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Gov. Whitmer approves $23.3 million in outdoor recreation development and acquisition grants

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed legislation creating more opportunities for quality outdoor recreation by authorizing $23.3 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants.

“From camping and kayaking to swimming and snowmobiling, Pure Michigan offers us world-class recreation right in our backyard,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Since 1976, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has helped us protect our precious natural places and invested in accessible outdoor public recreation. Today’s grants will fund 45 projects across the state, anchoring communities, spurring local economies and making our state a better place to live.”

House Bill 4437 approves funding for the 45 recreation development projects and land purchases recommended by the board. It is now Public Act 119 of 2023.

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 fish habitat for conservation and public access.
  • Trail systems, specifically those – like the Riverwalk Trail and Crooked Bridge in Bay County – that have broad 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 $15 million in acquisition grants and $8.3 million in recreation development grants:

  • Of the $15 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $4.3 million would be awarded to local units of government, while the remaining $10.7 million would be awarded to the Department of Natural Resources for diverse projects such as land consolidation at Jaxon Creek Headwaters in Grand Traverse County.
  • All of the $8.3 million recommended to fund development grants would support 30 local government projects.
  • Collectively, the $23.3 million of Trust Fund grants is matched with over $15.8 million of additional funding for a total of $39.1 million being invested in land acquisition and development projects across the state.

“Since its inception, the Trust Fund has awarded more than $1.3 billion in grants to local governments and state agencies, greatly benefiting the quality of life for the people of Michigan,” said acting DNR Director Shannon Lott. “By leveraging dollars from local government partners, the Trust Fund has dramatically influenced the quantity and quality of outdoor recreation opportunities available to residents and visitors of all ages and abilities while continuing to conserve our natural resources.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund 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 45-plus years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1.3 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 approved development and acquisition projects are available at