Section 2

Overarching Principles

Specific, identified goals center around the core functions of the agency as defined by the state’s constitution, relevant statutes and agency mission. In addition to these core functions there are standards or tenets, which are equally important and serve as the foundation for our operations, often cutting across all aspects of our mission. These “overarching principles” reflect our ideals and values as an agency and guide our decision making, and we hold them up as commitments to the public we serve.

Accountability/Good Governance

The DNR is committed to being open, transparent, public-facing and accountable to the people of Michigan. Providing input is a primary driver for informed decision making within the department. The DNR offers a range of opportunities, both in person and through technology, for awareness and involvement by the public. In addition, over 20 resident-based boards, committees, councils and commissions hold their public meetings in open, inclusive forums and provide meeting content in a range of accessible formats. When it comes to conducting business, whether that be through timber sales, mineral, oil and gas auctions, or land acquisition, easements and exchanges, the DNR engages in open and competitive processes to ensure fair transactions. Finally, the immense amount of spatial data that researchers, biologists, foresters and planners use in decision making is readily available through the department’s extensive mapping resources and open-data portal.


The DNR will actively promote activities, opportunities and programs associated with public land resources and management throughout the state. Recruiting, retaining and reactivating interest in traditional outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting remain a priority. Adapting to changing interests and seeking out novel ways to communicate with a diverse user base are critical to ensuring all Michiganders can take full advantage of public lands. The DNR will leverage technology and seek new opportunities for engagement so that anyone – all ages, abilities, walks of life – can connect with Michigan’s outdoors. This will be achieved through a variety of outlets, including in-person, educational tools and social media. The DNR also will seek to maintain Michigan’s nationwide reputation as a four-season travel destination through travel and tourism campaigns. Unparalleled natural resources are one of Michigan’s greatest assets and a big part of what makes our state a wonderful place to work, live and play.

Public Safety

The DNR is dedicated to protecting and serving the people, places, and natural and cultural resources of Michigan. The safety of residents enjoying the outdoors is of utmost importance, a priority accomplished through effective law enforcement and helpful public outreach and education. Michigan is home to a diverse population with varying levels of experience and comfort in the outdoors, and the DNR is committed to ensuring that everyone feels safe, secure and welcome on public lands. These lands are used for many purposes – from dog-walking and nature photography to fishing, hunting and riding ORVs. Michigan’s public land base ensures that there’s room for everyone to safely and responsibly enjoy their favorite outdoor activities.


It wouldn’t be possible for the DNR alone to accomplish its mission of conserving, protecting and managing Michigan’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. That’s why strong relationships with diverse groups and organizations are key to expanding opportunities to further that mission and values. Success depends on seeking different perspectives, adding new voices to the conversation surrounding conservation, and honoring long-held traditions even as we adapt.

Such partnerships are based on open communication, trust, similar values and goals, and mutual respect. The DNR is committed to working with partners at the international, tribal, federal, state and local levels, and always with an eye toward potential relationships with new entities. Partnerships with nongovernmental organizations are especially critical to the work of protecting and managing the state’s natural resources. And, finally, partnerships with the public – ranging from community scientists who identify invasive species to the “eyes in the field” who report natural resources violations and concerns – dare invaluable in furthering the work of the DNR.

Public Health

Michigan’s DNR-managed public lands provide residents with close-to-home outdoor recreation opportunities to be physically active and mentally recharge. Hundreds of health studies have reinforced the fact that exposure to nature and time spent outdoors reduce stress, boost immunities, enhance memory, help with chronic pain, stimulate creativity, and more. With all of these benefits, it’s easy to make the case that an investment in public lands is a smart investment in public health.


Michigan’s public lands are bursting with educational opportunities for children and adults alike. In every forest, bending stream and cliffside are whispers of the history of our land and the people who came before us. Responsible management and protection of our natural and cultural resources teach us the importance of conservation. Our public lands are places for families, school groups scholars and everyday explorers to learn.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The DNR is committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in administering and managing Michigan’s public lands. The state’s population is diverse, dynamic and ever-changing, and the lands and facilities we take care of must reflect the different experiences, geography and communities we serve.

