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State board requests $23.3 million from legislature for recreation funding in 2023

Picnic pavilions are just one example of projects funded by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Village of Mount Pleasant
Picnic pavilions are just one example of projects funded by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board is asking for $23.3 million from the state legislature to fund recreation projects this year.

The trust fund board reviewed 124 applications seeking funding for picnic pavilions, playgrounds, trails, and boat launches in public parks.

Jon Mayes is the recreation grants manager with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He said the funding request is less than in previous years because of low market returns. If granted, the $23.3 million in funding would cover 45 projects.

“A lot of times people don't even realize the trust fund has been involved in either acquiring or improving those properties," Mayes said. "But it really does make a difference for quality of life, especially in a post-COVID time when people really value the ability to get outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer.”

Mayes said the funding appropriation is nonpartisan, so the new makeup of the state legislature will not likely affect decision-making.

"Historically, both sides of the aisle have been favorable towards funding public outdoor recreation in Michigan because they know how important it is to people's quality of life and because hunting, fishing, and people just hiking and biking, is good for the economy,” Mayes said.

The fund has awarded $1.3 billion dollars in grants for projects since the program started nearly 50 years ago.

To learn more about the Trust Fund, visit the DNR website here.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.