Freedom of Information Act

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT PROCESS FOR DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), MCL 15.231 et seq, provides that certain persons can receive copies or make inspections of most public records of public bodies upon written request. The person must sufficiently describe the records he or she seeks. The public body may charge a fee to cover the cost of complying with a person's FOIA request.

A. How to submit written requests.

FOIA requests to the Department of Natural Resources can be sent by email or mail

Email:

DNR-FOIA-Contact@michigan.gov

Mail:

Freedom of Information Act Officer
Executive Division
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 30028
Lansing, MI 48909-7528
517-284-5808 (Phone) 517-335-4242 (Fax)

Requests should include a name, phone number, and mailing address.

B. How to understand the Department's written responses to FOIA requests.

The Department has several options when responding to written requests for public records. It can grant the FOIA request, deny the request, grant it in part and deny it in part, or take one 10 business day extension. After 10 business days pass, the Department has to respond with one of the other options.

If the request is granted or granted in part and denied in part, the Department can also charge a fee to process the request. There is no fee for requests that do not require the Department to incur costs above the threshold set in its Procedures and Guidelines. Fees are calculated using its procedures and guidelines and you will receive a detailed itemization of the fee. The Department may require you to pay a good-faith deposit before it processes your request. After you pay any deposit and final balance due, the Department will produce records in its possession that fall within the scope of your request and that legally may be disclosed to the public. The Department may also notify you that some of the records you have requested are available on its website.

If the request is denied, the Department will inform you of the basis for its denial in a written notice. Reasons the Department may deny a request include:

  1. You did not describe the records you have requested well enough and the Department cannot determine what you are asking for;

  2. The Department has determined that it does not have records that respond to your request in its possession; or

  3. The records you have requested are exempt from public disclosure.

If all or part of your request is denied, the Department will inform you of your right to appeal its denial to the head of the Department and/or to file a lawsuit against the Department in its written response.

C. Deposit requirements.

If the Department estimates a fee to process a FOIA request greater than $50.00, the Department will require a good-faith deposit from you before providing the public records. The deposit shall not exceed 1/2 of the total estimated fee. Any written notice containing a notice of a deposit shall also contain a best efforts estimate by the Department regarding the time frame after a deposit is received that it will take the Department to provide the public records. The time frame estimate is not binding upon the Department, but the Department shall provide the estimate in good faith and strive to be reasonably accurate and to provide the public records in a manner based on this State's public policy under section 1 of the FOIA, MCL 15.231, and the nature of the request in the particular instance.

D. Fee calculations.

The FOIA permits the Department to charge a fee to process FOIA requests using a form to give you a detailed itemization of the costs involved. The Department may charge for the following costs:

  1. the costs of labor for the search, location, and examination of public records;

  2. the costs of labor for the review of public records and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material;

  3. the cost of nonpaper physical media;

  4. the cost of duplication and publication of public records;

  5. the costs of labor for the duplication or publication of public records;

  6. the actual cost of mailing public records.

E. Avenues for challenge and appeal.

If the Department charges a fee or denies all or part of a request, you may submit to the head of the Department a written appeal that specifically states the word "appeal" and identifies the basis for which the fee should be reduced or the disclosure determination should be reversed. Written appeals may be sent to the email address or mailing address listed above.

F.  TRANSPARENCY LIAISON

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Directive No. 2019-11, states that each department or autonomous agency is required to designate a transparency liaison that shall do the following:

  1. Assist members of the public seeking a public record from the department or agency in navigating the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act or other law applicable to public records, including by providing educational materials on the website of the department or agency.
  2. Assist members of the public seeking to participate in a public meeting held by a board or commission within the department or agency in a manner that complies with the Open Meetings Act, including by providing educational materials on the website.
  3. Make recommendations to the department and agency for compliance with this directive, to reduce costs relating to public records requests, and to encourage greater transparency.
  4. Advocate for the disclosure of public records quickly and in a cost-efficient manner.
  5. Advocate for transparency and procedures that encourage public participation in public meetings.
  6. Consult with the department or agency’s Freedom of Information Act coordinator regarding compliance with this directive and the Freedom of Information Act.
  7. Recommend changes to the department’s or agency’s procedures and guidelines and written public summary of the procedures and guidelines for the department under section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, MCL 15.234.

In compliance with the Executive Directive, the Michigan Department Natural Resources’ Transparency Liaison contact information is:
DNR Transparency Liaison
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 30028
Lansing, MI 48909-7528
Fax: 517-335-4242
PriestJ1@Michigan.gov