Safari Club chapters honored for aiding accessible recreation, wildlife conservation

Several Michigan chapters of Safari Club International that recently stepped up to support outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation were recognized for their efforts at Thursday’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing.

The Roscommon area in the northern Lower Peninsula, which includes destinations like North and South Higgins Lake state parks and Backus State Game Area, is popular for outdoor recreation pursuits. With an extensive county and state forest road system, the area offers easy access for many people, but some of its more rugged terrain can be difficult to reach for those who use wheelchairs.

Six Michigan SCI chapters – Novi, Detroit, Flint, Michigan, Mid-Michigan and Southeast Bow Hunters – recently donated $1,000 each toward the purchase of a track chair for area visitors to use. Other support came from campers and boaters who added $2 donations when making campground and harbor reservations. This off-road, electronic chair can easily handle trails, snow, sand and even up to 8 inches of water, allowing users to explore places that traditional wheelchairs might not reach.

“Those donations, along with other contributions, will make better access available to Michigan residents and visitors with limited mobility and enhance their outdoor recreation experiences,” said DNR wildlife biologist Mark Boersen.

The SCI effort is unique, Boersen said, in that the track chair will be shared between the DNR Parks and Recreation and Wildlife divisions. Interest in and support for track chairs are high; just last week the DNR announced reaching a fundraising goal – nearly half a million dollars – to cover the cost of obtaining track chairs at more than two dozen state parks!

The track chair is expected to be available for use starting in early 2024. To reserve it for outdoor experiences, contact Mark Boersen at 989-275-5151 or South Higgins Lake State Park at 989-821-6374.

The SCI-Michigan Involvement Committee – made up of all 10 Michigan chapters of SCI, whose mission is to enhance wildlife conservation and education in Michigan – also recently supported advancements in technology used to manage Michigan’s wildlife resources. The committee contributed $17,000 toward the purchase of an Illumina MiniSeq Sequencing System.

The DNR will use this equipment to “harness advancements in genetic technology to modernize population monitoring methods, starting with U.P. black bears,” said DNR Genetics Lab coordinator Caitlin Ott-Conn.


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