Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI)Role of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory
The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) program conducts field surveys to locate and identify threatened and endangered species and communities throughout the state, created and maintains a database of all relevant species and community locations, provides data summaries and analysis in support of environmental reviews, and provides biological expertise to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program is housed in the Wildlife Division, but provides relevant information to all DNR divisions, the Department of Environmental Quality, and other agencies and organizations. This program is an essential part of meeting the Department's legislated responsibilities for threatened and endangered species protection.
History of Michigan Natural Features Inventory
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) developed the concept of state natural heritage programs in the 1970s with the goal of helping all states develop similar natural heritage programs. The first of these state programs were formed in the mid-1970s, and the MNFI program was first funded and staffed in 1980. The intent of TNC was to assist in getting state programs started and then turn them over to the state for ongoing operation and administration. Due to a number of circumstances, Michigan continued this program through contractual relations with TNC for many years.
Transition to MSU Extension
As of July 2000, MNFI moved from being a program of TNC, to being a program of Michigan State University Extension. Over the long term these benefits to MNFI's effectiveness are expected:
- More access to land use decision-makers statewide through the Extension statewide infrastructure will facilitate getting MNFI's data put to use in land use decisions;
- Increased contact with students should assist in raising interest and awareness of biodiversity conservation and provide valuable field experience to students;
- More contact with university researchers will create opportunities for collaborative efforts.