Senate approves Natural Resources Trust Fund projects

LANSING―The state Senate approved legislation Wednesday allocating more than $100 million from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to natural resources improvement projects across the state, said Sen. John Proos.

“These projects will create jobs and make their communities a better place to live, work and raise a family.  Ensuring we have vibrant, inviting park and recreational resources helps us compete for business investment,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This measure dedicates more than $1.3 million to help fund five projects in southwest Michigan, including improvements to Galien River County Park in Berrien County and South Beach in South Haven.”

Senate Bill 140 authorizes the trust fund to spend $102 million to support 46 acquisition projects and 71 development projects. These funds are constitutionally restricted for natural resource improvements across the state.

The bill provides $250,000 toward $500,000 in various improvements to South Beach in South Haven and $500,000 toward $925,000 in Galien River County Park developments in Berrien County, including hiking trails, boardwalks and a fishing pier.

Proos said other projects in the 21st Senate District funded by the measure include:

  • $29,600 for a $43,600 expansion of an existing pavilion and sidewalk  installation at Ely Park in the city of Hartford;
  • $306,800 for a $409,000 expansion and improvement of the Shamrock Park Campground in the village of Berrien Springs; and
  • $256,000 for a $346,000 Hess Lake Park development in Baroda Township, including a new pavilion, fishing pier, playground equipment and bike path.

The trust fund provides financial assistance to local governments and the Department of Natural Resources to purchase land or rights in land for public recreation or protection of land because of its environmental importance or its scenic beauty. It also assists in the appropriate development of land for public outdoor recreation.

The fund is supported by annual revenues from the development of state-owned mineral resources, largely oil and gas and administered by the trust fund’s board of trustees and the Grants Management office of the DNR.

Senate Bill 140 has been sent to the state House of Representatives for consideration.