State Park Stewardship

Michigan state parks contain an abundance of natural features which are fundamental to the heritage of our state. The Department of Natural Resources established the State Park Stewardship Program (operating within the Parks and Recreation Division) in 1995 to protect these resources and balance them with compatible recreaional use. With 23 million state park visitors each year, this is no small task.

The unit is faced with unique challenges such as protection of historic and archaeological sites, preventing and halting the invasion of non-native plants and animals, fragmentation (the breaking up of tracts of habitat), and the suppression of natural fire.


  • Comprehensive inventory of all natural and cultural resources within Michigan's state park system (more than 100 state parks encompassing 280,000+ acres); identify and monitor unique, rare and endangered species as well as significant historic and archaeological sites
  • Protection of park natural and cultural resources
  • Restoration and management of Michigan's native ecosystems and preservation of the native species within them

How we do it:

The stewardship program relies upon a network of dedicated volunteers to collect native prairie seedremove non-native weeds, participate in our Volunteer Steward Program and help with a variety of other stewardship activities.

field with prairie seedPrescribed burning in Michigan state parks are lit under specific weather and site conditions to set back encroaching shrubs and trees, to stimulate native plants and to fertilize soil with ash.

Invasive and exotic species such as phragmites are removed during volunteer stewardship workdays to make room for native species that are critical to Michigan's ecosystems.

Program Contacts:
Ray Fahlsing
Stewardship Unit Manager

Lisa Gamero
Stewardship Specialist

Glenn Palmgren 

Bob Clancy
Ecological Restoration Specialist

Tom Tucker
Stewardship Ranger

Laurel Malvitz-Draper
Natural Resource Steward, Southeast Michigan

Heidi Frei
Natural Resource Steward, Southwest Michigan

Alicia Ihnken
Stewardship Analyst