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.

National Golf Month and the U.S. Amateur Championship in Michigan

August is National Golf Month — a time to celebrate one of American’s favorite pastimes.

Golf in Michigan is special. Our state is regularly considered one of the top states for golf — with more than 800 public golf courses and the fourth-highest number of courses in the nation.

No doubt, this is largely due to Michigan’s incredible natural resources — our woods and streams, hills and valleys, and of course our Great Lakes and sand dunes — which have helped create beautiful and award-winning golf experiences.

The Michigan Senate Republicans encourage you to get out and play golf with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime.

There are many outstanding golf courses located right here in Michigan. One of the nation’s premier courses is Oakland Hills Country Club, which turns 100 this year and is hosting the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship this week, from Monday, Aug. 15 through Sunday, Aug. 21.

The club has a rich and significant history. Its first head professional was legendary golfer Walter Hagen, who was a five-time PGA champion. The South Course is known as “The Monster” and has hosted 16 major championships. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Gary Player — among the best to ever play the game — have all won on the South Course.

To help the tournament be a financial success, Sen. Mike Kowall sponsored Public Act 180 of 2016 to add the U.S. Amateur Championship to the list of events for which the Michigan Liquor Control Commission could issue one of its special liquor licenses. The measure received overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House.

We encourage all Michigan families to take some time during National Golf Month to head outdoors and enjoy this wonderful game. Also, if you can, take time to watch as Michigan hosts the U.S. Amateur Championship.

2016 accomplishments – First 6 months

As June comes to a close, it’s a great time to look back at the achievements we’ve made so far in 2016.

For starters, let’s remember how far we’ve come. Under Republican leadership, Michigan has added more than 450,000 private sector jobs and our state unemployment rate dropped below the national average for the first time since August 2000.

In fact, at 4.7 percent, Michigan’s unemployment rate has been cut in half since January 2011, is at its lowest rate in 15 years, and is more than 10 points lower than it was in June 2009.

It’s no surprise then, that the PEW Charitable Trusts declared Michigan as “maybe the biggest success story” in the nation.

Let’s look at what we’ve accomplished in the first six months of 2016…

For the sixth year in the row, the Senate Republicans passed a fiscally responsible budget months ahead of schedule that maintains our positive momentum, ensures we live within our means and continues our unwavering support of public education.

We have always led the fight for greater funding for our local schools and more choice in education.

In fact, Michigan is investing more this year on K-12 education than ever in state history. The finalized Fiscal Year 2017 budget directs more than $14 billion to education — increasing support by more than $260 million and paying down more than $1 billion in school retirement costs, which will help schools put additional dollars into the classroom.

Senate Republicans acted promptly to the Flint water crisis and appropriated more than $211 million in much needed emergency relief to address the immediate health needs of the people of Flint, as well as putting another $74.6 million in the new budget.

We believe in the sanctity of life. It’s a tragedy when a child dies, and no one should profit from the trafficking of human fetal remains. We put an end to that horrific practice in 2016 with the signing of Senate Bills 564 and 565.

In 2016, we stood up for our heroes — securing more funding to assist homeless veterans and create a new Veterans Home Ombudsman to ensure our veterans receive the proper care they earned serving our nation.

We also helped encourage more parents to take their children outdoors, by guaranteeing free access to state boating access sites and certain state parks during the state’s two free fishing weekends.

While we accomplished much already in 2016, the Michigan Senate Republicans remain committed to working tirelessly to build upon these successes and continue to improve our state for future generations.

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.

TBT: “Winter Comes to Michigan” newsreel

You don’t want to miss this very cool blast from the past!

After spending decades in a basement in the eastern Upper Peninsula, a 1930s-era newsreel from the Michigan State Highway Department has resurfaced to remind us of the challenges — and the fun — of winters past.

The film, “Winter Comes to Michigan,” created by the precursor agency to the Michigan Department of Transportation, gives us a black-and-white window to the era when Murray Van Wagoner, a future Michigan governor, ran the department from 1933-1940.

The film shows residents enjoying outdoor winter fun at several locations, such as Ishpeming’s Suicide Hill ski jump, fledgling downhill ski areas, outdoor public ice skating rinks and an elaborate toboggan run. Filmmaker and author Bill Jamerson, whose documentaries have explored winter sports and other aspects of our state history, said many of the film’s locations were probably in the U.P., while the toboggan run scene was probably filmed at a winter sports park in Grayling.

On this Throwback Thursday, enjoy a glimpse at how things were 80 years ago and see how some things — like the fun and the tribulations of winter weather — are timeless.

Free winter fishing this weekend!

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is home to some of the world’s best fishing.

In an effort to increase awareness of Michigan’s great fishing, the state offers two weekends each year when residents and out-of-state visitors can get together and enjoy fishing — at no charge.

This weekend is the state’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend!

It’s an excellent opportunity to introduce the joy of fishing to children and help pass down the tradition of Michigan fishing to the next generation of anglers. It’s also a chance for even the most experienced angler to try winter fishing for the first time.

During the weekend, all fishing license fees will be waived and vehicles will be able to enter state parks and use boating sites without a recreation passport. Residents and visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland lakes and the Great Lakes for all species of fish, but all fishing regulations still apply.

To celebrate the free fishing weekend, organized activities have been scheduled across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including local and state parks, constituent groups, schools, businesses and others.

Residents looking for more details on the Winter Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, may visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing. The website also has helpful information about ice fishing in an article titled “Fishing Technique: Ice Fishing, The Coolest Sport Around.”

Be safe! Recent warm temperatures have tragically resulted in some people falling through the ice. Check out “Ice Safety Tips” on what you need to know before going out on the ice.

We encourage Michigan anglers — and those who have never gone fishing — to get out and take part in one of our state’s premier outdoor activities.

Please remember that having fun starts with being safe.