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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 postmarked on or before April 1.

Application materials are generally available 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.

As of January 2011, more than $900 million in MNRTF appropriations have been made for more than 1,250 state and local recreation projects. 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 eight criteria for acquisition applications (nine for development applications):

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

Priority Project Types of the MNRTF Board for 2012 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, 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 submitted to the DNR by the application due date. Applications must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service no later than April 1, 2011.

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) Available:
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, Steve DeBrabander (517-284-5930),

Fiscal Year 2010 Funding Available:
Approximately $30 - 35 million is 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.

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