Supporting four area Natural Resources Trust Fund projects

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. I recently supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2018, including projects in Alcona, Montmorency and Otsego counties.

Senate Bill 883 would authorize the NRTF 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.

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

In Otsego County, SB 883 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.

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. Improvements would include parking, a restroom, a bike rack, picnic tables, lighting and landscaping.

The bill 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.

The Storey Lake property has excellent habitat for elk, black bear and white-tailed deer; a cold-water trout stream; over one mile of the Stewart Creek corridor; and an entire lake — offering us a unique chance to preserve our natural resources and improve access to our great outdoors.

In Alcona County, a project would give new and exciting kayaking and fishing options to children and adults of all ages and of all abilities — helping get people active in the outdoors and enhancing the entire community.

The project would receive $108,700 from the NRTF for development of a canoe/kayak launch, fishing platform, paved handicap-accessible parking, and signs to Alcona Township Park located at the mouth of the Black River.

In Montmorency County, $203,700 would be used for the acquisition of 80 acres in Rust Township for a public access site and boat launch on the west side of Fletcher’s Flood Water. This purchase will help improve our state and enhance the enjoyment of Michigan’s great outdoors by area families and boating enthusiasts. The property, known as Lyon’s Landing, contains 43 acres of upland, 37 acres of submerged bottom land and an existing boat launch.

These four projects are excellent examples of the positive impact the Natural Resources Trust Fund was designed to make when it was created four decades ago.

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