Sen. Emmons: Mid-Michigan projects included in Natural Resources Trust Fund bill signed by governor

LANSING? Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation to provide funding for 76 recommended Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects throughout Michigan, including two in mid-Michigan, said Sen. Judy Emmons.

“Making mid-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. “The Natural Resources Trust Fund helps us achieve these goals by improving our outstanding parks and outdoor recreational opportunities. A key part of this year’s trust fund plan is an extensive enhancement to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park that connects nearly three dozen communities from Cadillac to Grand Rapids, including Howard City, Maple Hill and Pierson.”

Public Act 114 of 2014 authorizes the trust fund to spend $27.6 million to support 32 acquisition projects and 44 development projects. Matching funds of $18.9 million bring the total investment to more than $46.5 million.

PA 114 specifically provides $300,000 toward nearly $3.3 million in improvements to 40.8 miles of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park from LeRoy in Osceola County to Sand Lake in Kent County, including trail surface and bridge enhancements along the route.

Emmons said the plan also allocates $200,000 toward a $626,600 development along the Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail. The Ionia County project would convert an existing vehicular bridge into a pedestrian bridge and pave a 10-foot-wide spur from the trail to Lyons.

“Both of these projects will enhance people’s enjoyment of these wonderful trails,” said Emmons. “Once completed, the easier connections and improved quality of the trails will give residents better opportunities to spend time biking or walking with their families in Michigan’s great outdoors.”

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The fund’s dollars are constitutionally restricted for natural resource improvements across the state.

Since its creation in 1976, the fund has awarded more than $1 billion for land acquisition and public outdoor recreation development projects for communities in every county.