Natural Areas Recognition

Seventy-eight natural areas on state-owned land are recognized as being documented and secure. This includes 20 areas that are legally dedicated and 18 that were dedicated by the Natural Resources Commission, prior to the 1972 Wilderness and Natural Areas Legislation. Most areas have multiple, overlapping forms of recognition that also include National Natural Landmarks, Proposed Wilderness, Wild and Natural Areas, Park/Forest/Recreation Area Management Plans, and cooperative agreements between the Department and The Nature Conservancy. They range in size from less than one acre to 47,671 acres.

Types of Recognition for Areas on State Land

Legal Dedication
This is the strongest form of protection on both the state and federal level. In Michigan, these areas have been dedicated under the Wilderness and Natural Areas legislation (see "Legislation" section). Federal Wilderness Areas are examples of dedicated areas at the federal level. An act of legislation is required to enact or undo legal dedication at both the state and federal level. To view the State legislation, see the link below:

Administrative Recognition
There are two forms of administrative recognition. Management plans for public lands (parks, forests, game areas, etc.) that incorporate natural areas provide recognition for those areas. These management plans are created through a formal planning process, including a public review, and can only be modified by a planning change (also requiring a public review).

State Natural Areas dedicated by the Natural Resources Commission prior to 1972 are protected through departmental policies. This form of protection requires a formal policy change to be modified.

Cooperative Agreements
This form of recognition is an agreement between two or more parties, recognizing the need for management practices that protect, preserve, and perpetuate the natural values of a given area. The many TNC Natural Areas Registry sites in Michigan are cooperative agreements between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and The Nature Conservancy. National Natural Landmarks are cooperative agreements between the National Parks Service and public or private landowners. Cooperative agreements require the notification of all parties involved to modify the agreement.