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 Sea Grant

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

  • Septic System Education

    Septic System Education news, programming and other resources from MSU Extension.

  • 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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  • Conservation Stewards Program

    An educational 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.

  • 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.

  • Forest Economics and Industry

    The forest products industry is a critical driver of forest conservation and protection in the U.S. Michigan's forest products industry contributes millions of dollars to state, regional, and national economies.

  • Forest Genetics

    We uncover genetic improvements that help ensure critical tree species are more resilient against drought, insects, and diseases. We help stakeholders like nursery growers and land managers across Michigan.

  • Forest Health and Invasive Pests

    Michigan's forests face threats from climate change impacts and a growing list of non-native insects and fungal pathogens. Our work helps inform landowners and forest users how to protect forests from these threats.

  • Michigan Naturalist

    Become a Michigan Naturalist and help protect Michigan’s wildlife heritage.

  • 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

  • Urban Forestry

    Urban forests include the trees, woods, and other green spaces in densely populated areas. These green spaces provide critical benefits to millions of people.

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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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. 

Explore more Environmental & Outdoor Education

  • Conservation Stewards Program

    An educational 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.