The Michigan Natural Resources Commission has honored longtime conservationist Dennis Muchmore with the Thomas L. Washington Lifetime Commitment to Conservation Award. The award was presented at the commission’s regular monthly meeting Thursday at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing, Michigan.
Muchmore is an avid outdoorsman who repeatedly has found ways to bring innovative leadership and a great deal of energy to the programs and initiatives under his direction.
Long active with Michigan United Conservation Clubs, both before and after his stint as MUCC’s executive director, Muchmore was instrumental in implementing a more effective membership rate structure, creating better opportunity for women and young people who wanted to grow their careers within MUCC, and connecting more people – especially youth – to Michigan’s great outdoors and the many recreation opportunities available.
He also played a key role in bringing to life the NRC Youth Conservation Council that provides a platform for young voices in the conservation conversation, and the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit, which brings a little taste of Up North to Detroit-area residents and visitors.
Muchmore said it was in the mid-1970s, when Sen. Kerry Kammer and John Hertel and others were backing a program that later became the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, that he first really took note of the issue – conservation – that would become his passion.
“After the Trust Fund came the “bottle bill,” protection for lakes and streams and, of course, protection for the critters,” Muchmore said. “All of these things I was involved in that were tied to representing conservation and wise use of Michigan’s natural resources, these are the things of which I’m most proud.”
Muchmore was nominated for the award by Tim Nichols and J.R. Richardson, current members of the Natural Resources Commission.
NRC chair John Matonich said that given Muchmore’s professional and personal contributions in the field of conservation, he is an excellent candidate for this award.
“When you look at all he has done to strengthen conservation efforts across Michigan and to educate and inspire new generations about the management, use and enjoyment of our state’s resources, I honestly can’t think of a more deserving recipient,” Matonich said.
The Thomas L. Washington Lifetime Commitment to Conservation Award is named after the late Tom Washington, the longtime director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs and a former president of the National Rifle Association.
Muchmore said it was gratifying to receive an award tied to the sound management of natural resources.
“Conservation is a special calling for all of us who do this work, and to be honored by the Natural Resources Commission and then receiving an award named after my mentor, Tom Washington, well, that’s as good as it gets,” he said. “From Gene Gazley to Howard Tanner to Keith Creagh, we’ve had some great leadership in this department, and I’m very proud to be associated with all of them and with this honor.”
It sounds like Muchmore’s lifetime achievement in Michigan’s conservation world is still going strong. When asked what excites him about the future of conservation in Michigan, he said “everything.”
“The Iron Belle Trail, the Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Recreation Passport, the continued cleanup of our waters – all these things are in full motion and our efforts are progressing,” he said. “Remember, conservation means wise use of natural resources, not no use.”