The Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the stewardship of Michigan's natural resources and for the provision of outdoor recreational opportunities
In 1995, Governor John Engler issued Executive Order 1995-18, which separated environmental and natural resources functions into two departments, elevating environmental protection to Cabinet status for the first time in history, and allowing the DNR to return to its original conservation mission. The Department of Environmental Quality
now focuses on environmental regulatory, permitting and related enforcement functions, and the DNR focuses on promoting diverse outdoor recreational opportunities, wildlife and fisheries management, forest management, state lands and minerals, state parks and recreation areas, and conservation and law enforcement.
The DNR operates under the policy guidance of the Natural Resources Commission. Seven Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and serve four-year terms. Approximately 1,400 permanent employees implement over 70 programs under the supervision of DNR Director Keith Creagh and his Management Team. The DNR has primary responsibilities for managing more public lands than any agency east of the Mississippi River, in an outdoor lovers' paradise that is like nowhere else on Earth. Conservation Officers, geologists, foresters, park rangers, and wildlife and fisheries biologists, are just a few of the kinds of professionals the DNR employs to carry out its public trust responsibilities.
The DNR is funded by state general fund revenues, federal funds and a variety of restricted funds. The $288.2 million Fiscal Year 2007-2008 budget is composed of 8 percent General Fund and 17 percent federal funds, with the remaining 75 percent of the budget made up of approximately 40 different restricted funds.
Federal funding consists mainly of special purpose categorical grants from various Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federal funds support programs for wildlife and fisheries habitat and development, forest management, recreation and other natural resource efforts. Restricted funding is generated from licenses, user fees and other charges. These funds support programs for wildlife and fisheries programs, operation of Michigan's 97 state parks, harbor development, marine safety enforcement and education, snowmobile and off-road vehicle (ORV) trail repair and development, and operation of Michigan's 138 state forest campgrounds.
"Restricted revenues," which by statute can only be used to support related programs, are generated from hunting and fishing licenses ($50 million), state park entrance and camping fees ($38.2 million), two percent of the gas tax ($19.1 million), snowmobile registration and snowmobile trail and ORV permits ($9.7 million) and forest camping fees ($1.2 million). Restricted funds also are used for nongame protection and management. The Department also generates timber sale revenue from state lands. Approximately 90 percent of timber sales revenue goes to Forest Management and are used for the protection and development of our state forests. The other 10 percent of timber sales go to the Game and Fish Protection Trust Fund.
Most revenue from oil and gas royalties and lease sales on state lands are deposited into the Natural Resources Trust Fund which, in turn, provides funding for recreational land acquisition and development. A portion of the oil and gas revenues (50 percent or $10.0 million, whichever is less) is transferred to the State Park Endowment Fund, pursuant to Proposal P that was approved by voters in 1994.
Wild animals, from black bear and white-tailed deer to bald eagles and bullfrogs, bring a rich diversity of life to our lands. The DNR manages and protects 400 species of game and nongame birds, mammals and their habitats, along with over 70 state game and wildlife areas. Wildlife biologists make recommendations on hunting regulations, habitat management, public hunting access, and protect more than 340 threatened and endangered plant and animal species.
Michigan ranks 3rd in the nation in licensed hunters (more than 750,000) who contribute $1 billion annually to our economy. Some 3.2 million non-consumptive users contribute $1.5 billion annually to Michigan's economy.
The Nongame Wildlife Fund, through the sale of specialty license plates and donations, supports Natural Heritage research, education and habitat restoration projects to identify, protect, manage and restore native plant and animal species.
Michigan offers a wealth of fishing opportunities with more than 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, including 1,000 miles of the finest trout mainstreams in the country. We have 3,000 miles of freshwater shoreline (more than any other state) - and more total shoreline than any other state, except Alaska. Our two peninsulas touch four of the five Great Lakes, which contain 80 percent of the nation's fresh water and 14 percent of the world's fresh water. In Michigan you're never more than six miles from a river or stream, and never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.
The DNR works to preserve and enhance Michigan's fish populations, as well as other forms of aquatic life. Fish are monitored and studied by biologists who strive to keep Michigan fishing among the nation's best. More than 20 fish species are reared and hatched at six state hatcheries, and then planted into designated waters to maintain or improve fish populations.
More than 1.5 million resident and nonresident anglers fish Michigan waters (5th in the nation) and contribute $2 billion annually to our economy. And Michigan ranks among the top states in the nation in the number of registered boats.
