In the 20th century, large areas of Michigan’s cutover land have been set aside as state forests, which are used for recreational purposes and for the protection of Michigan’s wildlife. The development and the management of forested areas, as well as of fish and game resources, are the concerns of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The state’s Department of Environmental Quality, established in 1995, handles environmental policy and enforcement issues. Forest fires have been greatly reduced by rapid detection of fires and by campaigns to educate the public in the hazards of fire and in the ways of controlling it. The Land Economic Survey was begun in 1929 to inventory the state’s natural resources in northern Lower Michigan counties with a view to their integrated management. Michigan conservationists claim that this survey was the first of its kind and scope in the country.
To prevent soil erosion and to preserve the fertility of its soil, the state has 83 soil conservation districts that cover all of its farmland. A demonstration project in watershed protection was undertaken on the Rifle River to improve the stream for fish habitation.
Obtaining an adequate supply of water is becoming a problem as cities and industries grow. Some Midwestern cities, including Grand Rapids, are already drawing water from the Great Lakes. However, there is danger of severe pollution of the Great Lakes and smaller lakes and streams. Another concern regarding the state’s waters is the introduction of harmful, nonnative plant and animal species.
Species such as the sea lamprey, zebra mussel, and purple loosestrife were inadvertently spilled into the Great Lakes when cargo ships unloaded ballast water before taking on more cargo. These species and others are known to quickly replace native species, alter the ecosystem, and cost millions of dollars in damage to structures and industries. Michigan has a special office in the Department of Natural Resources charged with monitoring and carrying out research on endangered species in the state. The gray wolf increased from only a few to more than 80 in the mid-1990s, while the Kirtland’s warbler, which was found primarily in north central Michigan, increased from 167 nesting pairs in 1974 to nearly 700 in the mid-1990s.
Although the annual deer-hunting season attracts many hunters, the number of deer that may be taken has been carefully determined to preserve the deer population. In 2008 the state had 65 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; during the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 42 percent. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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