Index of 1969 issues of Michigan Natural Resources Magazine

In 1969: John Gray was editor, and Russell McKee was associate editor, Charles Schafer was art director, with additional illustrations by Ozz Warbach and Jim Campbell.

Starting in 1969 the magazine's name was changed to "Michigan Natural Resources commensurate with the Department.

This era is what I think of as the height of the "pollution" phase of the magazine, which went from about 1968-1972. Pollution was the buzzword of the day, and was in the public mind because of high-profile events (like the Ohio River catching fire and the hypereutrophication of Lake Erie, and countered with Earth Day and the enactment of the EPA and Clean Water Acts), literature (like Silent Spring), and media (like the famous "crying Indian" PSA), as well as an ever-increasing and visible degradation of the American Landscape littered with roadside and campsite rubbish (increased rapidly following the disposable packaging boom), proliferation of roadside billboard advertising, and a general observation and feeling that "America the Beautiful" was being lost at an alarming rate.

Although this was a serious condition, and the reorganization of the Michigan Department of Conservation to the Department of Natural Resources (and the magazine as well) was a response to the changing mission from education and facilitation of conservation to the active mitigation of effects and enforcement of regulation, the magazine's appeal - to me at least - was attenuated somewhat; perhaps because of the photographic and collage covers of environmental problems that might have instead been beautiful Charles Schaefer paintings of photos of the Great Lakes or Michigan forests!

The change in the magazine's focus was far from total however, and many outdoor sorts of articles continued to appear along with the "pollution" type articles. In fact, the outdoor-appreciation (and total) content was larger than ever. By the mid-1970s the magazine's focus was shifting back toward primarily nature appreciation, hunting & fishing, and the education of Michigan's natural heritage and history, well on its way to what I consider its zenith of the late 1970s to late 1980s as possibly the finest state magazine ever produced (I am biased of course, but mainly because of the quality of MNR and the greatness of Michigan!)

So the "pollution" era of MNR was relatively short-lived, and might have been an attempt to have the magazine follow too closely the DNR's political mission (this State political influence would return much more menacingly in the 1990s). A short overview of the magazine's 50th anniversary history is given in "The Bookend" of the January-February 1981 issue, and mentions that MNR "for a time served as a political weapon of the DNR in various battles such as the fights to control hard pesticides, and reduction of air and water pollution.".

I believe also that the reading public at the time, as do I 40 years later, would prefer to subscribe to and read articles describing and celebrating (to properly use a word that is so overused these days) the great beauty and riches of our state more than depressing content about how it is being lost, no matter how important either message. Then as now there are more subscribers to Audubon than the Journal of Environmental Pollution!

1969 was also the first year when John Gray's opening editorial essays started going by the name "The Meander Line", and Russell McKee's end page essays as (usually) "The Caboose".

[Just covers until I get the issue content pages added later].

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Front cover, Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, January-February 1969


Front cover, Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, March-April 1969


Front cover, Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, May-June 1969


Front cover, Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, July-August 1969


Front cover, Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, September-October 1969


Front cover, Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, November-December 1969