Detroit Free Press Name Michigan DNR ‘Green Leader’ of the Year

Detroit Free Press names DNR Parks and Recreation Division public sector ‘Green Leader’ of the year

Detroit Free Press names DNR Parks and Recreation Division  public sector 'Green Leader' of the year
Detroit Free Press names DNR Parks and Recreation Division
public sector ‘Green Leader’ of the year
Michigan DNR
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan -( An independent panel of judges recently named the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division among this year’s Detroit Free Press “Green Leaders” – organizations, schools, businesses, nonprofits and individuals that are working to make our state a cleaner place to live. The DNR division captured top honors in the public sector category.

The DNR’s mission of protecting natural resources inherently supports environmental sustainability.

The Parks and Recreation Division has implemented several “green initiatives” to pursue that goal and to educate the 22 million annual state park visitors on how they can do the same in their homes and communities.

“Our division is honored to receive the Detroit Free Press ‘Green Leader’ award in recognition of our green initiatives,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson. “It highlights our commitment to and investment in environmentally friendly practices at Michigan state parks.

“We are committed to serving as responsible stewards of our natural resources, and we look forward to further improvements and expansion of green initiatives at Michigan state parks.”

Since 2006, the annual Chief’s Energy Challenge has encouraged Parks and Recreation Division staff to submit grant proposals for projects focused on environmental sustainability. Through this program, approximately $600,000 has been allocated to green initiatives, resulting in more than $1 million in reduced utility costs.

The division also has an employee Green Initiatives Team that pioneers sustainability efforts, implements pilot programs, shares best practices and provides resources for field staff. The Green Initiatives Team has created such programs as:

  • “Growing, not Mowing” – Designated grassy areas are left unmowed during the warmer months to reduce fossil fuel reliance and emissions and enhance natural habitats.
  • Recycling – Recycling centers are offered at many state parks, harbors and other facilities, as well as in the Lansing Parks and Recreation office. Recycling efforts in Michigan state parks were recently acknowledged by Gov. Rick Snyder at the Governor’s Recycling Summit.
  • Clean Marina Program – All staffed, state-operated harbors implement guidelines from DEQ’s Clean Marina Program, managing boat sewage disposal, litter and fish waste disposal, engine servicing and more to protect the Great Lakes.
  • Eco-friendly charging stations – Several parks have implemented charging stations to help people stay powered up on the go, in an energy-efficient way. This includes electric vehicle charging stations and solar-powered charging stations for mobile devices like phones, laptops and tablets.
  • Green Building Initiative – Several Parks and Recreation Division units have installed eco-friendly facilities such as LEED-certified buildings, wind turbines and permeable paving.
  • Invasive species control – The division’s Stewardship Unit provides guidance and support on the identification, prevention and control of invasive species. This includes hosting volunteer stewardship workdays in Michigan state parks to remove invasive species.

All Detroit Free Press “green leaders” – including the DNR Parks and Recreation Division – will be recognized at an upcoming awards ceremony. Learn more about the division’s commitment to green initiatives at

The Parks and Recreation Division is responsible for the management of Michigan state parks, state forest campgrounds, harbors, boating access sites, trails and historic sites.

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Visit to subscribe now.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities