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2021-2027 Public Land Strategy

Overarching principles

In addition to the core functions of the DNR, there are standards, which are equally important and serve as the foundation for department operations. These "overarching principles" reflect department ideals, values and priorities, and guide decision making. The principles are commitments to the public and guide the way the DNR cares for the state's natural and cultural resources, including DNR-managed public lands.

Accountability/good governance

The DNR is open, transparent and accountable to the people of Michigan. Public input is a primary driver for informed decision making within the department. The DNR offers a range of opportunities - both in person and via technology - for people who are interested in learning more about and providing feedback about its work. More than 20 resident-based boards, committees, councils and commissions hold their public meetings in open, inclusive forums and provide content in a range of accessible formats following meetings. Public meetings aren't the only time the DNR accepts feedback or comments; people are welcome to call, email or stop by customer service centers when they need assistance. When it comes to conducting business, whether 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. The department is increasingly using technology tools such as interactive maps, open-data portals and online meeting platforms to provide and enhance the public's understanding and participation in decision making processes. Through public meetings, open houses, social media, electronic news bulletins, its website and more, the department remains transparent and provides updates to help people understand how and why decisions are made about DNR-managed public lands.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility

The DNR is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in administering and managing Michigan's public lands. The state's population is diverse, dynamic and ever-changing, and the lands and facilities the department takes care of must reflect the different experiences, geography and communities it serves.

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 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.

Inclusion is the department's commitment to better understand the way people of all abilities experience the outdoors and provide opportunities that make people feel welcome on DNR-managed public lands.

Tied to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, the DNR remains committed to providing accessible year-round recreation for people with disabilities. Through adaptive equipment, track chairs, accessible blinds and more, the department is focused on solutions to make visits to facilities enjoyable and meaningful for all.

Public safety

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


Michigan's DNR-managed public lands are bursting with education opportunities for children and adults alike. The department is committed to creating and providing engaging and relevant education initiatives to help people understand why the work it does is important, how resources are managed and invite them to play a role in helping to take care of those resources. Visitor centers, fish hatcheries, customer service centers, historical sites and the Outdoor Adventure Center in downtown Detroit are just some DNR locations where people can go to learn more. In addition to traditional education opportunities, the department has brought its education programs into homes with virtual programming. Outdoor Skills Academy classes teach people how to fish for steelhead, manage their property for wildlife habitat, hunt turkey and more, which in turn helps the DNR's mission to recruit and retain new users. These engaging methods are helping people learn about management and protection of Michigan's natural and cultural resources while teaching about the importance of conservation. DNR-managed public lands are places for families, school groups, hunters, anglers and everyday explorers to learn and enjoy.

Public health

Spending time outdoors has been shown to benefit overall health and well-being. Hundreds of health studies have reinforced the fact that exposure to nature and time reduces stress, boosts immunities, enhances memory, helps with chronic pain, stimulates creativity and more. With all these benefits, it's easy to make the case that an investment in public lands is a smart investment in public health. DNR-managed public lands provide residents with close-to-home avenues to be physically active and to mentally recharge. The DNR, through its Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, is committed to supporting the health and well-being of Michigan's residents by working with industry partners from many sectors to anticipate emerging trends, create effective policy and elevate outdoor recreation opportunities and resources across Michigan.


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 the department mission and values. Success depends on seeking different perspectives, adding new voices to the conversation surrounding conservation, and honoring long-held traditions as the DNR adapts.

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 (see Appendix D), federal, state and local levels - keeping 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. 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 as well as positive things like wildlife observations to assist with species surveys - are invaluable in furthering the work of the DNR.


The DNR actively promotes 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 and a focus of department outreach and marketing efforts. Adapting to changing interests and looking for novel ways to communicate with a diverse user base, including the media, are critical to ensuring all Michiganders can take full advantage of DNR-managed public lands. The department leverages technology and is committed to seeking new opportunities for engagement so that anyone - all ages, abilities and 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.

Maintenance, stewardship and restoration

DNR-managed public lands, infrastructure and facilities require routine attention and long-term care and maintenance. As one primary example, the department maintains ecological integrity on public lands by fighting invasive species, using prescribed fire effectively and restoring degraded lands. While many DNR-managed public lands programs promote acquiring lands, enhancing facilities and providing new recreation opportunities, there also exists a core commitment to caring for existing lands and amenities through attentive maintenance, stewardship and restoration.

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