LaSata: Berrien, Cass county projects to benefit from trust fund bill

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Kim LaSata on Thursday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2020, including three development projects and two acquisition projects in Berrien and Cass counties.

“The development and expansion projects in Berrien and Cass counties included in this year’s Natural Resources Trust Fund bill will create or enhance wonderful outdoor opportunities for Southwest Michigan families,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “These projects are excellent examples of what the fund was created to achieve, and they will ensure everyone will be able to enjoy some of Michigan’s most celebrated natural resources for generations to come.”

As finalized by the Senate, Senate Bill 145 would authorize the trust fund to use $28.7 million to support 18 acquisition projects and 60 recreational development projects throughout the state.

The bill provides over $2.4 million for Chikaming Township for its Cherry Beach Project to acquire forest and beach land adjacent to the beach to expand access at Lake Michigan. With the acquisition, the township beach will grow from 253 feet to 657 feet, making it a prime destination for residents and tourists alike.

The bill also includes:

  • $300,000 for the Range Line Trailhead Development project in Berrien Township;
  • $300,000 for the village of Cassopolis’ Connector Development Project;
  • $80,000 to expand the Paw Paw River County Park in Berrien County; and
  • $36,900 to support improvements at Milo Park in the village of Vandalia.

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The fund’s dollars are constitutionally restricted to recreation improvements and land acquisitions. It has provided over 40 years of funding for high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities across Michigan. The process is competitive, and applications are scored on criteria developed by the fund’s board.

The fund was established in 1976 under the Kammer Recreational Trust Fund Act and was later added to the Michigan Constitution under Article 9, Section 35.

SB 145 now goes to the governor for her signature.