This piece was originally published in the Michigan Out-of-Doors Fall 2022 Magazine
By Nick Green, Editor
It has become too hard to bite my tongue while management decisions impacting our natural resources become a political football.
Since early in Michigan DNR Director Daniel Eichinger’s tenure, the governor who appointed him touted transparency and open processes while the department has been anything but on issues like wolves, motor boat bans, the consent decree negotiations, Proposal G, Camp Grayling and NRC processes.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs has worked hand-in-hand with the department through some of our natural resource’s most trying times, including DDT reforms, rivers on fire in the late 60s, the discovery and management of multiple wildlife diseases, mergers and splittings of departments and divisions, baiting, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the bottle bill and many issues in between. Each of these issues was shaped positively by the DNR and MUCC relationship.
Inevitably, this relationship requires MUCC to push back on the department and demand accountability when our membership tells us to do so.
Through all of this, though, our two organizations have been able to respectfully and amicably work together for more than 85 years to better conservation in Michigan. Past directors have had the courtesy to include MUCC in the important conversations of the day without having to be strong-armed into it — realizing the organization’s value and worth.
We have championed each other’s victories and shared pain in the defeats. MUCC is often the voice folks want to hear when the department says “trust us” or “we can’t do that.” And often, we are the calm, reassuring friend lending credence to the department’s wildlife biologists and its management decisions.
However, MUCC has been the DNR watchdog since 1937, and watchdogs sometimes bite.
When information is kept in a vacuum and important wildlife and habitat management decisions are decided quietly with no public input, we have a duty to spotlight the breakdown in process.
In order for the work of conservation to happen, the bodies pulling the levers need to be open with each other, transparent and communicating.
When MUCC is forced into corners or out of the rooms where those conversations are happening or we are simply not thought to be needed or involved, we have a duty to our membership to engage.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs will not be going anywhere. We will protect the rights of hunters, anglers, trappers and shooters — just as we have for 85 years. We will also ensure that our natural resources are left better than we found them and that the next generation of stewards will be afforded the same opportunities we were. I hope MUCC and the department undertake this mission together.
I would wager a guess there has been no longer lasting partner to the Michigan DNR than Michigan United Conservation Clubs. Let’s not let politics, egos and lack of transparency stain that.
You can join Michigan United Conservation Clubs and receive Michigan Out-of-Doors in your mailbox each quarter. The 100-page quarterly tells your story as a Michigan conservationist.