Department of Natural Resources
Did you know that over 85% of the DNR’s budget comes from sources other than state taxes (General Fund revenue)? The DNR’s bills are paid from about 50 different funds, many of which have unique revenue streams, including user fees paid by those who hunt, fish, snowmobile, camp, harvest timber, ride off-road vehicles, or otherwise take part in natural resource-based activities.
Information on the revenue sources supporting the DNR budget is provided below along with examples of significant state restricted funds and federal assistance programs connected with these revenue sources.
The single biggest revenue source for the DNR is the Game and Fish Protection Fund, which supports about 20% of the overall DNR budget. The primary source of revenue for the fund is hunting and fishing license fees. The fund supports statewide hunting and fishing programs and the enforcement of hunting and fishing laws.
The Game and Fish Protection Fund also receives money from the Game and Fish Protection Trust Fund, which collects royalties from oil, gas, and mineral extraction or timber sales on Game and Fish-acquired lands. The Game and Fish Protection Fund receives $6 million annually, plus whatever interest and earnings the Game and Fish Protection Trust Fund generates in a year.
The Park Improvement Fund is used for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of state parks and recreation areas. The fund receives state park revenue from camping fees, Recreation Passport fees, non-resident motor vehicle permit fees, concession fees, leases, donations, gifts, and other sources.
The Park Endowment Fund collects the bulk of royalties from oil, gas, and mineral extraction on public land. Until the accumulated principal balance of the fund reaches $800 million, not more than 50 percent of the annual royalty revenue received can be appropriated for expenditure. However, the Legislature may appropriate all interest and earnings and private contributions or other revenue to the fund. Amounts available for expenditure can be used for operations, maintenance, and capital improvements at state parks and for the acquisition of land or rights in land for state parks.
Proceeds from the sale of timber on state forest land helps to fund the Forest Resources Division's management of Michigan’s state forests. This includes foresters, compartment reviews, wildfire protection, and more.
The Waterways Fund is used for the construction, operation, and maintenance of recreational boating facilities; the acquisition of property for recreational boating facilities; and grants to local units of government and state colleges and universities to acquire and develop harbors of refuge and public boating access sites.
The fund receives 51% of the revenue generated from watercraft registration fees. It also receives the majority of the state gasoline tax revenue that is deposited into the Recreation Improvement Account. The Recreation Improvement Account receives 2% of state-imposed taxes on the sale of gasoline after deducting collection costs and refunds. The Waterways Fund receives 80% of the 2% distribution, the Snowmobile Trail Improvement Fund receives 14%, and the remaining balance is retained for recreational projects and administration of the account.
The Waterways Fund also receives Recreation Passport revenue to replace revenue that was lost with the elimination of state boating access site permits.
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act is a law passed in 1937 that collects an excise tax on firearms and ammunition and provides federal aid to states for management and restoration of wildlife. Revenue from an 11% tax on firearms, ammo, bows, quivers, and broad heads; 10% tax on pistols, handguns, and revolvers; and $.43 tax per arrow shaft is collected and appropriated from the Wildlife Restoration Account. The money is split into a few different programs:
Wildlife Restoration Program - Funding is available to the states through formula grants from the Wildlife Restoration Account. The amount of money each state receives is based on the land area of the state (including inland waters) and the number of unique paid licensed hunters in the state. Some of the activities include the acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, wildlife management research, wildlife population surveys and inventories, and acquisition and development of facilities for public access to wildlife resources.
Basic Hunter Education Program - Funding is available to the states through formula grants from the Wildlife Restoration Account. The amount of money each state receives is based on its population. Funding received is to be used for hunter education and the management and development of shooting ranges.
Enhanced Hunter Education and Safety Program - Funding is available to the states through formula grants from the Wildlife Restoration Account. The amount of money each state receives is based on its population. Funding received is to be used for enhancement of hunter and archery education programs and enhancement or construction of firearm shooting ranges and archery ranges.
The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act is a law passed in 1950 that collects taxes on fishing equipment. Revenue from a 10% tax on fishing equipment; 3% tax on electric motors; import duties on tackle, pleasure boats, and yachts; motorboat and small engine fuel taxes, and interest is collected and appropriated from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. The apportionment each state receives is based on the land area of the state (including inland and coastal water area) and the number of paid licensed anglers in the state. The revenue flows through a couple different funds:
Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Restoration Fund - Funds may be used for restoring and managing fish species with material value for sport and recreation purposes and providing aquatic education to the public.
Fish and Wildlife Service Motorboat Access Fund - Funds may be used for providing public access for recreational boating.
State General Fund/General Purpose revenue is primarily generated from personal income, corporate income, insurance, sales, and use taxes. Unlike state restricted revenue, there are no constitutional or statutory restrictions concerning how this revenue may be used. Any funds remaining at the end of a fiscal year lapse back to the General Fund. The DNR receives General Fund appropriations for a variety of purposes, including law enforcement, invasive species prevention and control, wildfire protection, and wildlife disease.
Grant and reimbursement revenue can be received from a variety of private sources (e.g. Detroit Edison; Upper Peninsula Power Company; Kellogg Foundation; various wildlife protection, hunting, and resource advocacy groups; etc.). Gift revenue is also received from the donations of industry and individuals for specific programs or purposes.
Another way to look at the DNR's budget is how the major programs in the department are funded. As mentioned above, some DNR programs receive support from federal and General Fund revenues. However, DNR programs are largely supported by user fees and other natural resource revenue (hunting and fishing license sales, camping fees, timber sales, royalties on oil, gas, and mineral extraction, etc.). Information on how the major programs of the DNR are funded is provided below.
