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About a lost Michigan treasure...

This website will tell you about the Michigan Conservation, later Michigan Natural Resources magazine, which was published by the Michigan Department of Conservation (later the Department of Natural Resources) from 1931 to 1999.

The magazine's exquisite span of nearly 70 years contains not just a wealth of text, photos, and maps about of hunting, fishing, camping, forestry, fisheries, natural history, departmental policy, and land management in Michigan (and sometimes beyond), but also the most complete record of conservation history in Michigan for the 20th century.

In its long run, the magazine won numerous awards and accolades for its exceptional journalism and editorship; beautiful art, photography, and design; and high print quality - we used to be able to do things like that in government, for the people; their education; and betterment of society.

After the Michigan Natural Resources's untimely demise (in the disastrous 1990s 'privatization' craze of the engler regime), it seems to have been mostly forgotten by the State as well as public. With no new issues it is relegated to the 'stacks' of libraries (if they haven't discarded the back issues entirely), there are no new articles referenced in other media to draw new readers, and nobody can show off their recently published articles, photos, or illustrations in it.

This website exists to remedy that, at least a little, by showing that there still exists in libraries and personal collections a vast and unsurpassed encyclopedia encompassing thousands of pages of information - of Michigan outdoor news, information, photos & art, maps, lore, opinion, and history!

Looking through the magazine gives some valuable perspective even now, after being gone over 20 years: it tells us a little bit about how things used to be...

Back when going outside was influenced not by the compulsion for 'selfies' or sophisticated 'lifestyle marketing' and brand identity, but by the pleasure of pursuing one's self-developed interests in an enjoyable and way of life. Back when the promotion of knowledge and skills was more important in publishing an 'outdoors' magazine than the promotion of the latest 'gear' or fads. When the colors of nature were considered the attraction, not the garish colors of product logos. When people cared more about being outside than being identified with going outside. Before outdoor activities were the consumptive, destructive, crowded, loud, expensive, marketing pushed, motor-driven exercises they seem to have become.

Back when people could walk in - or dare say even stop, look, and listen to - the wilds and their inhabitants rather than needing to drive through or over the land or water seated in an ass-cradling leather throne with TV screen and sound system. Back when people loved a place because of their experiences there and the significance of a place rather than 'doing' a place 'before they die' so they can zap a picture from their i-phone to their facebook and rush to the next. Back when a leaky tent or ratty cabin was enough rather than a motor home or trophy house with all the gadgets. When people were able to think and act for themselves, and walk rather than ride, read rather than be 'influenced' by some far-away internet surveillance & advertising company.

Compare, say, a 1960 MC magazine to a 2015 popular 'outdoors' magazine: The difference is understanding vs. domination; pleasure vs. consumerism; the sounds of nature vs. the sound of money or motors.

What the hell's happened to our relationship with the land? A lot, and a lot of it for the worse, but we can at least see if we want to that it used to be different.

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Website by Robert Liebermann | © and last edit: 2021.05.25
location: http://michiganconservation.net/