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Snyder signs bills supporting recreation development and natural resource protection

Approves more than $27 million in MNRTF grants, boosts trail projects

Friday, April 11, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation authorizing more than $27.6 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants, with nearly half of the funding allocated to trail development across the state.

The grants support 44 outdoor recreation development projects and 32 land acquisition projects. They also provide $12,959,400 for statewide trail enhancement and will reinforce Michigan’s reputation as the nation’s trail state.

"Our state's outdoor recreation provides unlimited opportunities for Michiganders and visitors to enjoy unmatched natural resources and improve their physical health," Snyder said. "With nearly $13 million in new grant funding to expand our trail system we can link existing corridors, boost tourism, stimulate local economies and ultimately continue Michigan's comeback."

Senate Bill 780, sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher, furthers access to outdoor recreation and reflects the Trust Fund's spending recommendations to allocate funding to both state and local agencies for development projects. It is now Public Act 114 of 2014.

This year's recommendations illustrate the Trust Fund board's focus on trail acquisition and development at the local level. Agencies in Berrien, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Lapeer, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties will share $7,385,800 for seven trail-related acquisitions. Fifteen local and three state trail-related development projects will receive $5,573,600.

"Michigan is home to unique and irreplaceable natural resources that drive local and state economies, and we strongly consider how proposed projects can best support that economic engine," said Sam Cummings, chairman of the MNRTF. "The Trust Fund board is excited and honored to participate in bringing these projects to life. They represent an extraordinary expansion of available recreation opportunities for the state and dozens of communities."

Throughout its history, the MNRTF has provided more than $175 million toward trail development. See the full list of this year's acquisition and development projects here.

The MNRTF is a restricted fund established in 1976 and can only be used to fund public outdoor recreation projects. It provides a funding source for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation. Revenue is derived from interest and earnings on invested funds earned from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights. In 1985, voters made the Trust Fund part of Michigan's Constitution, ensuring the program's future.

Learn more at the Department of Natural Resources website

Snyder also signed legislation improving implementation of the Clean Michigan Initiative.

SB 719, also sponsored by Booher, allows for renegotiation of Clean Michigan loan repayment and interest rates in times of financial hardship in cases where redevelopment of a property does not result in the expected property value increase. It also requires proper reporting of financed loans and any changes to the term of the loans. It is now PA 115 of 2014.

The initiative allows the state to borrow up to $675 million and issue bonds to finance environmental and natural resources protection as part of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Local units of government and Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities may be provided grants totaling a combined $75 million for projects at facilities with redevelopment potential.

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