Senate OKs Natural Resources Trust Fund plan

LANSING?The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that will provide funding for 76 recommended Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects throughout Michigan, said Sen. Darwin Booher, sponsor of the measure.

Senate Bill 780 authorizes the trust fund to spend $27.6 million to support 32 acquisition projects and 44 development projects. Matching funds of $18.9 million bring the total investment to more than $46.5 million.

“The trust fund is about helping to make Michigan a better place to live and raise a family,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This plan invests more than $27 million in constitutionally restricted funds for state and local projects that will improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Michigan families and tourists.”

Booher said the bill will provide more than $1.1 million in funding for four NRTF projects in the 35th Senate District.

“This plan will support four projects in Northern Michigan, representing a total investment of more than $4.4 million,” Booher said. “Families and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the result of the largest project in the area: an extensive improvement to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. This project will give residents a better and safer experience on the trail, which connects nearly three dozen communities from Cadillac to Grand Rapids.”

SB 780 specifically provides $300,000 toward nearly $3.3 million in improvements to 40.8 miles of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park from LeRoy in Osceola County to Sand Lake in Kent County, including trail surface and bridge enhancements along the route.

Booher said the plan would also allocate $30,900 toward a $51,500 development to Sands Park in Kalkaska County. The project includes adding two accessible playgrounds to the six-acre park, which is the only public access site to Manistee Lake.

The bill also invests $800,000 for the acquisition of 240 acres along Dair Creek in Benzie County and 15 acres of Little Manistee River property in Lake County.

The trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.

Applications for next year’s trust fund projects are being accepted until April 1.