LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos applauded the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board of trustees for including four Berrien County development projects among its recommendations for 2017.
The trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.
“The purpose of Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund is to invest constitutionally restricted funds into vibrant parks and recreational resources that make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I am pleased that the 2017 recommendations include four Berrien County projects that would give area residents and out-of-state tourists increased access to outstanding outdoor opportunities.”
The NRTF board recommended using $27.7 million from the trust fund to support 27 acquisition projects and $19.9 million for 87 development projects.
The recommendations include $220,000 for the city of Niles to construct a trailhead for the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail downtown along the St. Joseph River and $300,000 for Niles Township to develop 1.2 miles of the 10-foot-wide paved non-motorized trail by connecting the township’s existing trail to the city of Niles’ trail.
“These developments would complete our portion of the 34-mile Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail that will connect people to four universities, four downtowns, 16 parks, five hospitals or major medical facilities, several historical and cultural attractions and numerous local businesses,” Proos said. “The other projects would connect neighborhood parks and enable people to access miles of river trails.”
Berrien County would see $296,000 go to developing roughly 20 acres in Watervliet with a mile of Paw Paw River frontage. The park would connect the city directly to the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan on the Paw Paw River Water Trail. The location would be a trailhead for the water trail with an ADA kayak launch, walkways, parking, security lighting and bench seating.
The board also recommended using $214,400 in Eau Claire to create a non-motorized pathway connecting Elizabeth Park, Veterans Park and Village Park West and two trailhead areas.
“These projects will allow the residents of Berrien County to better utilize our wonderful natural resources,” Proos said. “They will create new recreation opportunities and promote the health and wellness and overall livability of our communities.”
The NRTF recommendations for 2017 will go to the Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process next year.
Editor’s note: Audio comments from Proos will be available later on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/audio.