Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation that will allow the Department of Natural Resources to better protect Michigan's natural resources by allowing volunteers to take on a larger role in the state's land and wildlife conservation efforts.
The DNR has long relied on volunteers to help ensure the state's natural areas remain accessible, but under current law, volunteers are limited to assisting with park operations and maintenance. House Bill 4111, sponsored by state Rep. Bruce Rendon, removes restrictions on most types of duties volunteers may perform, opening up opportunities for volunteers to work on a wide range of conservation projects such as improving wildlife habitats in state forest areas and wetland preservation.
"One of the great things about this state is the number of individuals and community groups who are willing to devote their time and energy to making our park system something everyone can enjoy," Snyder said. "By expanding volunteer opportunities, the state will be able to use taxpayer resources more efficiently and maximize our conservation efforts. This is a perfect example of the kind of cooperation we want to encourage at all levels."
DNR Director Rodney Stokes added, "This new law will help us ensure we have tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities now and in the future."
In addition to allowing volunteers to work outside the state park system, they will also be able to use DNR equipment and machinery at the department's discretion, and they will be protected from lawsuits resulting from their work.
H.B. 4111 is now Public Act 65 of 2011.