LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Thursday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2018, including six projects in Southwest Michigan.
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. “I was proud to support funding these tremendous area projects that will give Michigan residents and out-of-state tourists more and better access to our great outdoors.”
As approved by the Senate, Senate Bill 883 would authorize the trust fund to use $49.9 million in restricted funds to support 34 acquisition projects and 97 development projects. Matching funds of $45 million would bring the total investment to more than $94.9 million.
In Berrien County, the bill would use $56,000 from the trust fund to acquire 12 acres contiguous to Love Creek County Park and $278,100 for a development in Oronoko Township featuring 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 bill also includes $300,000 for the development of the Riverside Kayak Park in Hagar Township. The project at the 112-acre trailhead recreation area features 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 Berrien County families and the entire region,” Proos said. “As a result, the funding can help encourage active lifestyles, good health and appreciation of our natural resources.”
St. Joseph County would receive funding for 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.”
Cass County also has two projects funded in the bill. The NRTF would use $40,000 to help 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.
“Both these Cass County projects will improve recreational options for residents of all ages and enhance their quality of life, which is an important part of attracting new talent and growing families to our state,” Proos said.
SB 883 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.