Anxious to see what new DNR office means

Last week came the news that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has created a new office within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that aims to focus on the outdoors not just as a natural resource worth preserving, but also an economic resource worth promoting.

The new DNR Office of Outdoor Recreation and Industry will “will work in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to build awareness of businesses in the outdoor recreation industry, promote outdoor recreation activities across the state, identify emerging recreation trends, and encourage the stewardship of the state’s natural resources,” the News’ Crystal Nelson reported.

The director of the office told Nelson that the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments has already reached out to ask how they might be able to work together, and Mary Beth Stutzman of the Alpena Area Convention and Visitors Bureau called the new initiative “nothing but positive.”

We’ll reserve judgement until this new office gets up and going.

Certainly, Michigan’s lakes, rivers, beaches, forests, wetlands and wildlife are some of the state’s greatest treasures, drawing tourists by the thousands every year to places such as Northeast Michigan. Spending by those tourists is a sizable part of our economy, and we value any efforts to promote and preserve such treasures.

But is a new government office necessary to do so? Didn’t the DNR already work on preserving and promoting nature? Didn’t the state already promote tourism through its Pure Michigan campaigns?

Perhaps the new office is just the ticket, but the answers are not obvious. We’re anxious to see what Gov. Whitmer’s team adds to the state’s efforts.

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