Still time to enjoy National Family Fun Month!

Summertime may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean an end to the fun. Michigan offers families a wide variety of outstanding late summer and early fall outdoor activities, such as boating, fishing and attending local festivals.

August is National Family Fun Month and there is still time for residents to take advantage of our state’s numerous outdoor activities like taking in a round at one of our world-class golf courses or kayaking on 36,000 miles of rivers.

Family fun does not necessarily mean extravagant vacations. There is plenty to do here in Michigan that is not only budget-friendly, but often within an hour or two of your home.

We are blessed to have natural and cultural resources in Michigan that make our state such a great place to live and raise a family. A good way to have fun and support your local community is to get out and enjoy all the activities available right here in our own backyard.

There is plenty of time left to visit one of more than 40 Michigan water parks or aquatic centers, spend a day in the sand at one of Michigan’s beautiful beaches or take a family bike ride along miles of bike trails throughout our state. Michigan is also home to thousands of inland lakes, where families can go to swim, hike, water ski or just enjoy a picnic.

It is not just about fun and games. Children with involved parents tend to fare better in school and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Spending more time together as a family strengthens your family bonds, improves academic performance in children and helps kids develop positive parenting skills.

No matter what the activity is, make sure that the entire family is involved and that you cherish the time spent together. For ideas for your late summer family outing, visit www.michigan.org/outdoors.

Stamas completes 2016 Heritage Route 23 Legislative Tour

Sen. Jim Stamas and several state and local officials recently completed a two-day legislative tour of Heritage Route 23.

“My goal in leading this successful tour was to bring attention to Michigan’s sunrise side and to better engage state leaders with the community on local issues critical to the region,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This hands-on tour offered us a unique chance to bring together multiple state department directors, tourism officials and economic development leaders to see what northeastern Michigan has to offer, promote tourism in the region and help improve the area economy.”

Beginning at Wheeler’s Restaurant in Standish, the tour traveled 200 miles along the U.S. 23 Heritage Route from Standish to Mackinaw City — finishing with a stop at the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.

In addition to seeing the museum in Mackinaw City with Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, and Travel Michigan Vice President Dave Lorenz, some of the tour highlights included:

  • Visiting a Standish grain elevator and Alpena dairy farm with MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams;
  • Checking out the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse in Rogers City with DNR Director Bill Moritz;
  • Seeing the MidMichigan Medical Center in Alpena with Michigan DHHS Director Nick Lyon;
  • Attending the “Good Morning Alpena” breakfast at the Brown Trout Festival; and
  • Touring a veterans office in Rogers City with Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, chair of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

Also joining Stamas on the tour were Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle; Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare; Rep. Brad Jacobsen, R-Oxford; DEQ Director Keith Creagh; and numerous other officials from state and local government.

Heritage Route 23 along Lake Huron is one of Michigan’s hidden gems. Families can experience spectacular lake views, check out numerous historical and cultural sites and enjoy a wide variety of recreational opportunities — from relaxing on miles of beaches to staying at one of more than 50 area campgrounds to visiting one of many historic lighthouses.

To discover more information on Heritage Route 23, visit www.us23heritageroute.org.

Summer in Michigan’s Great Outdoors

Summer officially begins on Monday, June 20. With the summer solstice around the corner — and most children already out on summer break — the Michigan Senate Republicans encourage residents to get outdoors this summer and enjoy Michigan’s natural wonders.

June is National Great Outdoors Month, and Michigan offers residents the chance to celebrate our great outdoors to the fullest extent.

In our great state, you can bike on more than 1,300 miles of dedicated trails, kayak over 36,000 miles of streams and rivers or explore all 3,288 miles of Michigan’s Great Lakes coastline. Michigan is also home to the second most number of campgrounds in the nation, over 11,000 inland lakes and more than 80 state and national parks.

It’s easy to see that there is something in Michigan for everyone to enjoy this summer!

We are blessed to have amazing natural resources in Michigan. We are surrounded and defined by the Great Lakes — the largest surface freshwater system in the world. How much water is that? Well, the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters hold six quadrillion gallons of water — enough to cover the entire U.S. with water more than seven feet deep.

We don’t have to travel far to see the largest concentration of freshwater sand dunes in the world along Lake Michigan, with some dunes reaching 250 feet in high and up to one mile wide.

Michigan’s more than 19 million acres of forests cover more than half the land area of the state and contain more than 75 different types of trees. Our forests are home to an abundance of plants and animals, including moose, bear, wolves, deer, and one of the rarest birds in the world, the Kirtland’s warbler.

