Plugging into the power of public lands

Contact: Scott Whitcomb, 231-373-3007 or Kerry Wieber, 517-643-1256
Agency: Natural Resources

June 30, 2020

DNR begins updating strategy for managing more than 4 million acres

What do mountain biking, bird watching, snowmobiling and hunting have in common? Besides being hobbies many Michigan residents and visitors love, these opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors are available across the state thanks to the careful, thoughtful way the Department of Natural Resources takes care of the state’s public lands.

a view of the Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Luce County, MichiganThe DNR is responsible for nearly 4.6 million acres of public lands owned by Michigan residents. When these lands – state parks, trails, game and wildlife areas, forests and other resources – are well managed, they contribute significantly to the health of Michigan’s residents, environment and economy.

The condition and availability of these outdoor spaces close to home are now more critical than ever, with more people out enjoying Michigan’s natural resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hiking a wooded trail, fishing a trout stream, paddling a lazy river – the comfort provided by these outdoor activities underscores the value of Michigan’s public lands and the need to manage them carefully,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “That’s where our public land strategy comes in.”

An autumn forest view near Storey Lake, near the Pigeon RIver County State Forest in northern MichiganThe strategy, originally created in 2013, provides a framework for the conservation and management of public lands to ensure their best use for the benefit of Michigan residents, visitors and the state’s natural resources.

“We set the stage with the original strategy seven years ago, and now we are revisiting it to see how far we’ve come and what adjustments need to be made for the next six years,” said Scott Whitcomb, DNR senior adviser for wildlife and public lands.

An updated public land strategy, which must be submitted to the Michigan Legislature for consideration and approval by July 1, 2021, will explain why a public land base is so important and provide goals, strategies and measurable objectives to guide the DNR in:

  • Protecting and preserving Michigan’s natural and cultural resources.
  • Providing spaces for quality outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Promoting natural resources management.
Lake Michigan shoreline view at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Allegan County, MichiganWhitcomb said that broad public participation is key to ensuring a strong, comprehensive strategy. The DNR invites people to be part of the land strategy process by visiting and using the interactive map to drop a pin on the location of the public lands they value most.

“There’s also a brief, three-question survey where we want people to tell us why public lands matter,” Whitcomb said. “We really want to know what access to these lands means to them and to their family and friends, because their candid answers will assist us in developing the updated strategy.”

Additionally, the DNR will accept public input about the strategy update process via email at More information about the strategy can be found at Drafts and components available for public review and comment will be posted to the website throughout the update process.