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Michigan Senate approves $28.7 million to develop and acquire public land

A sunset over the Lake Michigan Horizon at Ludington State Park. 

(The Center Square) – The Michigan Senate Thursday approved spending $28.7 million from a restricted state revenue fund to purchase land and improve public projects.

SB 145, if signed into law, would unleash money across the state.

The money would come from the Michigan National Resource Trust Fund (MNRTF), created in 1984 to develop and purchase public land using funds generated from interest and earnings on state-owned mineral rights programs.

Of the $28 million, $17.2 million would cover 18 land acquisition projects, and 60 land development projects cost $11.5 million.

The MNRTF amount spent would total $28.7 million, but counting matches from local government entities and private donations may reach $49.4 million that could flow into projects ranging from Wayne County to Presque Isle in Northern Michigan.

A $5.3 million chunk would fund buying up to 272 acres from the Sargent Minerals Company, including coastal habitat, wetlands, and sand dunes for the Ludington State Park in Mason County.

Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, welcomed the bill, which seeks to spend $180,100 for a 42-mile foot and bicycle trail called “The Dragon,” which will feature 13 designated overlooks near Hardy Dam.

“This legislation will improve recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts across the state,” Bumstead said in a statement. “As an avid outdoorsman myself, I’m grateful the projects are moving forward and I am eager to see the final products.”

In Lansing, more than $200,000 would be used to acquire and improve land around the Riverfront Park near the River Trail.

Almost $237,000 would connect Bluebell Beach in Genesee Township with the Iron Belle Trail in Flint, which Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Flint Democrat, applauded.

“Bluebell Beach is a longtime favorite spot for families in our community, and by connecting it to Michigan’s famous Iron Belle Trail, many more will be able to walk, run, bike and kayak in this beautiful area,” Ananich said in a statement.

“During this difficult time when most of our usual summer activities have been put on pause, folks are finding fun in the great outdoors, reminding us all that our parks and trails are a valuable resource to be maintained, improved and – most importantly – enjoyed.”

Jon Mayes, recreation grants manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, told The Center Square that many projects improve existing parks, like buying riverfront land so residents can launch canoes.

“Every year, it’s so exciting to see these projects get rolled out because they’re both improving existing parks through development of amenities like bathrooms and boat launches and picnic pavilions and ball fields, but it’s also acquiring land that’s really going to enhance an existing park,” Mayes said.

The bill heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

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