For any Michigan family heading outdoors to splash in the water, camp in the woods or simply to have fun in the sun, one thing is clear: Nothing beats a Pure Michigan summer!

For a list of ideas on how you can enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty, please visit: www.Michigan.org/Outdoors.

Free fishing this weekend!

Michigan’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend is this Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12.

It offers an outstanding opportunity for families to get together and enjoy some of the world’s best fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters — at no charge.

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing go hand in hand.

For 30 years, Michigan has celebrated the free weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and the sheer fun of fishing.

Michigan Senate Republicans encourage all area anglers — and those who have never gone fishing — to get out and take part in one of our state’s premier outdoor activities during the free weekend.

It is a wonderful chance to pass along the joy of fishing to the next generation or to just get away from the stress of life and relax in the Michigan great outdoors.

Anglers do not need a license for the annual event. All fishing license fees will be waived during the weekend, although all fishing regulations still apply.

To encourage involvement in the Free Fishing Weekend, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including local and state parks, constituent groups, schools, businesses and others.

For more information on the Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

Celebrating Boating and Fishing

As Michigan residents, we have access to countless rivers, streams, inland lakes and of course, the Great Lakes. We appreciate the outdoors and enjoy the state’s beautiful natural resources. Now that spring is turning to summer, more and more Michigan residents and tourists are heading out for a great time on the water.

Beginning June 4 and ending on June 12 is National Fishing and Boating Week — an annual celebration of these outdoor activities.

Since Michigan is home to 11,037 inland lakes, 36,350 miles of rivers and streams and 3,288 miles of Great Lakes coastline, recreational boaters in Michigan are never more than six miles from the water.

The week-long event encourages outdoor enthusiasts to get away from the stress of everyday life and take advantage of the numerous fishing and boating opportunities Michigan has to offer.

The celebration mostly coincides with Michigan Boating Week, June 4-11, and concludes with the Summer Free Fishing Weekend, June 11-12.

Boating week promotes boating throughout the state; and the free fishing weekend allows residents to fish without a license — although all fishing regulations still apply.

National Fishing and Boating Week and Michigan Boating Week offer the opportunities for everyone — from the experienced anglers and veteran boaters to the entry-level hobbyists — to get out on the water and have a fun time with family and friends. Grab a kayak, plan a canoe trip, or take a child fishing and help pass along the enjoyment of Michigan’s great outdoors to the next generation.

For a complete list of ideas for enjoying Michigan’s outdoors, explore www.michigan.org/outdoors.

For information on fishing spots, licensing and regulations, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

For details on boating safety, regulations, harbors and rentals, visit www.michigan.gov/boating.

Urging action in fight against Asian carp

The Michigan Senate Natural Resources Committee considers legislation that affects us all. The committee has been referred bills to protect the Great Lakes and our inland lakes and rivers; bills that would strengthen environmental protections; and bills to protect wildlife.

On Earth Day 2016, it is an appropriate time to consider a resolution the committee worked on to help protect our waters and environment against a critical threat.

Senate Resolution 12, as approved by the Senate, is the latest of a series of measures advocating for the federal government to take a more aggressive role in protecting the Great Lakes from a potential Asian carp invasion that could jeopardize jobs in a $7 billion fishing industry and $9 billion recreational boating industry.

The state of Michigan, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, is literally defined by the lakes. Consequently, the health of our economy and quality of life are intertwined with the health of the lakes.

Asian carp are an acute threat to the Great Lakes. The environmental and economic impact of these fish if they get into the Great Lakes would be catastrophic.

The Chicago Area Waterway System, connecting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, is a major pathway for aquatic invasive species (AIS) to spread between the two systems. Zebra mussels used this pathway to spread from the Great Lakes, leading to millions of dollars in annual control costs for industries and public utilities. Now, Asian carp stand poised to use this pathway to invade the Great Lakes.

A permanent, long-term solution to this problem must be identified and implemented. The problem of Asian carp and other AIS using this man-made connection is not going away and will not resolve itself.

The Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee was formed in May 2014 with the goal of reaching consensus on short- and long-term measures to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Thirty-four representatives from government; industry; and commercial, recreational and environmental groups came together to solve this pressing problem.

SR 12 supports the advisory committee’s recommendations to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

Previous resolutions approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee also urged Congress and President Obama to expeditiously evaluate all options, including hydrologic and ecological separation, while minimizing impacts on transportation and then implement those measures.

We need action to help prevent a disaster that would decimate our vibrant fishing, tourism and boating industries and wreak havoc on the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and all its rivers.

There are no perfect long-term solutions to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, but leaving the lakes vulnerable is the costliest option.