Making the most of our Natural Resources

Michigan’s natural resources are a fundamental asset for the state’s future economic opportunities and quality of life. How residents can best benefit from its rich natural heritage without overburdening the carrying capacity of its natural systems and reducing opportunities for residents and visitors alike is a challenge. Decisions about resource management will be made in an environment characterized by uncertainties, trade-offs and diverse stakeholder values. 

Water Issues

Nothing presents a challenge and an opportunity more than the use and management of Michigan's abundant water resources. Home to the Great Lakes as well as numerous inland lakes, with an economy that counts on tourism and recreation, MSU Extension and partners such as Michigan Sea Grant seeks to educate officials, stakeholders and advocates about proper water management techniques and current challenges facing the system. 

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  • Michigan Certified Natural Shoreline Partnership

    A collaboration of state agencies, academia, nonprofit organizations and private industry, was formed in 2008 with the belief that a change was necessary in shoreline development practices in Michigan.

  • Michigan Sea Grant

    Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach.

  • Water School

    Michigan Water School is a program to help elected and appointed officials increase their knowledge about water management and gain access to tools and resources to help impact their local economy.

Forestry Education

Michigan is home to 19.3 million acres of forest land covering 53% of the state. Much of that land is privately owned forest, and MSU Extension works to assist state partners and private forest owners in management, education, business enterprise and best practices. Our educational initiatives help landowners and community leaders make more informed decisions for the health and well-being of the community and its natural resources.


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  • Eyes on the Forest

    Linking research, outreach and communication activities to create a network of volunteer “citizen scientists” who select and monitor healthy trees, across the state, and help identify future outbreaks of invasive pests.

  • Forestry (B.S.)

    The Forestry program prepares students to address pressing natural resource, environmental and energy issues through coursework in the biological and social sciences.

  • Michigan Wood Energy

    The Michigan Wood Energy Team promotes analysis, dialog, understanding, and deployment of wood energy systems in Michigan. Email questions or comments to

  • Natural Resource Enterprises

    MSU Extension provides a clearinghouse of news, publications, online resources and program events relevant to Michigan’s abundant natural resource base.

Habitat Inventory

The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has been generating and disseminating the highest quality scientific information on the location and condition of Michigan's rare species and habitats for more than 40 years; the last 19 years as a program of MSU Extension. Its team of experts in ecology, botany, zoology, and aquatic zoology conduct research and field surveys for rare vascular plants and animals (insects, mammals, birds, mussels, snails, reptiles, amphibians, and fish), as well as rare and/or high quality natural communities. It also researches issues related to biodiversity conservation and provides that information and consultation to a wide variety of decision makers, practitioners, and the public. As stewards of the Michigan Natural Heritage Database, one of more than 80 programs in the international NatureServe network, MNFI provides the most authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date scientific information available to guide conservation of Michigan’s biodiversity.

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  • Michigan Natural Features Inventory

    Michigan Natural Features Inventory aims to deliver the highest quality information that contributes to the conservation of biodiversity, especially rare and declining plants and animals and the diversity of ecosystems native to Michigan.

Environmental & Outdoor Education

Understanding and embracing the environment and the issues facing it is something that is not confined to any age range, gender or group. MSU Extension educates youth through outdoor, experiential learning through many Michigan 4-H programs and at the Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi, Michigan. We also advise community leaders, stakeholders and elected officials in the important environmental issues facing the state of Michigan. 

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  • Climate Change & Variability

    This program page contains scientific background and reference materials on climate change and variability. Our hope is that these resources will facilitate discussions and programs aimed at adapting to and slowing down climate change.

  • Class in a field
    Conservation Stewards Program

    A volunteer leader training program designed for those interested in science-based ecosystem management principles and sharing this knowledge with others to help restore and conserve ecosystems throughout Michigan communities.

  • Energy

    MSU Extension programs help landowners negotiate effective oil and natural gas leases and understand the benefits and impacts of development.

  • Oil & Gas

    This page is designed to help landowners and local officials learn more about oil and gas leasing, the issues related to oil and natural gas exploration and sources of information.