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Coalition of outdoor advocates urges Legislature to make once-in-a-lifetime investment in Michigan parks, outdoor spaces

Groups pen letter to Michigan House and Senate urging passage of Senate Bills 702-704 to invest nearly $1 billion in Michigan’s outdoors

A person walks through a forest of trees that are covered in brightly colored autumn leaves.
Upper Peninsula A person enjoys the beauty of Michigan's Wilderness Lakes Preserve. © Dietrich Ludwig

The leaders of Michigan’s leading conservation and outdoor recreation organizations today wrote a letter to lawmakers in the Michigan House and Senate urging action on legislation that would make a once-in-a-lifetime investment in Michigan’s parks and outdoor spaces.

The letter is signed by The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, Michigan Environmental Council, Heart of the Lakes, Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance, Michigan United Conservation Clubs and mParks.

The legislation, Senate Bills 702-704, will provide critical funding for state and local parks to help with trail and facility expansion, repairs and improvements. The bills would also infuse $30 million into sports and recreation in northern Michigan — which is a calling card of Michigan’s tourism industry — and trigger the allocation of revenues from the royalties on oil, gas, and mining operations on state-owned land to the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

  • Senate Bill 702, sponsored by Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Muskegon, would appropriate $508 million to the State Parks Endowment Fund.
  • Senate Bill 703, sponsored by Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, would appropriate $310 million to support Michigan recreation, sports and tourism.
  • Senate Bill 704, sponsored by Sen. Michael McDonald, R-Macomb Township, would appropriate $150 million to support local parks.

Combined, these bills would amount to a nearly $1 billion investment in outdoor recreation in Michigan.

“We know firsthand just how important our public outdoor spaces have been, particularly in the last several years. Our parks were safe, affordable places where we could go to get a break from the pressures of everyday life as well as the special circumstances created by the pandemic,” the letter states. “’Getting out of the house’ took on a whole new meaning for many of our state’s residents and the fact that we had the parks and open spaces to meet those needs is a testament to our predecessors’ foresight and underscores our responsibility to continue to care for them today. SB 702, 703, and 704 give our state and communities the resources they need to carry out this important work.”

The same groups led the successful passage of Proposal 1 in 2020, which was overwhelming approved by voters because they saw the benefit of supporting the places that make Michigan so special — from our Great Lakes beaches and public lands to our trails, paths, parks and playgrounds.

Proposal 1 removed the funding cap on the Natural Resources Trust Fund, ensuring existing royalties paid by oil and gas industries are reinvested back into our natural resources and outdoor spaces.

Senate Bills 702-704 will realize the goal of Proposal 1 sooner than many thought possible and ensure our parks and outdoor spaces can be enjoyed by generations of Michiganders.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.