Former Michigan Oil & Gas President Frank Mortl Honored for Work towards Conservation

The award – recognizing Mortl’s longtime work with the department to develop the state’s gas and oil resources while protecting natural resources – was presented at the Nov. 6 meeting of the Natural Resources Commission.

Partners in Conservation Frank Mortl
Shown here, left to right, are Mary Uptigrove, manager of the DNR Minerals Management section; Natural Resources Commission Chair J.R. Richardson; Mortl and wife Anne; and DNR Director Keith Creagh.
Michigan DNR MDNR
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Lansing, MI -( The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently recognized Frank Mortl with a Partners in Conservation Award for his decades-long role in working with the DNR to develop gas and oil resources on state-managed land while maintaining a conservation ethic.

Mortl, past president and CEO of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, was honored at Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Lansing.

“Frank did a great job of balancing development of oil and gas resources with our goals of natural resources management and protection,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh.

Creagh credited Mortl with contributing to the creation of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is used exclusively for the acquisition of land for resource protection and outdoor recreation use and the development of outdoor recreation facilities.

Mortl joined the Michigan Oil and Gas Association in 1971, at a time when significant oil resources were discovered in the northeastern Lower Peninsula’s Pigeon River Country State Forest. Although many opposed any development in the “Big Wild,” Mortl worked with the DNR and Michigan United Conservation Clubs to devise a way to fund conservation efforts with oil and gas royalties.

Mortl said he and Tom Washington, then director of MUCC, sketched out the plan for the trust fund on a napkin after a meeting on the subject.

“We worked out a multiuse concept of natural resources management that resulted in the trust fund,” Mortl said. “There were always issues about oil and gas development before the trust fund.”

To date, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund – through a history of grants totaling more than $1 billion – has supported land acquisitions and outdoor recreation projects that benefit residents in every Michigan county.

“I really am truly grateful and honored to accept this award on behalf of myself and the Michigan Oil and Gas Association,” Mortl said.

Partners in Conservation awards are bestowed upon organizations or individuals who have been nominated by DNR staff in recognition of their outstanding contributions to natural resources in Michigan.

About The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)

The Michigan 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. For more information, go to