When you think of our country’s great outdoor recreation destinations, you likely picture the mountains of Colorado or the forested coasts of Oregon. At Michigan Environmental Council, we think Michigan should be held in similar esteem – a place known nationally as a leader in both outdoor adventure and leisure with its own friendly, inclusive atmosphere and offerings.
Michigan is home to more coastline than any other state in the contiguous U.S. We have more public land than any state east of the Mississippi – 102 state parks, thousands of miles of trails and some of the wildest and most remote National Parks in the country. These outdoor assets draw millions of visitors every year and contribute billions to our state’s economy. In fact, Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry is one of the largest in the country with great potential for growth.
Access to Nature for All Residents and Tourists
Brad Garmon, a former MEC program director, worked hard to establish the Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry to support our ever-growing outdoor recreation economy, create new jobs, draw young talent and inspire wonder, all while deepening our state's commitment to conservation and accessible nature. Now, he heads the state department he long advocated for.
But our work did not end with Brad's appointment. We are working to not only protect public land, but to make it accessible to everyone, especially people long denied of it, like those in Black, Brown, low-income, urban and disabled communities.
Our first big achievement came in passing Proposal 1 in 2020. It lifted the financial cap on the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which uses oil and gas royalties and fees to fund millions of dollars in grants for local land protection and expansion projects. It also altered its funding structure, ensuring nature can be accessed by in every urban, suburban and rural community in Michigan. MEC and The Nature Conservancy led the campaign behind Prop 1's 84% voter approval rating.
Now, we are working to see Prop 1's justice-based vision in action by ensuring Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and State Park Endowment Fund grants are distributed throughout the state so all residents and visitors have much-needed access to world-class public lands.
How We Work
- Through our 501(c)4, the Sustainable Michigan Fund
- Through President/CEO Conan Smith's appointment to the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association
- Through Conan's and Vice Chair Bill Wood's appointments to the Pigeon River Country Advisory Council
- With our ally, The Nature Conservancy
- As always, with our member groups
- As always, at the Capitol