Natural Resources Trust Fund plan clears Senate

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved a Natural Resources Trust Fund spending bill that will provide funding for six projects in the 35th District, said Sen. Darwin Booher.

Under House Bill 5364, $3.66 million would be provided for projects in Leelanau, Kalkaska, Roscommon, Manistee and Lake counties.

“The trust fund provides funding for local development projects that will improve outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Booher, R-Evart. “While I am supportive of these local projects being funded, there are parts of the Natural Resources Trust Fund process that need more accountability and transparency to ensure that proper legislative oversight is happening.”

Booher said he supported the bill because of the local projects that will provide outdoor recreational opportunities for local communities, but he wants to reform the process used by the department, referred to as ecoregions, that creates an account for unidentified state land purchases.

“The department has been asking for funds for ecoregions without specifically identifying what land would be bought and for how much,” Booher said. “I oppose that process because I believe that giving the department a blank check to buy more land however it sees fit is a failure of our role as lawmakers to oversee state spending.

“I am working on legislation to provide much-needed changes to the trust fund system. This is especially important as I continue to hear from constituents that the state cannot afford to pay locals payments in lieu of taxes for the land it currently owns and residents continue to have access issues on public lands.”   

The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.