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On Dec. 27, 2018, Dan Eichinger was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve in her cabinet as the director of the Department of Natural Resources. At age 37 he became the youngest person appointed to this position in the 100 year history of the DNR. Under Eichinger's leadership the DNR has moved swiftly to unlock the potential of 4.5 million acres of state managed public lands to store and sequester carbon and to re-orient long term natural resources planning to focus on climate resiliency. Eichinger played a key role in brokering an agreement between the states of Michigan and Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will lead to the construction of critical barriers to prevent invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes. Modernizing and improving DNR infrastructure has been an ongoing priority of his tenure, which has resulted in the migration to renewable energy for DNR facilities and the announcement by Governor Whitmer to make an historic $450 million investment in state and local park infrastructure.
Recognized by his peers as a thought leader in contemporary natural resources management, Eichinger has been elected vice chair of the Executive Committee for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) after serving an elected term as secretary treasurer. He is a trustee of the Conservation Enhancement Fund for the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) and chairs the MAFWA Investments Committee. In 2019 Eichinger was nominated and appointed to the North American Wetland Conservation Council and currently serves as vice chair of that group. Eichinger is the chair of the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, serves on the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, is on the board of directors for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and is a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club, serving on their Conservation Policy Committee. In 2021 he was named one of "50 Names to Know in Government" by Crain's Detroit Business.
Prior to his appointment as DNR director, Eichinger served as the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan's state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. Prior to that he was an administrator at Central Michigan University, served in a number of other roles in the DNR, and was a policy advisor to then Lt. Gov. John D. Cherry, Jr. in the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Eichinger earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University, a Master of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University, and a Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University. Eichinger and his wife have two children and reside in rural Isabella County, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and camping.