Gov. Whitmer approves $28 million in outdoor recreation development and acquisition grants

Michigan News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provides an update on coronavirus in Michigan during a May 26, 2020, press briefing as Dr. Joneigh Khaldu, the state’s chief medical executive, looks on. (Courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed legislation creating more opportunities for quality outdoor recreation by authorizing $28.7 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants.  

“Over the past months as Michigan continues to combat COVID-19, we’ve seen just how important having access to public land, developed parks, trails and outdoor recreation is for all Michiganders,” said Gov. Whitmer.

“In communities throughout the state, the Natural Resources Trust Fund grant program provides essential opportunities for people to continue to get outside and recreate safely.”

Senate Bill 145 approves funding for 78 recreation development projects and land purchases recommended by the board. It is now Public Act 145 of 2020.

The Trust Fund board recommends funding to both state and local agencies for development projects and land acquisitions that will increase the quality and quantity of public outdoor recreation opportunities. This round of grant funding reflects continued support of:

  • Acquisitions of high-quality, unique wildlife and fishery habitat for conservation and public access.
  • Trail systems, specifically those – like the Dragon Trail in Newaygo and Mecosta counties – that have broad regional and statewide impact.
  • An extensive range of development projects that expand opportunities across Michigan for outdoor recreation, including development of urban parks and playscapes, sports field enhancements and river access.

This year the board recommended nearly $17.2 million in acquisition grants and  $11.5 million in recreation development grants:

  • Of the $17.2 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $8.1 million would be awarded to local units of government, while the remaining $9.1 million would be awarded to the Department of Natural Resources for diverse projects such as the May Creek Greenway Path in the city of Detroit and a new public fishing access site on the St. Joseph River Water Trail in Berrien County.
  • Of the $11.5 million recommended to fund development grants, $9.6 million would support 51 local government projects and $1.9 million would support nine DNR projects, including new shooting ranges in Roscommon and Barry counties and pathway improvements on Belle Isle in Detroit.
  • Collectively, the $28.7 million of Trust Fund grants is matched with nearly $20.7 million of additional funding for a total of nearly $49.4 million being invested in land acquisition and development projects across the state.

“Michigan places a high value on quality, outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger.

“Trust Fund grants have leveraged additional dollars from local government partners to expand outdoor recreation throughout the state and ensure conservation of Michigan’s unmatched natural resources.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of land for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals, primarily oil and gas, and can only be used for public outdoor recreation. Over the past 40 years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1 billion to local units of government and the DNR to develop and improve public outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan.

The Trust Fund board’s recommendations go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriation process. The Legislature then forwards a bill to the governor for approval.

Descriptions of the development projects and acquisition projects approved by Gov. Whitmer are available at Michigan.gov/MNRTF.

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