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State trust fund pays it forward in effective, far-reaching effort

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund continues to serve Marquette County well.

Three area projects will receive development grants after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed a bill that appropriates $37.8 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants to support 76 recreation projects and land purchases throughout Michigan.

The city of Marquette was awarded $300,000 for an inclusive playground at Ellwood A. Matson Park. The project will replace the outdated Kids Cove Playground at the park with a new inclusive playground for children of all abilities.

Marquette County and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will receive $300,000 for Little Presque Isle Trail development and renovation of trailways at the Little Presque Isle recreation area, a popular hiking, swimming, picnicking, fishing, mountain biking, hunting and birdwatching area due to its proximity to the city of Marquette.

Jackson Mine Park in the city of Negaunee will receive $125,700 for a playground in the park, located within a 900-acre tract west of Negaunee that features attractions such as the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, single-track mountain bike trails, snowmobile and ORV trails as well as historic elements that help convey the region’s mining history.

These are three top recreational jewels in the area, and the more they can be enhanced, the better off the area will be.

We especially like the combination of play areas in scenic spots. Kids love to frolic on slides anyway, but at the new Kids Cove 2, they will be able to be active within view of Lake Superior, the same as the youngsters who visit the current playground there.

The MNRTF is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands for resource conservation and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals.

Creating something good from development of natural resources is a great way to pay it forward.

The trust fund has granted more than $1.2 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve recreation opportunities in Michigan over the last 45 years.

It’s likely that the municipalities and counties that benefited from the MNRTF would have had the funds to improve their local recreation spots, at least not the extent that was possible because of the grants.

So, the next time you walk on an improved trail near Little Presque Isle, think of the fund and be grateful people had the foresight to create it.

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