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Gov. Whitmer approves $26 million in outdoor recreation development and acquisition grants

$26 Million is being distributed to communities throughout the state in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants.

“Creating more avenues for people to connect with Michigan’s beautiful outdoor spaces encompasses what Pure Michigan means. Investing in Michigan’s beautiful outdoor spaces can help economic growth while providing a physical and mental health boost to Michiganders,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund support is critical to opening up more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.”

House Bill 4244, sponsored by Rep. Phil Green, approves funding for 64 recreation development projects and land purchases recommended by the board. It is now Public Act 12 of 2019.

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:

  • Trail systems, specifically those – like the Iron Belle Trail – with broad regional and statewide impact.
  • Acquisitions of high-quality, unique natural resources including scenic river frontage, geologic features, wildlife habitat and Great Lake access.
  • An extensive range of development projects that expand opportunities across Michigan for camping, fishing, biking, hiking and snowmobiling.

This year the board recommended $18.6 million in acquisition grants and nearly $7.4 million in recreation development grants. Of the $18.6 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $12 million would be awarded to local units of government, while the remaining $6.6 million would be awarded to the Department of Natural Resources to support diverse projects.

Several organizations in the Upper Peninsula will benefit from these grants, including the Copper Country.

Baraga County – Point Abbaye Natural Area Pathway & Picnic Improvements – $49,500–Development project at Baraga County’s Point Abbaye Natural Area to create a barrier-free pathway from the existing parking area out to the point. Point Abbaye is a remote and rocky peninsula situated between Lake Superior and Keweenaw Bay.  The project will develop four new picnic sites with tables and grills along the pathway. The site also features accessible and primitive tent camping opportunities.

Keweenaw County – Grant Township, Keweenaw Point Trail – High Rock to Montreal River -$297,000–Development of 15.6 miles of a 30-mile bike-optimized, looped multi-use non-motorized trail through rugged and remote terrain paralleling Lake Superior at Keweenaw Point near Copper
Harbor on state land. The single-track trail will be open to both cyclists and hikers.  This project is a joint effort of Grant Township, the Copper Harbor Trails Club and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  This project is the final phase of an effort to provide a unique remote, non-motorized back-country trail experience. The project expands non-motorized trail access to unique and scenic geography acquired with funding from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and will help sustain and expand recreational tourism in the region.

Of the $7.4 million recommended to fund development grants, $6.8 million would support 30 local government projects and $540,000 would support four DNR projects.

Collectively, the $26 million of Trust Fund grants is matched with nearly $16 million of additional funding for a total of $41.9 million being invested in land acquisition and development projects across the state.

“I am proud that this legislation authorizing Trust Fund grants enjoyed such strong, bipartisan support throughout the Legislature,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “This action sends the message that Michigan places a high value on quality, outdoor recreation opportunities, and that we’re committed to protecting our beautiful, natural spaces for everyone’s use and enjoyment.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund that was 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 40 years, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1 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 her approval.

Descriptions of the development projects and acquisition projects approved by Gov. Whitmer are available at Michigan.gov/MNRTF.

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