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Michigan DNR suspends burn permits, chartered fishing due to COVID-19

Michigan DNR is suspending burn permits to increase first responder availability and chartered fishing because it's non-essential.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan Department of Natural Resources is suspending burn permits,  chartered fishing and guide operations during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to Gov. Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.

The order went into effect on Tuesday March 24, ordering Michiganders to stay home unless they work for essential industries, such as health and food services. Residents are also allowed to pick up prescriptions, groceries and go outside as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

“We need to make sure our emergency response resources are available where they are needed at this time,” said Dan Laux, fire supervisor for the DNR Forest Resources Division. 

Laux also said, “Less open burning means less potential for escaped fires, and that means staff can deal with other, more critical needs.”

The suspension will also help protect responders from potentially contracting COVID-19.

“It’s out of an abundance of caution that we want to support the statewide effort to fight COVID-19,” Laux said.

Firefighters and first responders often work close together on scene and when travelling to and from the scene.

Laux added, “Suspending burn permits in much of the state means fewer people will be burning debris – the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Michigan.”

Kevin Sehlmeyer, the State Fire Marshal agreed, saying: “This preventative approach to limiting wildland fires is important so that first responders can continue making medical calls during this health crisis.”

In the Southern Lower Pennisula, burn permits are issued by local fire departments and government offices.

In the Northern Lower Pennisula and the Upper Pennisula, burn permits are issued through the DNR's website.

Open burning may still be allowed in areas where the ground remains snow covered.

Residents are encouraged to check the DNR's website for updates on burn permit restrictions.

Chartered fishing and guide operations will also be suspended through April 13.

Michigan DNR determined that these activities are not exempt from Gov. Whitmers "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order and says that all chartered fishing operations involving boats, canoes, and other marine vessels must stop immediately.

These operations may also cause anglers to congregate in ways that violate Gov. Whitmer's order.

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