched ExpressSOS.com earlier this year as a means to reduce customer wait times in Secretary of State branch offices. A low-cost advertising campaign to promote ExpressSOS.com has included billboards, Internet ads and a radio commercial.

Every year, more than 10 million people visit their local Secretary of State office, Johnson explained. Of the 9 million license plate/tab renewals processed last year, 6.5 million were processed in the branch offices, she said, adding that nearly 700,000 people come into the branch offices just to change their address.

For information about branch office locations, hours and additional services, visit www.Michigan.gov/sos and sign up for official Secretary of State Twitter feeds ( www.twitter.com/Michsos ) and Facebook updates ( www.facebook.com/Michigansos ).

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer service representative at 888‑SOS‑MICH

Gold Star Plates On Sale

Joined by two Gold Star mothers, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Sen. John Pappageorge marked the first production of the Gold Star Family license plates at the Gus Harrison Correction Facility in Adrian .

At the facility, Johnson presented the first Gold Star Family plates produced to Valerie May, of Midland , whose son, U.S. Army Cpl. Rollie M. Northhouse, was killed in Vietnam in 1968, and Carol Johnson, of Howell, whose son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gregory McCoy, was killed in Iraq in 2006. They both selected personalized Gold Star Family plates to commemorate their sons.

“I don't think there is a better reminder than Mrs. May and Mrs. Johnson that freedom isn't free,” said Johnson. “This week, when we celebrate our freedom on the Fourth of July, seems especially appropriate to launch the Gold Star plates so we can honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and their families.”

Johnson supported the Gold Star plate legislation, sponsored by Sen. Pappageorge, R-Troy, and Rep. Robert Genetski, R-Saugatuck. Pappageorge, a highly decorated veteran who retired with the rank of colonel, served 30 years active duty in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Vietnam .

“This plate serves as a symbol of the sacrifice these American heroes have made,” Pappageorge said. “I'm thankful that the state of Michigan is now recognizing their great sacrifice.”

The use of gold stars to denote families who have lost sons and daughters in military service dates back to World War II. Families with sons and daughters in the military hung flags in their windows, with each blue star denoting a family member serving in the military and each gold star denoting a family member who had died.

“My new Gold Star Family plate will hold a special place in my heart like no other plate I've had before,” May said. “I thank Secretary Johnson, Senator Pappageorge and others for allowing me to see the creation of the first few Gold Star Family plates here today.”

Johnson, who toured the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, thanked the prisoners for their hard work producing all of the state's license plates – about 1.5 million license plates every year.

Like other military and veteran plates, Gold Star Family plates cost $5 in addition to the vehicles standard registration fee.

For more information about license plates or office locations and services, visit the Secretary of State website ( www.Michigan.gov/sos ) or sign up for the official Secretary of State Twitter feed ( www.twitter.com/Michsos ) or Facebook updates ( www.facebook.com/Michigansos ) .

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at
(888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

Drivers with disabilities encouraged to bring ‘Pump Guide' along during travels

Find full-service gas stations with online resource

Motorists with disabilities can make their travels easier by remembering The Pump Guide , Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land advised Michigan residents.

The Pump Guide is an online directory of gas stations statewide that offer travelers with disabilities full service at self-service prices. The site, found at www.ThePumpGuide.com , was created by Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America, a nonprofit organization.

“Before hitting the road, your first visit should be to The Pump Guide,” Land said. “You can map out your trip ahead of time with the knowledge that full-service gas stations are ready to assist you.”

To qualify for refueling assistance, drivers are required to display a state-issued disability license plate or placard.

Michael Harris, executive director of the veterans group, joined Land in promoting The Pump Guide. Harris, who is a paraplegic, came up with The Pump Guide idea during a 2001 business trip.

“I discovered that finding a full-service station was often hit or miss, and I realized that other drivers with disabilities had the same problem,” Harris said. “The Pump Guide offers help for drivers with permanent or temporary physical challenges. It's a great way to encourage independence while traveling.”

The Pump Guide's online program allows users to:

· Search for stations by county

· Identify stations near a specific location or by ZIP code

· Plan a trip using directions that include participating stations along the route

More than 900 gas stations participate in The Pump Guide program. In addition to locations and hours, the guide lists those stations that include car washes, ATMs, accessible restrooms and other amenities. The paralyzed veterans organization gets its information from an annual mailing to gas stations.

Land and Harris' organization first partnered in 2005 when they unveiled The Pump Guide bookmark campaign. The ongoing campaign provides residents who receive a disability license plate or placard with a bookmark printed with the guide's online address. The reverse side of the bookmark encourages people to renew their vehicle and watercraft registration online instead of visiting a Secretary of State office.

In addition, the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America also advocates the installation of “Fuel Call” buttons throughout Michigan. The button is mounted near the gas pump and when it is pushed, the button will notify the gas station attendant that a customer needs help pumping gas. The service is then provided at self-serve prices to individuals with disabilities. Already, about 50 stations on the Pump Guide offer a Fuel Call button.

Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America is celebrating almost 50 years of service. It offers advocacy and assistance for veterans who have spinal cord injuries or diseases.

Additional information about the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America can be found at www.michiganpva.org .


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