Getting More From Public Lands in Michigan
Leaders at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are releasing a new long-range management plan for state lands. Michigan has more than 4.6 million acres of property throughout the state. They encompass state parks and recreation areas, along with state forests, wildlife management areas, and an expanding list of trail corridors.
The state is always working on future plans for one aspect or another of management of the lands. Now it's releasing a comprehensive plan for everything. The plan is now being submitted to the State Legislature for review and potential approval. It’s not as much a spending or budget plan, as it is an overall restructuring of how the department wants to manage state lands with streamlining and changing the way several DNR departments and offices work individually, and together.
A department public release on the long-range plan lists three primary and predictable goals to be accomplished. They are:
Protecting natural and cultural resources.
Providing access to outdoor public recreation opportunities.
Performing responsible natural resources management.
Scott Whitcomb is the DNR’s senior advisor for wildlife and public lands. He says the plan is designed to maintain state lands for future generations as well as the next decade or two. "These goals are important to the health and well-being of Michigan residents - the people who own these public lands - as well as to the quality of life in our state, and our heritage and identity as Michiganders."
Whitcomb explains the goals of the plan look at how to use state lands, as much as how to protect them. "Accomplishing them will ensure that people of all abilities will have diverse and accessible opportunities to hunt, camp, fish, hike, ride trails, and connect with nature and history in ways that are unique to Michigan. It will mean high-quality, resilient natural resources that support fish and wildlife populations and sustainable resource-based industries like forest products and the capacity to explore and support renewable energies."