Forest, Mineral and Fire Management
Forest, Mineral and Fire Management administers 6.3 million acres of mineral estate ownership and leasing rights to explore for oil, gas and other minerals on state-owned lands (contributing $30-$40 million each year in royalties to the Natural Resources Trust Fund for recreational land acquisition and development, and for deposit into the Park Endowment Fund); maintains statewide aerial photographs in color infra-red and black and white formats, and provides detailed computerized map information for land utilization, management and resource protection.
Spanning 3.9 million acres, Michigan has the largest dedicated state forest system in the nation--three forests in the Upper Peninsula and three forests in the Lower Peninsula. Forests are popular spots for wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, hiking, cross country skiing, backpacking and horseback riding. A DNR-established network of 6,200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails is the reason that we register more snowmobiles than any other state. And 138 rustic campgrounds provide valuable recreational opportunities.
The DNR manages the use of forests for timber production, new tree growth (growing trees at 2-1/2 times the rate of harvest), wildlife habitat and recreation. Foresters regularly examine trees, plants and soil characteristics to determine the best management practices to keep the forests healthy. Fire officers protect both public and private lands from wildfires.
Forest timber products industries and recreational users contribute $12 billion and 200,000 associated jobs annually to our economy.
Parks and Recreation
The Parks and Recreation Division manages 97 state parks and recreation areas, 829 developed boating access sites, 10 lighthouses, 16 harbors and six scenic sites. Together these facilities provide recreation opportunities for more than 22 million state park visitors each year and Michigan's nearly one million registered boaters.
Whether hiking, camping, boating, fishing, hunting or bicycling, the division provides unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities on 280,000 acres of land, 142 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and 460 miles of inland lake shoreline. Campers will find 13,496 sites for modern and rustic camping. Trail users can experience 881 miles of non-motorized trails with 264 miles designated for mountain bike and bicycle use. Horseback riders can enjoy facilities at seven equestrian campgrounds, five stables and 175 miles of trails.
Michigan's recreation facilities play an important role in the state's tourism industry. A 1997 study revealed that visitors to state parks and recreation areas spent an estimated $464 million, about half of that within 20 miles of their destination. Owners of registered boats spend about $700 million on trips in 1998
State park lands protect and preserve a large part of the biological diversity of Michigan. More than 200 different rare species of plants and animals are located on park lands. These lands include 147 exemplary locations of 43 different Michigan ecosystems. A total of five federal and 21 state endangered species have been documents in state parks and recreation areas. Five federal and 75 state threatened species have been documented, and the state lists 102 species of special concern.
As a self-supporting system, these lands are supported by user fees, including motor vehicle permits, camping fees, boat registrations, harbor slip rentals and marine fuel sales. The generous support of volunteers helps to maintain these recreation facilities for all to enjoy.
Michigan Conservation Officers primarily enforce laws related to hunting, fishing and trapping, as well as laws governing the operation of boats, snowmobiles and recreational vehicles. COs also work with other state, federal and local law-enforcement agencies to enforce a wide range of statutes and assist in undercover investigations, fire prevention and emergency search, rescue and recovery operations.
Conservation Officers help locate lost hunters, provide emergency medical assistance and play an integral role in the department's educational public outreach efforts with conservation organizations and clubs, community groups and schools. Conservation Officers frequently help establish and serve as instructors of recreational safety programs for hunters, boaters and operators of recreational vehicles.
Land and Facilities
Land and Facilities assists with the overall administration of approximately 4.5 million acres of publicly owned lands, 25 million acres of Great Lakes bottomlands and 130,000 platted lots under the jurisdiction of the DNR.
Staff maintains land ownership records on all department land transactions and coordinates activities related to the acquisition and disposition of land or rights in land, and resolves title and boundary issues. These activities are accomplished through purchase, gift, exchange, sale, and easement transactions that serve to meet the objectives of the department.
The DNR also accepts title to and disposes of approximately 20,000 tax-reverted parcels each year through re-conveyances, public use deeds, or a public auction process.
This division also provides design and construction services for the department and provides administrative and facility operational support to program staff located at DNR Operations Service Centers and other field offices.
The importance of utilizing customer-friendly service technologies, sound accounting principles and best business practices, proper contract administration and educational outreach efforts in the management of Michigan's natural resources cannot be overstated. DNR's Financial Services; Budget and Support Services; Grants, Contracts and Customer Systems; Program Assistance and Review; and Human Resources, all play vital roles in supporting the department's conservation mission.