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Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommends $23.3 million to boost outdoor recreation

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended Wednesday to the Michigan Legislature that 45 recreation development projects and land acquisitions totaling $23,306,200 be funded in 2023. The board this year considered a total of 124 applications seeking over $53 million in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated based on scoring criteria approved by the Trust Fund board.

“Since its establishment 46 years ago, the Trust Fund has contributed more than $1.3 billion in grants to local governments, greatly improving the quality of life of Michigan residents and visitors through diverse and accessible outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Whether you’re hiking a paved trail close to home, birdwatching in a community park or watching your grandkids enjoy an accessible playground, all of these Trust Fund-supported experiences greatly benefit our mental and physical health and significantly contribute to local economies.”

The Trust Fund board recommends funding to both state and local agencies for development projects and land acquisitions that will further access to public outdoor recreation.

This year, the board recommended $15 million for acquisition grants and $8.3 million for development grants. There were eight acquisition grants awarded to local units of government for a total of $4,305,500, while seven acquisition grants went to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for projects totaling $10,698,000. The Trust Fund board also recommended a total of $8,302,700 in 30 development grants be awarded to local units of government.

“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, with the tradition of leveraging critical match dollars, plays a vital role for economic and quality-of-life drivers in our state,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Michigan residents and visitors continue to depend on accessible outdoor recreation, like trails, playgrounds, sports fields and parks, to connect with nature while enjoying a break from their daily routines.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest and earnings on funds derived from the revenues of state-owned oil, gas and minerals. Over the past 46 years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1.3 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve recreation opportunities in Michigan.

“We place great value on conserving our unique outdoor spaces and encouraging residents and guests to experience them, and one way we do this is through grants provided by the Trust Fund,” said Sam Cummings, Trust Fund board chair. “These grants are the result of years of strategic stewardship and thoughtful management. It is fitting then, that the benefits of this stewardship are returned to the people through reinvestment in public land.”

The Trust Fund board's recommendations will go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. Upon approval, the Legislature forwards a bill to the governor for her signature.

A list of the final recommendations made by the Trust Fund board is available at Michigan.gov/MNRTF.

Contact: Jon Mayes, 517-284-5954