Proos applauds six area projects in NRTF’s recommendations

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos applauded the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board of trustees for including six area projects among its recommendations for 2018.

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

“Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund was created to invest constitutionally restricted funds into vibrant parks and recreational resources that make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The recommendations for 2018 include six Southwest Michigan projects that would give area residents and out-of-state tourists increased access to amazing experiences in Michigan’s outdoors.”

The NRTF board recommended using $56,000 from the trust fund to acquire 12 acres contiguous to Berrien County’s Love Creek County Park and $278,100 for a development in Oronoko Township that would include the addition of two football/soccer fields, a concession and restroom building, a parking lot, a trailhead, accessible pathways and a section of regional trail.

The recommendations also include $300,000 for the development of the Riverside Kayak Park in Hagar Township. The project at the 112-acre trailhead recreation area would include paved parking, restrooms, a pavilion, accessible picnic tables and grills, and accessible road, boardwalk and kayak launch to connect users to the Paw Paw River and its water trail network.

“These exciting projects would create new outdoor recreation opportunities for area families and help encourage active lifestyles, good health and appreciation of our natural resources,” Proos said. “That is good for Berrien County and the entire region.”

Cass County would see two projects. The NRTF board recommended using $40,000 to develop a 10-foot-wide pathway along the north side of US-12 to allow safe, non-motorized travel from Edwardsburg schools and the village’s existing network of walkways to the trails, playgrounds and athletic fields at the Edwardsburg Sports Complex.

Dowagiac would receive $175,300 to help develop a trailhead park along Cass Avenue. The project includes paved parking and pathways, playground equipment, landscaping and an accessible fishing platform. Future phases will include pavilions, restrooms and a trail along the creek linking the park to more than eight miles of trails.

“An important part of attracting new talent to our communities is the quality of life, especially for young professionals and growing families,” Proos said. “Both these Cass County projects will improve recreational options for residents of all ages and enhance their quality of life.”

St. Joseph County would also see two projects. The county would get $166,500 to acquire a 54-acre parcel along the St. Joseph River known as the Kettles Preserve. In the future the land could be developed with trails and canoe and kayak access to the river.

Three Rivers would receive $293,700 from the trust fund for the renovation of a pedestrian bridge in Memory Isle Park, the development of a canoe/kayak launch and an ADA-accessible picnic area, and the conversion of the existing park lights on the island to LED.

“These projects illustrate the reason for the trust fund,” Proos said. “They would preserve wilderness land for possible future public use and make important improvements to a current park to better ensure safe access to outdoor recreation.”

The NRTF recommendations for 2018 will go to the Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process next year.