Plenty of reasons, responsibility to celebrate Earth Day every day

Fifty-one years and counting, and this year – as Michigan residents still seek out safe, socially distant relief from the COVID-19 pandemic – it may be more important than ever to recognize Earth Day and the value of healthy, abundant, public outdoor spaces.

While people around the world will recognize Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, in ways big and small, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is taking the opportunity to highlight yet another reason to celebrate: the department’s centennial anniversary. The DNR’s forerunner, the Department of Conservation, was established in 1921 (March 30, 1921, to be exact).

“We are blessed in Michigan with fresh water, thriving forests, and diverse fish and wildlife populations,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “These unmatched resources not only provide the backdrop for year-round outdoor recreation adventures, they also contribute in a big way to local, regional and state economies.

“During this, our centennial year, and on Earth Day, in particular, it makes sense to shine a light on the many ways residents can lend their energy, action and voice to conservation and volunteer efforts that serve and protect our natural resources. We also want to offer ideas and opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors, explore new recreation pursuits and learn a little more about the history of our department and many partners.”

Here are a few ways to get started:

Enjoy a conversation on the shared history of the DNR and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. How is the modern environmental movement in Michigan rooted in the concerns of early hunters and fishers? What are the big environmental and conservation issues that will face us in the next 100 years? Hear Eichinger, EGLE Director Liesl Clark and author Dave Dempsey talk about conservation, environmentalism and why it all matters to you. Look for it on the DNR Facebook page on Earth Day.

Explore the DNR centennial webpage, where you’ll find an interactive timeline and story map capturing conservation milestones and accomplishments, 100 ways to explore and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources, and a variety of Showcasing the DNR stories (including an Earth Day-themed one coming out Thursday) that capture interesting chapters of department history.

Make a difference. There are many ways to take action to protect the outdoor places you love. Clean up a forest dump site. Help clear out invasive plant species at your favorite state park. Practice the “leave no trace” ethic every time you visit the outdoors. Be a campground, harbor or lighthouse host. Participate in meetings where important resource decisions are made. Visit and get inspired to get involved!