Diversity is represented by lands and facilities that are geographically dispersed across the state to provide opportunities close to where people live and work. Public lands should offer a wide range of outdoor experiences on both developed recreation facilities and wild, natural spaces.

Equity involves offering reasonable opportunities to Michigan residents and visitors to experience public lands and pursue recreation. The DNR strives to remove barriers that limit the use and enjoyment of public lands and provide accessibility where possible.

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Goal 1: Protect natural and cultural resources

Central to the mission of the Department of Natural Resources is the commitment to protect Michigan’s natural and cultural resources. The public lands, lakes and rivers we enjoy also are home to diverse plant and animal communities – resources directly tied to Michiganders’ overall health and well-being because of the ecosystem services they provide, the traditions (old and new) they foster and the unique sense of place they create. Ensuring the health and resilience of Michigan’s natural communities ensures they are available for use and enjoyment by current and future generations. This is accomplished at the local level through site-specific management plans that incorporate best practices and are adaptive to new and relevant information. Because our public lands are connected to a larger statewide system, our mission to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species and adapt to climate change starts on public lands.

Strategy 1 (statewide): Sustainably manage and protect fish and wildlife habitat, natural communities and areas that are managed for a specific conservation value.

  • Measurable objective: Use assessment, management and strategic plans adopted by each of the DNR’s resource management divisions to guide and prioritize habitat and natural community management.
    • Measure: Tracking of work toward accomplishment of goals identified in adopted DNR plans.

Strategy 2 (statewide): Develop proactive ways to adapt, prepare and mitigate emerging and existing threats to natural and cultural resources due to climate change.

  • Measurable objective: Identify emerging threats to natural resources due to climate change and determine the appropriate strategy to address them.
    • Measure: List of identified emerging threats and strategies to address them.

Strategy 3 (statewide): Address priority invasive species.

Strategy 4 (statewide): Integrate the role of fire in ecosystem management.

  • Measurable objective: Increase the effectiveness of current prescribed burn efforts necessary for ecological restoration, habitat enhancement and silviculture.
    • Measure: Number of effective prescribed burns and acres conducted on DNR-managed public lands.

Strategy 5 (statewide): Maintain, enhance, replace and remove infrastructure as needed to reduce impacts to natural resources.

  • Measurable objective: Regularly inspect DNR-managed dams and conduct a road-stream crossing inventory on DNR-managed public lands. Use the information gathered to prioritize dam removals and culvert/bridge replacement projects.
    • Measure: Number of dam inspections completed and resulting infrastructure projects.
    • Measure: Completion of road-stream crossing inventory and resulting culvert/bridge projects.

Strategy 6 (statewide): Protect and restore DNR-managed public lands impacted by degradation caused by unauthorized uses.

  • Measurable objective: Identify areas on DNR-managed lands where the natural resources have been degraded by illegal uses, prioritize sites for restoration, and secure funding to complete restoration work.
    • Measure: Number and cost of sites restored.

Strategy 7 (statewide): Identify, protect and interpret cultural resources.

  • Measurable objective: Development and implementation of interpretive plans for historic state parks and underwater cultural resources (particularly shipwrecks).
    • Measure: List of plans developed and/or implemented.

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Goal 2: Provide access to outdoor public recreation opportunities

Outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of the Michigan lifestyle, and well-managed public lands provide the space and broad public access for quality recreation opportunities. Excellent fishing and hunting, backcountry camping, kayaking, geocaching, birdwatching, off-roading, snowmobiling, horseback-riding and more – it all happens on public lands, and it’s part of what consistently draws people and businesses to Michigan as a top travel destination. Residents in the know already take advantage of our public lands, enjoying local opportunities to stay physically active, take up a new pursuit or just appreciate the state’s natural beauty. The DNR is committed to enhancing equal opportunity and inclusive access to these activities and more to users of all abilities.

Strategy 1 (statewide): Provide and maintain diverse recreation experiences while anticipating and responding to trends in outdoor recreation.

  • Measurable objective: Offer diverse and accessible recreation opportunities to meet and exceed resident expectations.
    • Measure: Maintain 80% satisfaction (based 2017 Michigan Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan survey results) with the quality of public outdoor recreation opportunities.

