The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for some new partners to help support state parks, trails, and waterways through sales of branded and co-merchandised products made within the state.

The idea was piloted earlier last year through a collaboration with Chateau Grand Traverse. The Northern Michigan winery introduced the “The Wines of the Great Outdoors” series in partnership with the DNR in May 2015, with a portion of all proceeds committed to supporting Michigan’s parks, trails and waterways.

The three bottles in the collection are Picnic, a semidry white wine, Waters, a sweet white, and Woods, a sweet red. As part of the pilot program, the public was asked to vote on how the donated funds would be allocated. More than 1,300 Michigan residents went online to cast their vote among three projects: improving wayfinding trail signage, improving accessibility, or replacing trees. After nearly a year of collecting ballots, an overwhelming majority were in favor of replacing trees lost to disease.

On April 28, 2016, Chateau Grand Traverse President, Eddie O’Keefe, presented the DNR with a check for $10,000 saying, “As wine grape growers, we are committed to being stewards of the land. To be able to support our state parks with a significant tree-planting program, we can enhance the beauty of our natural areas for people to enjoy for many generations to come.”

Building on the success of this initial program, the DNR is now actively seeking new partners. Ideal candidates would include companies producing clothing, home and automotive goods, furniture and outdoor gear, though not limited to those categories.

Companies and organizations interested in exploring merchandising partnerships with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are invited to meet with department representatives in Traverse City Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19.

This opportunity would give selected partners the ability to sell official “Michigan State Parks, Trails and Waterways” merchandise with options to create location-specific merchandise, such as for Straits State Harbor or Waterloo Recreation Area. The expectation of the DNR is that partners would have existing statewide sales and distribution methods with a history of sales success in the merchandise category proposed.

“These partnerships will allow visitors the opportunity to purchase keepsakes, while also supporting Michigan state parks, trails and waterways,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief, Ron Olson. “We are looking forward to creating a new funding model that not only allows visitors to bring home memorabilia from their trips, but also creates a new funding source for Michigan outdoor recreation.”

Partners will have the option of choosing the kinds of initiatives they would like their products to support. Proceeds can help fund a variety of projects like tree-planting efforts, trail signage, and playground improvements, to name just a few.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.