General Program Information for the Natural Resources Trust Fund

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) projects provide for natural resource protection and outdoor recreation. By law, no more than 25 percent of the Trust Fund revenues available for appropriation each year can be used for development, therefore the majority of funding is allocated for acquisition projects.

Applications are accepted annually and must be submitted on or before April 1 of the year of application.

The electronic application process opens in January for the current year application cycle. Final grant recommendations are made by the MNRTF Board of Trustees in late fall and submitted to the Legislature for approval and appropriation of funds. Local grant and DNR applications are evaluated and scored by the staff in Grants Management, using criteria and a point scale established annually by the MNRTF Board. While only state and local governments may apply to the MNRTF, any individual, group, or organization may nominate land for consideration for acquisition. A nomination is a suggestion that a parcel of land be considered for DNR ownership.

MNRTF-assisted project sites must be dedicated to public outdoor recreation in perpetuity. The MNRTF plaque on a park entrance sign or facility indicates that the site received MNRTF assistance.


Applications are evaluated using criteria established by the MNRTF Board of Trustees. Local units of government must provide at least 25% of the project's total costs as local match. Recommendations are made by the MNRTF Board of Trustees to the Governor, which are forwarded to the Michigan Legislature for final approval and appropriation.

There are 10 criteria for acquisition applications (eleven for development applications):

  1. Need for project
  2. Collaboration
  3. Site quality and Project quality
  4. Applicant history
  5. Conversion history
  6. Natural Resource Protection and Use/Recreation Opportunities
  7. Financial Need of the Applicant
  8. Urban Area Recreation Opportunities
  9. Local Match
  10. Entrance Fees
  11. Universal Design (development applications only)

Priority Project Types of the MNRTF Board are:

  • Trails/Greenways
  • Wildlife/Ecological Corridors and Winter Deeryard Acquisitions
  • Projects located within Urban Areas.

Detailed descriptions of each criterion are included in the Recreation Grant Application Guidelines booklet. Applicant Information is available at

Applicant Eligibility:
The state and counties, cities, townships, villages, some school districts, the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, or any authority composed of counties, cities, townships, villages or school districts, or any combination thereof, which authority is legally constituted to provide public recreation. Local units of government must have a DNR-approved 5-year recreation plan on file with the Department prior to application.

Application Process:

  1. Submittal of a community recreation plan
  2. Submittal of grant application
  3. Evaluation by DNR staff
  4. Recommendation of funding by the MichiganMichigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board
  5. Appropriation of project funds by the Legislature

Local community recreation plans must be uploaded to the DNR's Mi RecGrants website by March 1st of the year of application. Applications must be uploaeded no later than April 1, of the year of application.

Grant awards are dependent on the appropriations process, but project agreements are normally distributed within 12 to 18 months after the application submission.

Dollar Amount(s) Limitations:
Development project minimum/maximum grant amount: $15,000 to $300,000. No minimum/maximum limits on land acquisition grants.

Source(s) of Funds:
Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund

Part 19 of P.A. 451 of 1994, as amended

Grants Management, Jon Mayes, (517-284-7268)

Funding Available per Fiscal Year: 

Based on current projections, approximately $15-20 million will be available for grants each year. Available funds are dependent on revenue, investment earnings and interest accruing to the Trust Fund in a particular Fiscal Year.