The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites the public to join a guided caravan birding tour of Muskegon County Wastewater System Friday, Nov. 17, from 9 a.m. to approximately 2 p.m.
The Muskegon County Wastewater System – owned by Muskegon County and co-managed for waterfowl by the DNR – hosts regionally significant numbers of waterfowl, water birds and shorebirds each spring and fall, with over 10,000 ruddy ducks and 10,000 northern shovelers present annually.
Michigan bird conservation coordinator Caleb Putnam (Audubon Great Lakes and DNR) and DNR staff members will be on hand to answer questions about wildlife management, habitat projects under way at the Muskegon State Game Area and hunting opportunities. The tour will focus on the wastewater system's large lagoons, where thousands of ducks, geese and water birds typically are present. Additional species may be spotted, including several species of gulls, some winter songbirds and, with luck, a snowy owl or golden eagle.
The tour will begin at 9 a.m. at the Muskegon State Game Area headquarters, located at 7600 Messinger Road in Twin Lake (about 3 miles north of the wastewater system off Maple Island Road). Participants should dress for the possibility of very cold temperatures, snow/rain and high winds. Bringing binoculars and spotting scopes is recommended, if possible. The trip leaders will have a small number of scopes available for those who don't have them.
Muskegon County Wastewater System is one of Michigan's Wetland Wonders, the seven premier managed waterfowl hunt areas in the state. The other six Wetland Wonders are Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County), Fish Point State Wildlife Area (Tuscola County), St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island (St. Clair County), Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe County), Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area (Bay County) and Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County).
These areas, scattered across the southern Lower Peninsula, were created in the 1960s to provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities, and still are managed today to provide waterfowl habitat for nesting and migration and for the benefit of other wetland wildlife. Since the beginning, the areas have been funded by hunting license fees and area use fees, but they are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.
A permit is required to enter the wastewater system property, and can be obtained at 698 N. Maple Island Road in Muskegon (located 1.25 miles east of Maple Island on White Road) during normal working hours (Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Note: those participating in the tour do not need to pick up their permits in advance.
To learn more about Muskegon County Wastewater System, visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders
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
Contact: Caleb Putnam, 517-643-6873