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The Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. The department strives to protect natural and cultural resources, ensure sustainable recreation use and enjoyment, enable strong natural resource-based economies, improve and build strong relationships and partnerships, and foster effective business practices and good governance.

History of the Department of Natural Resources


Management and protection of Michigan’s natural resources was handled by numerous individual commissions and officials, including the State Geological Survey, the Game and Fish Warden, the Michigan Forestry Commission and the Public Domain Commission.


Enforcement of hunting and fishing laws moved from the local and county level to the state level with the establishment of the state Game and Fish Warden.


Michigan’s state park system was created with the establishment of the Michigan State Park Commission.


The Department of Conservation was created by the legislature to consolidate the individual commissions and officials into one department.


The first Civilian Conservation Corps camps were established in Michigan. The Department of Conservation sponsored and supervised CCC work projects throughout the state.


After the 1963 state constitution was ratified, several additional commissions were moved to the Department of Conservation, including the Water Resources Commission, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and the Waterways Commission.


The Department of Conservation was renamed the Department of Natural Resources.


Michigan’s environmental protection functions were assigned to the DNR.  They remained there until the Department of Environmental Quality was established in 1995.


The Michigan History Center, which is home to a network of museums and historic sites and the Archives of Michigan, became part of the DNR.


at the Archives of Michigan

In addition to content on Michiganology, you can find more original records from the Departments of Natural Resources and Conservation at the Archives of Michigan.

Adult woman and two young girls smile and laugh while paging through historic documents laid out on a wood table.