The largest program budget within the DNR is for parks and recreation. The DNR preserves, protects, and manages Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas, as well as the cultural and historical resources found throughout the state parks.
The DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division also manages state forest campgrounds, motorized and non-motorized trails, and state harbors and boating access sites.
Parks and recreation spending is supported by a variety of revenue sources, including sales of Recreation Passports, boat registrations, snowmobile trail stickers, off-road vehicle license fees and trail stickers, camping fees, 2 percent of the state’s gas tax, and royalties from oil, gas, and mineral extraction on public land.
The DNR manages, protects, and provides for the sustainable use of Michigan’s forest resources to provide critical habitat for wildlife, valuable resources for the timber products industry, and outdoor spaces for a variety of recreation activities.
The DNR’s Forest Resources Division is also charged with protecting state forest resources and private land across the state through its nationally-recognized wildfire suppression program. Wildfire suppression efforts are supported by a mix of timber and General Fund revenues.
State forestry spending is largely supported by the timber industry, which pays fees when harvesting timber from state forests. Federal funding is also received from the U.S. Forest Service.
The DNR is charged with the conservation of more than 400 species of animals – the birds and mammals that sustain Michigan’s hunting heritage, as well as nongame wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.
In addition to making science-based decisions concerning hunting regulations, habitat management, public hunting access, and protection of threatened and endangered species, the DNR’s Wildlife Division also co-manages the state forests with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division and is responsible for the state’s game and wildlife management areas.
Wildlife spending is largely supported by hunting license revenue and federal Pittman-Robertson funding. The DNR also receives General Fund revenue to combat wildlife disease.
The DNR’s Law Enforcement Division is home to Michigan’s conservation officers. Conservation officers protect Michigan’s natural resources and environment and the health, safety, and enjoyment of the public through effective law enforcement and education. They, along with other support staff, handle an array of other responsibilities, including education, recreational safety, and public outreach.
The DNR’s Law Enforcement Division also provides investigative and enforcement services and coordinates emergency management and homeland security responsibilities for the department.
Law enforcement spending is supported with federal funding, as well as funding from a variety of state-restricted revenue sources. The single biggest revenue source is Game & Fish Protection funding (revenue from hunting and fishing license fees). The DNR also receives General Fund revenue to support conservation officers, who are often the only law enforcement available to respond to emergency situations in rural communities.
The DNR provides over $40 million in grants through a variety of different programs. Examples include grants for invasive species prevention and control; motorized and non-motorized trail improvements; acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas; fish and wildlife habitat improvement; assistance to county sheriffs for boating, ORV, and snowmobile law enforcement; and the Summer Youth Employment Program.
The DNR protects and manages Michigan’s aquatic resources, including fish populations, other aquatic life, and aquatic habitat, which are held in trust for Michigan’s citizens. The DNR’s Fisheries Division monitors and studies fish populations and other forms of aquatic life, striving to ensure their long-term protection while keeping fishing in Michigan among the nation’s best.
A variety of fish species are hatched and reared at the state’s fish hatcheries. These fish are annually stocked in designated public waters throughout the state to maintain or improve fish populations.
The activities of the DNR’s Fisheries Division are largely supported by revenue from fishing license fees and federal Dingell-Johnson funding. Revenue is also received from legal settlements with companies responsible for resource damages, such as power companies whose hydroelectric plants have caused fish kills.
Communication and customer service encompass the activities of the DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division, the Michigan History Center, and the Michigan Wildlife Council. The DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division provides an array of services, including communications, website administration, retail license sales, marketing, and educational programs.
The Michigan History Center includes the Michigan History Museum, regional history museums, the Archives of Michigan, and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve.
Finally, the Michigan Wildlife Council is entrusted with educating the public about the importance of wildlife conservation and its role in preserving Michigan’s great outdoor heritage for future generations. The activities of the Michigan Wildlife Council are supported by a $1 fee added to the price of each base hunting license, hunt/fish combo license, or all-species fishing license.
The DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division is primarily supported by a mix of restricted revenues, while the Michigan History Center is largely supported by General Fund.
The DNR budget includes funding for the maintenance, repair, and improvement of critical infrastructure supporting the department’s programs. This includes annual investments to maintain and improve state park and recreation area facilities and state and local recreational boating facilities.
The DNR offers financial and technical assistance to local communities to improve and sustain their recreational boating facilities through a grant-in-aid program.
The capital outlay appropriations included in the DNR budget vary from year-to-year but can also include investments in state forest infrastructure, state game and wildlife area infrastructure, wetlands, fisheries infrastructure, and DNR customer service centers and field offices.
The DNR’s capital outlay investments are typically funded with a mix of state restricted revenues, federal revenues, and General Fund.
The DNR budget includes one-time funding for a number of important initiatives. Funding is provided on a one-time basis due to revenue constraints or due to the initiatives being one-time in nature. The initiatives that are funded on a one-time basis and the revenue sources supporting these investments vary from year-to-year.
The DNR’s Finance and Operations Division provides a complete range of financial and administrative support, including budget and financial services, real estate, procurement, grants management, facilities management, field operations support, and business operations.
The division is heavily involved in customer service efforts for both internal and external customers. The financial and administrative responsibilities of the division are funded primarily by a mix of state restricted revenues.
A mix of state restricted revenues and a small amount of General Fund support other administrative programs included in the DNR budget – everything from information technology to property management.
The DNR budget also includes funding for other programs, such as minerals management and Mackinac Island State Historical Parks, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale.