Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Bill Investing in Outdoor Recreation in 76 Communities Across Michigan

Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Bill Investing in Outdoor Recreation in 76 Communities Across Michigan

May 6, 2021 | Lansing, MI | AMN — Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today signed HB 4469 which appropriates $37.8 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants that will support 76 recreation projects and land purchases throughout Michigan recommended by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board in December.

“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund supports quality outdoor recreation, giving Michiganders the ability to safely enjoy the outdoors and boosting local economies,” said Governor Whitmer. “This funding is crucial to helping communities utilize their natural resources and make Michigan’s public spaces more accessible and attractive to residents and visitors. I am proud to sign this piece of bipartisan legislation into law and support Michigan’s recreational resources and economy.” 

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 conservation 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. Over the past 45 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. 

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 includes continued support of: 

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

 This year, the Trust Fund board recommended nearly $27.3 million for acquisition grants and $10.5 million for development grants. In all: 

  • 26 acquisition grants were awarded to local units of government for a total of $20.8 million, while four acquisition grants went to the Department of Natural Resources for projects totaling nearly $6.5 million.  
  • The Trust Fund board also recommended $9.3 million in 42 development grants to local units of government, while four DNR projects garnered $1.2 million. 
  • The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board considered 136 applications seeking more than $60 million in funding. In a competitive process, all applications were carefully evaluated based on scoring criteria approved by the board.  

Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said Trust Fund support is especially meaningful right now.  

“Appreciation for Michigan’s outdoor spaces and recreation opportunities has always been strong, but this past year was an important reminder of how valuable these resources are to our residents,” said Eichinger, who also serves as a member of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board. “People increasingly used and relied on these spaces to hike, bike, camp, hunt, fish and explore, or to share the outdoors with their kids, and many of these opportunities were fully or partially funded by Trust Fund grants.” 

The governor signed the bill on Discovery Pier at Greilickville Harbor Park in Elmwood Charter Township. The township, one of more than 70 Trust Fund grantees this year, will receive $300,000 to further the recreation-based development of the pier area around the old coal dock. Planned amenities at Discovery Pier include the only universal access kayak launch and trailhead on the West Grand Traverse Bay Water Trail, paved parking, a rain garden with native Michigan plants for stormwater management, dark-sky-compliant LED lighting, shade pavilions, and an environment that welcomes deep-water fishing, picnicking and birdwatching. 

“I think this is a great example of how a local municipality, a nonprofit and the state can work together to create a special place,” said Jeffrey Shaw, Elmwood Township supervisor. “We’re happy to have the Discovery Pier here in Elmwood Township and we look forward to working together for years to come.” 

 The Trust Fund board’s recommendations go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. The Legislature then forwards a bill for the governor’s approval.  A list of the final recommendations made by the Trust Fund board is available at Michigan.gov/MNRTF

Watch this short video to learn more about the story of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.  

This bill was sponsored by Rep. Sue Allor, R – Wolverine.  

A copy of HB 4469 can be found here.