Strategy 2 (statewide): Ensure appropriate access to large blocks of public land to offer a variety of dispersed recreation opportunities such as hunting, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, mushroom hunting, bird watching and backcountry recreation experiences.

  • Measurable objective: Prioritize land acquisition efforts on the consolidation of DNR-managed public lands in an effort to reduce fragmentation and provide for an array of dispersed and backcountry recreation uses.
    • Measure: Number of acres of inholdings acquired.

Strategy 3 (statewide): Provide public water access to the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers and streams. (Access includes walk-in sites, carry-down boating access sites, trailered boating access sites and harbor/marina facilities.)

  • Measurable objective: Develop criteria, prioritize and improve public water access to the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers and streams.
    • Measure: Number of parcels acquired with Great Lakes, inland lake, river or stream access.

Strategy 4 (statewide): Increase access to diverse recreation opportunities in or near urban areas.

  • Measurable objective: Strategically invest in urban recreation spaces as a stimulus for revitalization.
    • Measure: Increase satisfaction with the amount and quality of outdoor recreation close to home using 2017 Michigan Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan survey results as a baseline.

Strategy 5 (statewide): In coordination with local units of government, where appropriate, increase public land ownership in areas that have been identified through a DNR analysis as lacking public lands.

  • Measurable objective 1: Prioritize land acquisition efforts within areas identified as lacking public land ownership to increase opportunities for public outdoor recreation.
    • Measure: Number of acres of land acquired within areas identified as lacking public land ownership.

Strategy 6 (statewide): Improve the more than 13,000-mile state-designated trails network using the 2021 DNR Statewide Trails Plan to guide key metrics and priorities.

  • Measurable objective: Develop regional motorized, nonmotorized and water trails.
    • Measure: Number and mileage of designated water, motorized and nonmotorized trails from the established baseline.

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Goal 3: Perform responsible natural resource management

The Michigan Constitution charges the DNR with the responsibility of conserving and developing the state’s natural resources, a matter of high importance and priority to the public. This duty is further detailed in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, which also tasks the DNR with promotion of public recreational use of state-managed lands, the extraction and storage of mineral products and the sustainable management of forest products. The department carries out that thoughtful management while also guarding against the pollution, impairment or destruction of those treasured resources. This work sets the standard for responsible use, management and enjoyment of Michigan’s remarkable natural resources, while encouraging other private and public landowners to do the same.

Strategy 1 (Upper and Northern Lower peninsulas): Sustainably manage and protect the state forest system while also maintaining dual third-party forest certification.

  • Measurable objective: Manage the state forest annually according to the State Forest Management Plan (which guides sustainable harvest, reforestation work, habitat values and recreation) while maintaining dual third-party forest certification.
    • Measure: Number of acres and volume of timber prescribed, prepared and sold annually.

Strategy 2 (statewide): Facilitate responsible oil and gas, metallic and nonmetallic mineral and underground gas storage development through leasing activities.

  • Measurable objective: Continue to hold regular oil and gas lease auctions and process direct lease requests to make minerals available for production.
    • Measure: Revenue generated annually.

Strategy 3 (statewide): Contribute to a strong and thriving outdoor recreation industry by marketing the abundance and availability of recreation opportunities on DNR-managed public lands.

  • Measurable objective: Highlight DNR-managed public lands and their recreation opportunities in an easily accessible format that is targeted to the public, local units of government, recreation clubs and groups, and recreation industry, among others.
    • Measure: Revenue generated annually by recreation use occurring on DNR-managed lands (for example, overnight camping and state-managed harbor stays and Recreation Passport sales).

Strategy 4 (statewide): Determine the potential of locating utility scale renewable energy on DNR-managed public lands.

  • Measurable objective: Identify and market appropriate sites on DNR-managed public lands for potential renewable energy development.
    • Measure: Total production capacity and number of developed sites.

Strategy 5 (statewide): Identify and address opportunities for climate change mitigation associated with natural resources management on DNR-managed public lands.

  • Measurable objective: Conduct a pilot project to determine the potential for DNR-managed public lands to sequester carbon and market the carbon offset credits generated.
    • Measure: Carbon credits generated and sold.

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