Michigan's Wildlife

Michigan Conservation Districts provide private landowners with a wide range of wildlife information, assistance and program delivery to address wildlife habitat and species management.  This page highlights the various programs Conservation Districts provide.  For detailed information on programs and assistance available through your local Conservation District, contact your Conservation District directly.

Natural Resource Conservation Service Programs Michigan Forestry Assistance Program  Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative  Michigan Hunter Access Program  District Wildlife Habitat Plant Fundraisers 

Natural Resource Conservation Service Programs

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides natural resources conservation programs to help people reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters.

The NRCS provides financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to address wildlife habitat on working lands. The Wildlife funding pool is available to producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat, including but not limited to the Implementation of practices which:

  • • benefit threatened and endangered, at-risk, candidate, or species of concern,
  • • retain wildlife and plant habitat on land exiting the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or other set-aside program,
  • • benefit honey bee populations or other pollinators,
  • • improve habitat for aquatic wildlife,
  • • result in the management control of noxious or invasive plant species on non-cropland
  • • result in practice installation on land that is directly adjacent to surface water and result in improved water quality by decreasing nutrients, sediment, pathogens, or agricultural chemicals delivered to surface waters,
  • • result in livestock being excluded from forest land or environmentally sensitive areas
  • • specifically address the control of invasive species,
  • • establish Conservation Cover, Windbreak/Shelterbelts, Riparian Herbaceous Cover, Riparian Forest Buffer, Filter Strip, Tree/Shrub Establishment, Forest Stand Improvement,
  • • result in additional habitat for a documented Threatened, Endangered, Special Concern Species, or a Michigan At-Risk Indicator Species, 
  • • create young age forest for woodcock in the Michigan American Woodcock Priority Areas, 
  • • improve mesic conifers by planting hemlock, white pine and/or white spruce in the Mesic Conifer Priority Areas (Upper Peninsula),
  • • improve fish habitat (Riparian Buffers, Stream Habitat Improvement and Management),
  • • result in aspen, birch, or jack pine regeneration, 
  • • implement one or more of the following management practices on grasslands: Prescribed Burning, Herbaceous Weed Control, Brush Management, Early Successional Habitat Development/Management,
  • • improve the management of autumn olive in grasslands,
  • • address pheasant/quail habitat improvement by planting shrubs or a switchgrass stand for winter cover.

NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program Page
NRCS EQIP Honey Bee Initiative Fact Sheet

This material is based upon work supported by the Natural resource Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture under Agreement # 68-5D21-14-17.  Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Michigan Forestry Assistance Program

Michigan Conservation Disricts across the state provide education and one-on-one technical assistance to private land owners and to communities with assistance on their forest health issues. Professional foresters work out of 20 District offices, providing coverage for 49 counties in the upper and lower peninsulas in Michigan. The program is made available through an agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), with the purpose of providing assistance through Conservations Districts to help Michigan citizens better understand, plan, manage, protect and utilize their forest resources.

The goal of the program is to provide and increase the active management of non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowner outreach and technical assistance through collaboration and cooperation. A survey conducted by Michigan State University of non-industrial private forest landowners concludes that only 20% of the 11 million acre resource is actively managed. The Forestry Assistance Program will work with local Conservation Districts to increase the number of landowners and acres that are managed under a sustainable forest management plan.

The Forestry Assistance Program does not intend to compete with private sector business. Our foresters do not write management plans, administer timber sales, or provide any other service that could otherwise be provided by the private sector.

Click Here for a current map of Conservation Districts with Forestry Assistance Foresters and the counties currently covered through this program.

Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative 


Michigan Conservation Districts is partnering with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Environment and other conservation organizations on the new Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative (MPRI). The initiative will help facilitate a revitalization of Michigan pheasants as well as benefiting the many other species that utilize grasslands.

The program currently focuses efforts in the following three zones:
  • • Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties
  • • Gratiot, Saginaw, and Clinton counties
  • • Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe counties

Conservation Districts within these pilot zones have a technician who will work with eligible landowners and provide guidance and assistance on habitat prescriptions for pheasants. To be eligible, landowners must work together to devote large blocks of land that could serve as a patchwork of different privately owned lands set aside for habitat. This is a cooperative initiative that requires a group of property owners to voluntarily agree to work together in "Neighborhood Cooperatives" to implement habitat projects.

Technicians will also also assist cooperatives in identifying federal, state, and private assistance for funding or implementing habitat projects. NRCS and Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide funding to landowners through conservation cost-share programs to install these habitat restoration practices. Chapters of Pheasants Forever will provide free seed to landowners. In some cases, the MDNRE will donate the use of farm implements and planting equipment, and release live pheasant if the area is suitable.

Landowners outside of the three pilot zones are encouraged to participate as well by forming Neighborhood Cooperatives, with  Conservation Districts and Pheasants Forever Chapters available for program guidance.

MPRI Priority Area Map
Conservation District Contact Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative MDNR website

Michigan Hunter Access Program

Michigan's Hunting Access Program (HAP) was created in 1977 to increase public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan where 97 percent of the land base is privately owned. HAP provides access to quality hunting lands close to urban properties is a key component to offering additional hunting opportunities, as well as attracting new and retaining current hunters. Through HAP, the DNR leases private lands from landowners who give licensed hunters access to their property, generally on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters using HAP lands are guests of the landowner and are asked to register each time they visit the property. For landowners, HAP provides financial incentives in southern Michigan for allowing hunters access to their lands and is flexible, allowing landowners to allow all hunting, youth and apprentice hunting only, small game only, deer only or turkey only or a combination. Landowners enrolled in HAP are free from liability as stated in P.A. 451 of 1994: "No cause of action shall arise for injuries to persons hunting on lands leased under HAP unless the injuries were caused by gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct of owner, tenant, or lessee."

Michigan Conservation Districts within the HAP service area provide landowners with information and enrollment assistance.  Visit your local Conservation District to learn more about HAP and visit the DNR webpage links noted here to learn more about the program.