Department of Natural Resources

(programs now divided between the DNR and the Department of Environmental Quality)

Appropriations Summary

Actual[139]

Recommended

Savings

 

 

 

 

Interdepartmental Grants:

$12,993,800

11,872,800

$1,121,100

Federal Funds:

$78,771,900

76,946,900

$1,825,000

State General Fund/General Purpose:

$95,332,600

94,474,700

$857,900

Special Revenue Funds:

$260,915,700

251,393,000

$9,522,700

 

 

 

 

Gross Appropriation:

$448,014,000

$434,687,400

$13,326,600

In August of 1995, Governor Engler radically changed the organization of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).  He split MDNR into two Departments: the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which will oversee the environmental quality programs previously conducted by MDNR, and the Department of Natural Resources itself, which will manage state park and outdoor sports programs.  The decision was a wise one.  Because the Department of Environmental Quality will answer directly to the Governor with no commission in between, greater political accountability will be achieved; the Governor and his staff will have to take direct responsibility for both the successes and the failures of the new Department.[140]  And this is exactly what the MDNR needs.

The Department of Natural Resources has grown remarkably arrogant in recent years, treating with grave disrespect the basic human right to own property.  Indeed, in its quest to improve environmental and ecological quality within the state, it has too often behaved as if the rights of landowners are mere technicalities.  In short, many in the Department seem to believe that private property rights are often necessarily a barrier to environmental health. This could not be further from the truth.  Private property is the cornerstone of environmental quality.  When one looks at the worst examples of recent environmental degradation, one sees that such catastrophes are due to public, not private ownership of land, and the failure of government to properly enforce both property rights and contracts.  Profits are not inimical to environmental quality, but politics are.[141]

Over the next decade, the state should take radical steps to decrease the power and size of both the MDNR and the MDEQ, as their programs, in far too many cases, are actually obstacles to Michigan's environmental health. A good start toward this goal would be to immediately implement the changes listed below. (It should be noted that all programs listed below are found in the 1995-96 MDNR budget, even though some of them will obviously come under the aegis of the MDEQ. This is due to the fact that the 1995-1996 MDNR budget was approved prior to the official creation of the MDEQ.)