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Michigan DNR Pilot Project Aids Access to Popular Lakes for Ice Fishing

Michigan DNR

Many ice fishermen in the Upper Peninsula wish their favorite lakes were easier to access in the winter.

A new pilot program from the Michigan DNR is addressing that challenge.

Landings and parking areas at more than two dozen U.P. lakes are being consistently plowed this winter as part of the program.

The Michigan DNR got creative to make it happen.

It’s partnering with several different volunteer groups who are helping to clear the landings for ice fishermen.

“It hooks up bait shops and county road commissions and other governmental entities that are volunteering to help plow out 26 sites in ten of the Upper Peninsula’s 15 counties,” said Michigan DNR spokesman John Pepin.

In our area, landings and parking lots at several lakes are being cleared.

They include Indian Lake, Swan Lake, Lake Mary, East Lake Emily, and Lake Ellen in Iron County and Hamilton Lake in Dickinson County.

“What we’ve done is we’ve kind of tried to, inasmuch as we can, focus on the sites where we’ve had a lot of requests over the years, or some of the more popular sites, places that people like to get out to,” Pepin said.

Much of the Michigan DNR’s budget was off-limits for the program. For example, revenue from boater registration fees can’t be used to support ice fishing, which doesn’t use a boat. That’s why the program relies heavily on volunteers.

If you’d like to help keep sites open in the winter, or to share feedback on lake usage, contact Stacy Haughey at WellingS1@michigan.gov or 906-226-1331.

Here’s the full list of waterways being cleared as part of the program:

Baraga County: Vermilac Lake, Silver River

Chippewa County: Conley Point

Delta County: Kipling

Dickinson County: Hamilton Lake

Iron County: Indian Lake, Swan Lake, Lake Mary, East Lake Emily, Lake Ellen

Keweenaw County: Gratiot Lake, Lake Medora, Lake Bailey

Luce County: Little Lake Harbor, Kak’s Lake, Big Manistique Lake (County Line access)

Mackinac County: South Manistique Lake, North Manistique Lake, Milakokia Lake and Millecoquins Lake

Marquette County: Lake Michigamme, Greenwood Reservoir, Johnson Lake, Big Shag Lake, East Bass Lake

Schoolcraft County: Big Spring Landing

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He then contributed with periodic stories until 2024. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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