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Four Priorities of the DNR
Department of Natural Resources Director Rodney Stokes has outlined immediate priorities for the Department that he will focus his efforts on the first 12 to18 months of his tenure.
The four priorities are:
1. Renewing Our Emphasis on Customer Service
Employees of the DNR have a lot of face-to-face contact with the public. Whether it is with campers in our state parks, hunters or anglers purchasing licenses over the counter at our field offices or working with our stakeholders on use of public lands, DNR employees work directly with customers and groups with wide-ranging interests on many levels. These interactions can have lasting impacts on how the public views the departments programs and facilities. Many Michigan residents and visitors entrust their vacation and leisure time to the DNR but have the option of taking their vacations to other states or other venues when they have a negative interaction with the department.
Director Stokes wants to place a renewed emphasis on customer service so that the Department can continue to build lifelong customers, who repeatedly have high quality, satisfying experiences pursuing outdoor recreation in Michigan. Our customers are the ultimate "quality control" experts on what the DNR is doing well, and what still needs improvement. Listening to our customers, treating them with respect, providing positive interactions and finding creative ways to improve customer service will be the charge of every DNR employee.
2. Building Strong Support for the Recreation Passport
The Recreation Passport is the new funding model for outdoor recreation in Michigan. At a cost of just $11, Michigan motorists can purchase a Recreation Passport when renewing their annual vehicle registration at the Secretary of State's offices, website, or by mail. The Recreation Passport replaces the "window sticker" for state park entrance and boat access sites. It provides much needed support for state parks programs and infrastructure and also supports state forest recreation programs, such as non-motorized pathways and state forest campgrounds. A portion of the Recreation Passport revenue also will be earmarked for a grant program for community parks.
The DNR recognizes that state parks, state forest campgrounds and trails provide an economic boost to the communities nearby. By lowering the entrance fee for state parks to $10 through the Recreation Passport, the Department hopes to broaden the base for funding outdoor recreation programs in Michigan.
Promotion of the Recreation Passport also shares our message with current non-users, providing a reminder of the great opportunities for outdoor recreation in Michigan and the importance of supporting and managing our natural resources.
3. Increasing Resident/Visitor Participation in Outdoor Recreation and Stopping the Decline in Hunting and Fishing
Natural resource management funding is heavily reliant upon fees paid by residents, visitors and businesses that enjoy or use the state's natural resources. Only 4 percent of the DNR's budget comes from the state's General Fund.
One of the larger groups that contribute to the management of natural resources in Michigan is hunters and anglers. Like many states, Michigan has seen a gradual decline in the number of licensed hunters and anglers over the last several years. Nationally, there is a growing concern about the limited time that children experience the out-of-doors.
Director Stokes wants to expand the DNR's efforts to get more hunters and anglers in the field, enjoying Michigan's abundant natural resources. He wants to enhance programs aimed at getting youth interested in hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities, and also place a renewed emphasis on getting more adults involved through programs such as the Hunter Apprentice Program, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, faith-based outreach, the First-Time Camper Program and Recreation 101 in our state parks.
Increasing participation is essential to the DNR's success in protecting, conserving and managing Michigan's natural and cultural resources. The revenue generated by hunting and fishing license sales and camping fees is directly invested in game and fish management and state park and state forest campground operation and maintenance. Boosting participation will ensure the DNR can meet and exceed the expectations of our customers.
4. Fostering the Growth of Michigan's Natural Resource-Based Economy
Michigan's natural resources play a vital role in supporting the state's economy through tourism, forest products and oil and gas exploration. Each year, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, boating and snowmobiling activity in our state generates an economic impact of more than $9 billion a year. Our state forests support a forest products industry and recreational industry that generates $14 billion and 136,000 jobs a year. Oil and gas exploration in Michigan supports 10,000 jobs and generates $2 billion a year in economic activity.
Director Stokes wants the DNR to continue to foster growth in tourism and resource-based industries like mining, forest products and oil and gas exploration and development. The DNR will protect and conserve natural resources, while at the same time managing them for wise use to support natural resources-based industries which have been an important driver of Michigan's economy since its founding as a state. Protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources is a core mission for the Department, but helping our existing or new industries that make use of Michigan's natural resources is an equally important mission.
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