Michigan debuts office dedicated to outdoor recreation industry

    Sleepy Hollow State Park | Susan J. Demas

    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Friday announced the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry. The office is in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) on behalf of the Michigan Strategic Fund.

    The new office seeks to promote outdoor recreation activities, expand the outdoor recreation economy, collaborate with industry partners and create support for the stewardship of Michigan’s natural resources.

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Andrew Roth

    “Every year, millions of Michiganders spend their summers swimming and kayaking in our Great Lakes, hiking and biking on our trails, and climbing the dunes on Lake Michigan,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “And it’s not just Michiganders, people come here from all over the world because of the outdoor experiences our state has to offer.”

    Whitmer added she wanted to “thank the thousands of industry manufacturers and retail and service-sector businesses.”

    The Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry will be overseen in part by Michigan’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council (established in 2018), the first such council in the Midwest. The council makes recommendations to the DNR and the MEDC on ways to improve partnerships, attract businesses, and support conservation and public recreation assets.

    Kristin Phillips, DNR marketing and outreach division chief, will serve as director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, in addition to her current role.

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    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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