Public lands - owned by you, managed by the DNR

Forests, parks, trails, hunting land and more

We manage over 4.6 million acres of public land owned by Michigan citizens. The quality of life we all value in our state is driven in large part by the sound management of these public lands. They impact the health of our families, the condition of our environment and the strength of our economy in positive, significant ways.  

Michigan's land offers great diversity in terms of use and benefits. From grasslands to forests, lakes to wetlands, this diversity is at the heart of Michigan’s character. Snowmobile trails, waterway access, hunting areas, campgrounds, hiking trails, wetlands and historic parks are just some of the benefits provided by our public land.

Here is the breakdown of how these lands are used:

  • State forests - over 3.8 million acres:  Managed for reforestation, timber harvest, timber health, recreation such as hunting and fishing, water quality protection and wildlife habitat.
  • State parks - 352,000 acres: Provide recreational opportunities such as camping, fishing and hiking, and also are managed to support wildlife.
  • State game areas 360,000 acres: Provide excellent hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Economic value of public lands

DNR-managed public lands support:

  • A timber industry that generates $20 billion for Michigan’s economy and employs 35,000 people
  • A $22.8 billion tourism industry, with 6 of Michigan’s top 10 tourist destinations being on public land
  • 680,000 hunters who pump $2.3 billion into our economy
  • 1.1 million anglers who generate $2.5 billion for Michigan’s economy
  • Oil and gas production, natural gas storage, and mineral development that play a very important role in contributing to our economy

Public Act 240 and Michigan's Managed Public Land Strategy

PA 240
Public Act 240 of 2012 (PA 240)

PA 240 required the development of a written strategic plan for public land management, tying the amount of public land that we can manage to the Legislature’s approval of the strategic plan. This plan was to be created with input from the public and local units of government. The act also required we post to our website the number of acres of land we manage north and south of the Mason-Arenac line, in total for the state, and by program.  

Read the entire text of PA 240

Number of acres of land managed by the DNR, by location and by program

Michigan's Managed Public Land Strategy

Why the Strategy was created:

Public Act 240 of 2012 required the creation of a strategic plan for public land management. The resulting plan is Michigan's Managed Public Land Strategy, created in collaboration with a broad range of partners. The Strategy provides a framework for the continued conservation, use and management of public lands to provide an enhanced quality of life for residents and visitors and ensure the best use of public land.

Read the full text of Michigan's Public Land Strategy

Read the highlights from the Strategy

Appendices to the Strategy:

This collection of documents shows how public land is acquired, sold and used in Michigan. The documents in these appendices summarize economic activity involving DNR-managed public land, show examples of how public land was sold to support economic activity, and summarize previous land management reports. 

Read the appendices (1-5)

County maps of DNR-managed public land (appendix 6):

DNR Project Boundaries Maps

Project boundaries are geographic lines that help define the state’s public lands acquisition and disposal strategy (Michigan's Managed Public Land Strategy). As part of the strategy, we will improve project boundary alignments of public lands to more closely reflect actual land ownership. There currently are about 1.9 million acres of privately owned lands scattered within the project boundaries.

The following maps show the boundaries that were approved by the Natural Resources Commission in May, 2004. The maps for each county show the project boundaries overlaid on DNR ownership. (Please note: there is no map for Genesee County, as there are no project boundaries within that county).

To view a map, select a county from the state map or list.

Pause the pointer over a county on the map to view the county name.

View legend

DNR Project Boundaries MapAlcona County Alger County Charlevoix County Alpena County St. Joseph County Arenac County Lake County Bay County Eaton County Isabella County Kalkaska County Van Buren County Cheboygan County Chippewa County Allegan County Clinton County Crawford County Delta County Dickinson County Ionia County Wexford County Genesee County Gladwin County Gogebic County Oceana County Gratiot County Hillsdale County Huron County Ingham County Leelanau County Iosco County Iron County Jackson County Kalamazoo County Newaygo County Kent County Keweenaw County Barry County Ottawa County Lenawee County Livingston County Luce County Mackinac County Macomb County Missaukee County Benzie County Mason County Menominee County Midland County Muskegon County Monroe County Manistee County Montmcalm County Calhoun County Branch County Oakland County Berrien County Ogemaw County Mecosta County Oscoda County Otsego County Cass County Presque Isle County Roscommon County Saginaw County St. Clair County Grand Traverse County Sanilac County Schoolcraft County Shiawassee County Tuscola County Clare County Washtenaw County Wayne County Montcalm County Ontonagon County Baraga County Houghton County Marquette County Lapeer County Osceola County Antrim County Emmet County Isle Royal (Keweenaw County)