Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommends $37.8 million to boost outdoor recreation

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Pond in Forest

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended Wednesday to the Michigan Legislature that 76 recreation development projects and land acquisitions totaling $37,789,600 be funded in 2021. The board this year considered a total of 136 applications seeking over $60 million in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated based on scoring criteria approved by the Trust Fund board.

“Easy access to the beauty of Michigan’s natural places and open spaces during a challenging, uncertain year has been a source of comfort and connection for residents across our state, and the Trust Fund is a major part of making those opportunities available,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Whether you’re enjoying a trail or park close to home or exploring the deep forest, outdoor recreation resources like these are big contributors to each community’s quality of life and unique appeal.”

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 $27,289,600 for acquisition grants and $10,500,000 for development grants. There were 26 acquisition grants awarded to local units of government for a total of $20,805,400, while four acquisition grants went to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for projects totaling $6,484,200. The Trust Fund board also recommended a total of $9,300,000 in 42 development grants be awarded to local units of government while four DNR projects garnered a total of $1,200,000.

“This year’s grant recommendations represent a broad range of land acquisition and outdoor development projects that will make a real difference,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “With the results of Proposal 1 this fall, it’s clear that Michigan’s residents support this program and its continued investment in projects that speak to the recreational needs of communities across our state.”

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 44 years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1.2 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve recreation opportunities in Michigan.

“Under the challenges of gathering with friends and family this year, outdoor spaces and public recreation played a major component in people’s lives,” said Trust Fund board chair Bill Rustem. “This program’s ability to continue to acquire and develop parks and green spaces is more important now than ever to ensure that every Michigander has access to the state’s natural resources.”

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