Emmons supports five area NRTF projects

Sen. Judy Emmons

Sen. Judy Emmons

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Judy Emmons on Thursday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2018, including five area projects.

“Making Michigan a better place to live, work and raise a family can also help us attract new talent and jobs to our region,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “These trail projects would be outstanding additions to the Natural Resources Trust Fund’s track record of helping improve recreational opportunities in our state.”

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.

The bill includes three projects in Montcalm County. One would use $290,000 in NRTF support to construct about 11 miles of nonmotorized Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trail from the Ionia-Kent county line to the completed sections north and south of Belding and to Greenville, where it will connect to the existing Fred Meijer Flat River Trail.

The second project would use $99,900 to build trailhead facilities for the Flat River Water Trail. The project includes parking and accessible canoe/kayak launches. One launch will be located in Jackson’s Landing Park in Greenville and the other will be about 10 miles downstream at Central Riverside Park in Belding.

A third project includes $300,000 to improve a 29-mile-long segment of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park through Montcalm County from Big Rapids in Mecosta County to Sand Lake from dirt surface to asphalt pavement. The 92-mile-long trail stretches from Comstock Park to Cadillac with over half of the trail improved with asphalt surfacing.

“From kayaking on a water trail to biking on a paved rail trail, these projects offer wonderful options for residents to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors,” Emmons said. “The scenic White Pine Trail offers residents and visitors a unique chance to have fun outdoors and see the small-town charm that makes our state such a great place to live. The project will create a safer, more accessible surface for everyone while also helping attract more tourists and economic development to the communities along the trail corridor.”

In Clare County, the city of Harrison would receive $300,000 to improve access to a trail network between Harrison City Park and the Harrison Community Schools complex. Trail amenities would include benches, a drinking fountain, picnic tables and a bike rack.

In Isabella County, Mt. Pleasant would receive $153,000 for an Island Park Fitness Trail and bridge project, which would include an eight-foot-wide accessible path, fitness stations and replacement of the 28-year-old pedestrian bridge between Island Park and Pickens Park. The trail improvements would complete the mile loop within Island Park.

“Both of these developments will enhance the ability of all area families to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities,” Emmons said. “The expansion and enhancement of nonmotorized trails in Harrison will provide residents with better access to outdoor family fun, and the Island Park project in Mt. Pleasant will enable more residents to stay fit and take advantage of a popular local park located next to the downtown area.”

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 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.