Michigan DNR Director Meets State ATA Members
If Michigan approves its first increase in hunting license fees since 1997, the Michigan DNR would work to provide grant money for state conservation groups to do habitat-improvement projects on state-owned hunting properties.
That was one idea proposed by Rodney Stokes, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, when meeting with ATA-member dealers and manufacturers Jan. 10. In a Q&A session arranged by Mitch King, ATA's director of government affairs, Stokes spoke with manufacturers such as Greg Sesselmann, founder and president of Scent-Lok; Larry Griffith, president and owner of Bohning Inc., and several Michigan archery dealers.
Sesselmann encouraged Stokes to look for ways to make Michigan a destination for deer hunters, instead of a source of hunters traveling to Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and other states. Sesselmann believes Michigan can produce far more quality deer if hunters realize all it takes is better habitat and self-restraint on shooting young bucks.
Stokes agreed Michigan has that potential, but worries that the DNR no longer has the funding to do necessary habitat work on many of its public lands. "I don't know any household anywhere that can get by today on an income level that hasn't changed in 15 years," he said. "We are not preserving the quality of habitat on state properties the way we'd like."
Griffith said the Michigan DNR has a poor reputation in his area, sometimes because conservation wardens are rude and disrespectful to citizens. Stokes agreed that could be a problem if wardens make law-enforcement their No. 1 priority, not customer service. "I want our wardens to understand that hunters, anglers and campers provide 96 percent of the DNR's operating funds," Stokes said. "If our customers go elsewhere to hunt and fish, or quit visiting our parks to camp because they feel harassed, our people could find themselves out of a job."
Did You Know?
The ATA has donated grants totaling more than $620,000 to help fund National Archery in the School Program pilot efforts in more than 41 states, Canadian provinces and Australia.