As Michigan’s population continues to change, Gov. Rick Snyder wants to make sure the state parks change, as well, which is why he recently issued an executive order creating a blue-ribbon panel for state parks and outdoor recreation.
The 16-member panel is responsible for ensuring that the role of state parks evolves to meet the needs of Michigan’s changing population.
Some of the state’s most significant natural and cultural resources are protected in the Michigan state parks system. Over 25 million people visit the system’s 100 state parks and recreation areas annually.
“State parks are integral to Michigan’s identity,” Snyder stated in a press release announcing the panel. “They preserve and protect some of our most significant natural and cultural resources. Their natural beauty, recreational opportunities and economic power enhance every corner of Michigan. By working in a thoughtful visionary manner, we will ensure that these treasures adapt as we enter the New Michigan.”
According to Executive Order 10, the panel is responsible for the following:
• Identifying the role of state parks and the importance of outdoor recreation activities.
• Providing a vision for the future of state parks.
• Recommending a strategy for the expansion and proper allocation of expected resources in order to meet the new vision of state parks.
• Proposing a vision and strategy for future consideration aimed at creating stronger linkages between the state park system and county and local parks to maximize use and cost efficiencies.
Among the 16 members of the council, two co-chairpersons have been appointed — Jon Allan, the executive director of environmental policy and intergovernmental affairs for Consumers Energy Co., and Erin McDonough, the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).
The MUCC is the largest statewide conservation organization in the nation with over 42,000 members and 250 affiliated clubs working on its mission of “uniting citizens to conserve and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and protect our outdoor heritage.”
“I am excited for this opportunity to serve on such an important panel with such a distinguished group of members who are committed to Michigan’s future as a leader in outdoor recreation opportunities,” McDonough stated in a press release. “Michigan’s state parks amass more than 25 million visitors annually and are a key component of our outdoor heritage and our economic turn-around. As we look to the future of outdoor recreation in Michigan, what a great opportunity to combine MUCC’s mission of conserving, protecting, and enhancing Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage with the priorities of the state of Michigan.”
The blue ribbon panel is expected to complete a final report with recommendations to the governor in September 2012.