Stamas supports two Otsego County projects in NRTF bill

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2018, including two Otsego County projects.

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.

“This bill would invest $300,000 from the trust fund to help develop a trailhead in downtown Gaylord along the Iron Belle Trail, which will eventually allow outdoor enthusiasts to travel on a safe and continuous path from Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The trailhead would provide families with better access to biking, hiking and even snowmobiling on the trail and offer greater opportunities to support local businesses.”

The trailhead would include parking, a restroom, a bike rack, picnic tables, lighting and landscaping. The Iron Belle Trail will connect to the Otsego County Trail and the North Central State Trail.

SB 883 also includes $912,500 for the Department of Natural Resources to acquire 2,100 acres that would provide a connection between the Pigeon River Country State Forest and extensive state forest land west of I-75.

“Getting together and enjoying time with family and friends in the outdoors is one of the things that makes Michigan such a great place to live,” Stamas said. “The Storey Lake property has excellent wildlife habitat, a cold-water trout stream and an entire lake — offering us a unique chance to preserve our natural resources and improve access to our great outdoors.”

The property contains habitat for elk, black bear and white-tailed deer and over one mile of the Stewart Creek corridor. It is also directly adjacent to the North Central State Trail. While mostly in Otsego County, about 160 acres of the property are in Cheboygan County.

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The trust fund is constitutionally restricted for natural resources improvements and land acquisitions across the state.

SB 883 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.