Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and I wanted to take the opportunity whilst folks are reflecting on their impact on the environment, to talk a little about public lands. Growing up many of my opportunities to explore, recreate and connect with the natural world have occurred on public land here in Michigan. For the next few weeks, I intend to write a series about the different types of public land as well as the many different uses and management strategies.
According to a report conducted by the Congressional Research Service, the Federal government manages 640 million acres of public land in total. Here in Michigan, there are approximately 3,635,741 acres of federally managed public land. There are 2,874,075 acres managed by the US Forest Service, 631,852 acres managed by the National Park Service, 117,199 acres managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and an additional 12,615 acres by the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Defense.
At the state level, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages almost 4.6 million acres of state public land. Of these include 3.8 million acres of state forests, 363,000 acres of state parks, and 363,000 acres of state game areas.
I feel very lucky to live in a place where I have access to public land, and with Earth Day in mind I am grateful for folks who care for and protect our public land. I look forward to the coming weeks and sharing stories about how folks can recreate safely and be stewards on their public land.