Legislative Update – Major investment to maintain, improve state parks

Jon Bumstead
Michigan State Senator
Director, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

Major investment to maintain, improve state parks

Nearly a billion dollars could be going toward making upgrades and improvements at our state and local parks under a three-bill legislative supplemental.

Senate Bills 702-704 would invest $968 million in one-time federal funding to clear a backlog of projects, create jobs and boost tourism. The bills would provide significant funding to operate, maintain and implement projects needed to address critical issues throughout our state and local parks.

More Michiganders and out-of-state guests seek a Pure Michigan experience at our state and local parks each year, yet many of these parks are in desperate need of repair and improvement. As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources, and vice chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, I recognize the primary problem with our current system is funding.

I introduced Senate Bill 702 to ensure the State Park Endowment Fund has a permanent source of funding to operate, maintain, and make capital improvements at Michigan’s state parks. Senate Bill 702 would dedicate $508 million for the State Park Endowment Fund, which would enable it to immediately reach its full funding cap and fund Michigan state parks in perpetuity.  Under the status quo, it is estimated the fund would not reach the funding cap for another 30 years.

Once the State Park Endowment Fund reaches its funding cap, then the overflow of revenue from state owned derived from oil, gas and mineral rights would be deposited into the Natural Resources Trust Fund. This additional revenue would allow the DNR to help further fund local recreation needs that have gone unsupported due to insufficient funding.

Senate Bills 703 and 704 would also:

  • Address an infrastructure backlog at state parks and recreation areas; and
  • Create a grant program supporting local park systems modeled after the successful Recreation Passport Grant Program.

On average for every $1 invested in land conservation, $4 is returned in economic benefit, yet over the past five years, nearly half of the DNR grant requests for local recreation needs have gone unsupported due to insufficient funding.

Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry contributes billions to the state’s economy and sustains 126,000 jobs with over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries. If these bills pass, then Michigan will no longer need to keep addressing funding issues related to our state and local parks.

This legislative package is a transformational improvement that will permanently fix the funding issues at our parks, and future generations of Michigan residents will reap the benefits.

These bills are currently pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee.