Huizenga supports funding for outdoor recreation projects

Huizenga supports funding for outdoor recreation projects

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Mark Huizenga on Thursday supported a Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) bill to invest over $27 million in park and trail developments and acquisitions across Michigan, including five projects in Kent and Ottawa counties.

“For over 40 years, resources from our state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund have been used to enhance access to public recreation and improve the quality of life for all Michigan families,” said Huizenga, R-Walker. “Many West Michigan families enjoy spending time outside in nature fishing, hiking, boating, biking, and more. This constitutionally restricted funding will support tremendous projects in West Michigan and throughout our state to help increase outdoor recreational opportunities and make our state an even better place.

“From preserving Lake Michigan dunes to improving hiking and biking trails, the five exciting projects in Kent and Ottawa counties illustrate the reason the people of Michigan created the Natural Resources Trust Fund to support vibrant parks and greater access to our outdoors.”

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. Since its inception in 1976, the NRTF has been used to fund 2,760 projects totaling $1.3 billion.

Senate Bill 817 would authorize the NRTF to release $27.3 million in restricted funds to support 35 development projects and 18 land acquisitions across the state. Local matching funds of $34.2 million would bring the total investment to $61.5 million.

Under the bill, Ottawa County would receive $1,642,000 toward a $2,346,000 purchase of a 127-acre dune site to the northeast of the existing 164-acre Rosy Mound Natural Area to create a 291-acre park on Lake Michigan. With 116 acres of state-designated critical dunes, this park is known for its stunning lake and dune views, forested trails, and 3,460 feet of natural beach.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division would receive $1.2 million to acquire 144 acres for inclusion in the Rogue River State Game Area. The property has diverse habitat types, including aspen and oak stands, grass fields, and an old apple orchard. Management of the site would further enhance the existing wildlife habitat for species such as wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbits, and pileated woodpeckers. The property is adjacent to public land on two sides and would provide additional opportunities for wildlife-related recreation, such as hunting, trapping and birdwatching.

Communities in Kent and Ottawa counties would also receive grants for three development projects, including:

  • $300,000 to the city of Kentwood toward $1 million in improvements to 15,000 linear feet of the Paul Henry Trail, including repaving the trail and installing waste and recycling containers and composite benches.
  • $300,000 to the city of Cedar Springs for a $600,100 project at Heart of Cedar Springs Park featuring universally accessible pathways, a natural playground area, a pavilion, parking, and universally accessible restroom facilities, as well as native plantings along Cedar Creek.
  • $300,000 to Holland Charter Township toward a $1.3 million development of the Middle Macatawa Greenway, including a new trailhead at the roundabout near Hawthorn Pond Park and a 1.8-mile hiking and mountain biking trail creating a 15.69-mile trail to the Upper Macatawa Natural Area. Trailhead improvements would include an accessible restroom, parking lot, bike repair station, and rest area. The partnership between the township, Ottawa County, and the Outdoor Discovery Center will facilitate the new trail corridor along and over the Macatawa River via natural surfaced trails and boardwalks.

SB 817 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.


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