DNR Environmental Review Program

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has ceased to accept review requests to the Environmental Review (ER) Program after September 16, 2011. Funding for the program was not included in the state budget for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2011. Project review requests can be sent to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), a program of Michigan State University Extension.

The Environmental Review program started in 1980. This program was created to proactively conserve endangered species. The DNR Wildlife Division and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) worked with businesses and citizens on a project-by-project basis to minimize harm to rare fish, wildlife and plants. This cooperative program balanced environmental concerns and economic development goals. The Environmental Review program is related to Part 365, Endangered Species Protection, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Act 451 of the Michigan Public Acts of 1994), which remains in place. During Fiscal Year 2010, 2,366 environmental reviews were requested.

Examples of projects that were reviewed include wind turbines, gypsy moth treatments, sea lamprey treatments, transportation improvements (airports, waterways, highways), new housing developments and telecommunication towers. Environmental reviews were also done as part of permit application reviews within the aquatic nuisance control program, and the land and water interface consolidated permitting process which includes permits in lakes, streams, wetlands, floodplains, dunes and the Great Lakes. The DEQ will continue to screen permit applications for the potential need for Part 365 permits.

MNFI will review projects for potential impacts to endangered species, but there will now be a cost to the requestor for these services. For information on environmental reviews or to request environmental reviews, contact Mike Sanders, Senior Conservation Scientist, at 517-284-6215 or sander75@msu.edu. Private environmental consultants also may be contacted to perform assessments of proposed projects and their potential to harm protected species. See a list of consultants with Michigan Endangered Species Permits.

Endangered species and wetland laws remain in place. Under Part 365 of Public Act 451 people are not allowed to take or harm any endangered or threatened fish, plants or wildlife. That DNR still will be responsible for issuing permits and enforcement relative to the take of endangered and threatened species.