Trust Fund grants deserve to be celebrated | News, Sports, Jobs

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The holidays have arrived early this year for the good folks in Michigan, but boots and a coat will have to be put on as these gifts are waiting for you right outside.

At its December 1 meeting, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board of directors awarded more than $ 22 million in grants for 22 land acquisitions across the state. Among them was a proposal from Huron Pines to protect 145 acres of forest and 4,000 feet of Lake Huron shoreline in Alabaster Township, Iosco County. All of us at Huron Pines are grateful to everyone who supported this effort and we hope you take the opportunity to explore the Lake Huron Coastal Preserve in 2022.

Three more grants from the Trust Fund for Acquisitions in the North of the Lower Peninsula are also to be celebrated:

∫ Pigeon River Country State Forest gained 404 acres of Crown land and a mile of Pigeon River Corridor with the acquisition of the Camp Pishtoning property in Otsego County. The property provides extensive wetland and forest habitat for other game and non-game species and sits at the heart of the range of wild elk.

∫ Traverse City added 80 acres of forest land with the permanent protection of the Hickory Forest Natural Area. Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has worked with the city and township to ensure proper recreational access to this forest on the edge of northern Michigan’s largest city.

∫ Petoskey has added 55 acres to its Skyline Trail Recreation Area, overlooking the Bear River Valley and Lake Michigan.

Out of all 22 acquisitions, Michigan residents and visitors now have thousands of additional acres to explore, miles of waterways for fishing and trails to roam, not to mention habitat benefits. fish and wildlife. Happy Holidays to all.

The Natural Resources Trust Fund was established in 1976 against a backdrop of booming oil and gas exploration in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. The fund collects royalties from oil and gas leases on state-owned land, and its founders foresaw that swapping one non-renewable resource for another – finite fossil fuels for public land – would bring the more benefits to the people of Michigan.

The trust fund has evolved over the course of its existence, most recently in 2020 with a voter-approved measure to raise its cap of $ 500 million – a change that will prevent excess oil and gas revenues from pouring into the general fund. of the State – and mandates at least 25% to be devoted to leisure development projects.

In addition to this year’s acquisitions, the Trust Fund has allocated an additional $ 23 million for development projects in communities across the state. These 95 projects range from public access to Michigan’s tallest waterfall in Houghton County to the development of the Joe Louis Greenway, a recreational trail connecting parks and neighborhoods around Detroit. They all share a common goal: to give people more opportunities to go out.

The strong investment performance this year has enabled the Board of Trustees of the Trust Fund to disburse significantly more funds than in a typical round.

There was a sense of joy in the room on December 1 as the Board of Trustees of the Trust Fund significantly expanded the list of proposals it was prepared to fund. I watched the live broadcast at my desk. Although everyone was wearing masks, the sound of muffled laughter made it clear that there were a lot of smiling faces.

The next step will be for the legislature to consider the recommendations of the board of directors and the appropriate funds in the spring of 2022.

What a gift we have in the Natural Resources Trust Fund. Thanks to the people of Michigan and an ever-growing list of ambitious and exciting proposals, this is a gift that will continue to be given for generations to come.

Chris Engle is a communications partner for Huron Pines, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit based in Gaylord and Alpena to conserve and enhance northern Michigan’s natural resources to ensure safe water, safe places and vibrant communities. Huron Pines strives to improve economic, environmental, educational and recreational opportunities in northern Michigan. Learn more at huronpines.org.

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