The Michigan Department of Natural Resources had its beginnings in the early 1800s, when most people thought the natural resources were there for the taking. When it was discovered that there wasn't, in fact, an endless supply, Michigan citizens worked to protect what was left. Propagation of existing species followed, as did introduction of new species.
To overturn the exploitation of our natural resources, the Legislature created the first fledgling agencies to manage and protect our resources, and, in 1921, combined them all into one unit called the Michigan Department of Conservation. In the same year, the Conservation Commission, a citizen body appointed by the governor, was established to provide policy direction for Department activities.
For nearly half a century conservation was the watchword term for the work carried out by the Department. The public was becoming increasingly more interested in our resources and what was being done about them. Conservation was becoming more alive, more vibrant.
As more demands were placed on our resources by a growing society, the term resource use signaled a new era in conservation. Renamed the Department of Natural Resources in 1968 to shoulder broader responsibilities, the Department continues its evolution today in response to changing resource needs and priorities.