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Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommends $27.3 million to boost outdoor recreation

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended Wednesday to the Michigan Legislature that 53 recreation development projects and land acquisitions totaling $27,339,100 be funded in 2024.

The board this year considered a total of 123 applications seeking over $51.9 million in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated based on scoring criteria approved by the Trust Fund board.

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.

“A recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis showcased outdoor recreation as an economic driver to the nation’s economy, and this certainly stands true for Michigan. However, it’s far from the only benefit of outdoor recreation,” said DNR Director Scott Bowen. “Assisted by Trust Fund dollars, outdoor recreation also affords substantial health benefits for all who enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural wonders. Whether enjoying a crisp, fall day while on a leisurely neighborhood stroll, experiencing a summer afternoon in your kayak, or venturing on a winter evening snowshoe hike on a state park trail, the physical and mental health benefits abound.”

This year, the board recommended $17.5 million for acquisition grants and $9.8 million for development grants. There were 13 acquisition grants awarded to local units of government for a total of $10,398,500, while five acquisition grants went to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for projects totaling $7,120,000. The Trust Fund board also recommended a total of $9,820,600 in 35 development grants be awarded to local units of government.

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.

“No other state has a constitutionally protected acquisition fund, like the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund, to purchase land in partnership with municipal entities and rural communities for public recreational purposes,” said Trust Fund Board Chair Steve Hamp. “No other state has the same fund for the development and improvement of existing recreational facilities, creating and improving beaches, parks, marinas, hunting preserves, kayak launches, stretches of prime fishing rivers and lakes, trail systems and much more.”

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.

Accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Playground: This accessible playground at Gratiot Park, Port Huron, in St. Clair County, was built with support of a past Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant.