The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) have announced the formation of an advisory body to identify new collaborative opportunities and further broaden a base of support for outdoor recreation and natural resources stewardship within the state.
The Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council is composed of leaders in Michigan’s outdoor recreation business community, reflecting the manufacturing, retail and service sectors, as well as employers in health, community finance and other leading industries, according to a press release.
The council’s creation recognizes the “tremendous economic contributions” of the state’s outdoor recreation opportunities and businesses and accessible natural resources, “as well as the positive effect those collective assets have on Michigan’s quality of life.”
“Enjoying the great outdoors in many different ways is a significant driver of our state’s economy, and a big part of what draws people to visit, live and work in Michigan,” Gov. Rick Snyder stated in a release. “The creation of the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council will pay dividends in both expanding the outdoor recreation economy and further supporting the enjoyment and stewardship of natural resources for all of Michigan.”
Millions of people participate in some form of outdoor recreation every year, and a recent DNR study found Michiganders spent 2.6 billion days a year engaged in these activities. A national Outdoor Industry Association study states that outdoor recreation generates $26.6 billion in consumer spending each year in Michigan and supports 232,000 jobs.
“This effort will create partnerships that can grow the outdoor recreation economy, as well as increase recreational opportunities and access for everyone – residents and visitors alike,” said NRC Commissioner Chris Tracy, who will chair the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The DNR also plans to hold public regional listening sessions to learn more about the needs and goals of outdoor recreation businesses and unlock potentially innovative ideas about delivering quality outdoor recreation experiences
“There are many potential connections to improve the relevancy of natural resources and outdoor recreation for Michigan,” said Vicki Pontz, NRC chair. “Recommendations that support and improve talent and business recruitment and retention in our state, connect outdoor recreation to healthy living, and anticipate emerging trends in recreation, are immensely valuable.”
The Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council is modeled on similar efforts in eight other states. The Michigan council will be the first in the Midwest.
DNR Director Keith Creagh and Pontz jointly appointed members to the council. In addition to Tracy, they include:
- Suzanne Miller Allen, director of Community Responsibility, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan’s largest health insurer.
- Bo Brines, owner of Little Forks Outfitters, a Midland sporting goods store.
- Troland V. Clay, president and CEO, Mno-Bmadsen, an investment enterprise of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.
- Chris Lampen-Crowell, co-owner of Gazelle Sports, a running gear retailer with five Michigan locations.
- Linda Hubbard, president and COO of Carhartt Inc., a work and outdoor apparel manufacturer.
- Jonathan Jarosz, executive director, Heart of the Lakes, a conservation organization representing the state’s land conservancies and affiliate organizations.
- Andy Lindsay, VP of Sales Americas, Groupe Beneteau Cadillac Operations.
- Chris MacInnes, president and co-owner of Crystal Mountain, a ski and golf resort in Benzie County.
- Tracy Mayer, owner of Backcountry North, a sporting goods retailer with three Michigan locations.
- Steve Nadolski, vice president of commercial accounts, AMROCK, a real estate title company, and part of the Rock Venture family of companies.
- Jeff Poet, president and co-owner of Jay’s Sporting Goods.
- Matt Ruiter, general manager of Velocity USA, a manufacturer of bicycle wheels.
- Chuck Smith, CEO of Hemisphere Design Works, manufacturer of kayaks, fishing boats, canoes, pedal boats and hunting/fishing accessories.
- William Smith, CFO of Detroit RiverFront Conservancy.
- Lindsay Struve, store manager, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) in Ann Arbor.
- Paul Vitrano, vice president of global government relations, Polaris Industries, manufacturer of ORVs and snowmobiles.
- Dennis West, president of Northern Initiatives, a community development financial institution.
The council also will benefit from two ex-officio members representing state agencies:
- Claire Stevens, for Director Kirk Steudle, Michigan Department of Transportation.
- Brenda Stewart, for Director Jeff Mason, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Part of this council’s charge is to identify data-collection mechanisms to provide better service to outdoor recreation enthusiasts and offer opportunities to entrepreneurs. The council also will recommend ways to identify potential improvements for outdoor recreation infrastructure in order to satisfy outdoor recreation demand in Michigan.
The council will make recommendations to the DNR and Natural Resources Commission on ways to improve partnerships, collaborative strategies and policies that will increase the outdoor recreation economy, employment and consumer spending, and support conservation and public recreation assets.