Column: U.P. State Fair slated to receive DNR Trust Fund Grant

ESCANABA — In mid-December, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommended $25 million in grant awards for outdoor recreation development and land acquisition projects to the state Legislature.

The U.P. State Fair Campground Improvement grant request for $300,000 is one of 10 development projects recommended for funding in the Upper Peninsula. The funds will be used to construct two new bathroom facilities with showers. One will be located within the new Ninth Avenue North campground and the other in the campground near the DNR Pocket Park.

As reported in a press release issued by the DNR, the grant funding will support a diverse range of projects, some of which include land acquisition for wildlife and fishery habitat conservation and access, community pathway connections, development of urban parks and playscapes, sports field enhancements and river access.

“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is critical in providing people of all ages and abilities with more and better opportunities to experience our state’s woods, water and outdoor heritage,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Every year, millions of residents and visitors swim our lakes, hike our forests, bike our trails and connect with the outdoors in dozens of other ways. Trust Fund support, this year and every year, ensures that those experiences are here for current and future generations.”

The board this year recommended $25.6 million in grant funding, including $11.5 million for 60 recreation development projects and $14.1 million for 18 land acquisition projects.

Grant recipients have committed to providing matching funds of $17 million, bringing the total investment in outdoor recreation and conservation to nearly $43 million for this funding cycle.

Of the $14.1 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $10.3 million would be awarded to local units of government and $3.8 million would support five DNR projects. Of the $11.5 million recommended to fund development grants, $9.6 million would support 51 local government projects and $1.9 million would support nine DNR projects.

The board considered a total of 160 applications seeking nearly $54 million in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated on scoring criteria developed by the board.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund – a restricted fund established in 1976 to support land conservation and outdoor recreation – is financed through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals such as oil and natural gas. Throughout its history, the Trust Fund has granted more than $1.1 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve public outdoor recreation opportunities in all 83 counties.

“Over the past 40-plus years, the Trust Fund has improved the quality of life for people in every county of Michigan,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Trust Fund grants have leveraged additional dollars from local government partners to expand outdoor recreation opportunities, ensure the conservation and protection of our natural resources and fuel Michigan’s economic growth.”

The board’s recommendations will go to the state Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. Upon approval, the Legislature will forward a bill for the governor’s signature.

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Vickie Micheau is executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce


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