Proos supports four Berrien County projects in NRTF bill

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LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos supported four Berrien County projects in the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) bill signed by the governor on Thursday.

The trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.

“Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund invests constitutionally restricted funds into creating vibrant parks and recreational opportunities that make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Berrien County has four projects for this year that will give area residents and out-of-state tourists increased access to outstanding outdoor resources.”

Senate Bill 76 authorizes the trust fund to support 27 acquisition projects and 87 development projects. Matching funds of $40.1 million bring the total investment to more than $87.7 million.

The bill includes $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.

“Once completed, these developments will finalize our portion of the 34-mile Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail,” Proos said. “This trail will eventually connect four universities, four downtowns, 16 parks, five hospitals or major medical facilities, several historical and cultural attractions, and numerous local businesses.”

SB 76 provides Berrien County with $296,000 for 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, lighting and seating.

The bill also uses $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 families to better utilize our wonderful natural resources,” Proos said. “They will also improve our communities by creating new recreation opportunities and promoting enhanced health and wellness.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments from Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/audio.