Archaeological Exploration on State-owned Lands

It shall be the policy of the Department to manage state-owned lands in a manner that protects and enhances the public trust while providing for the use and enjoyment of those lands as outlined in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, PA 451 of 1994, as amended. Applications to perform archaeological explorations on state-owned lands will be considered and may be approved if a proposed exploration is consistent with other public interest, natural resource values, and historical values.

The purpose of the archaeological exploration on state-owned lands application for permit process is to provide for the appropriate discovery and removal of state-owned aboriginal antiquities and other artifacts with historical value, and to ensure that state property rights to prehistoric and modern period (i.e. post-European contact) artifacts located on and within state-owned lands are recognized and preserved. Recovery of aboriginal antiquities and records, and other artifacts, from state-owned lands is governed by state law and through a permit program administered jointly by the DNR, Finance and Operations Division and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

Information regarding archaeological exploration can be found online by visiting
All archaeological exploration to be performed on state-owned lands, except for lands owned and controlled by the Mackinac Island State Parks Commission, by applicant(s) requires the application process be completed and a permit be executed prior to any activities taking place. The permit provides for proper search, removal, and disposition of aboriginal antiquities and records, and other artifacts, and for coordination between SHPO and the DNR.
All archaeological materials found, disturbed, recovered, removed (with or without permit), or in violation of permit shall be considered the property of the State of Michigan and delivered to SHPO at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, State Historic Preservation Office, 702 West Kalamazoo, 5th Floor, Lansing, MI 48909 for review and disposition, unless prior arrangements have been made with SHPO as described in the permit.
Archaeological exploration permits expire on December 31st of the calendar year of issuance. A new application must be submitted for the next calendar year if the project requires additional exploration and/or additional land not originally disclosed on the initial application.