Points North: Michigan's apolitical conservation legacy

Feb 12, 2021

Howard Tanner plants some of the first coho salmon in the Platte River in 1966. Michigan's salmon program revolutionized sport fishing across the Great Lakes.
Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A century ago, Michigan decided politics was not useful for protecting the state’s forests, water and wildlife. A commission was set up to manage natural resources without much influence from elected officials.

That was a key part of a plan that worked--Michigan was an environmental leader in the following decades. The state restored large forests, transformed the fisheries in the Great Lakes and created a massive endowment to protect more land.

The Natural Resources Commission turns 100 next month, but much of its power has been chiseled away.


On this episode of Points North Dave Dempsey talks about Michigan’s conservation legacy and future. He’s the author of Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader. He’s also senior advisor at the group FLOW, an advocacy group focused on protecting water.


Read Dave's recent post about the history of Michigan’s DNR and Natural Resources Commission.