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Michigan’s Proposal 1 Ensures Long-Term Conservation
Michigan is full of amazing natural beauty and wildlife like the common loon, which is protected in MI as a threatened species. The shores of the Great Lakes and the rustic, northern woods attract tourists for the outdoor recreation opportunities. For decades, the State has used royalties from oil & gas to reinvest back into protecting natural areas, but the current guidelines for the state’s Natural Resource Trust Fund hinder its long-term conservation potential.
This fall Michiganders will have the opportunity to update the Fund through Proposal 1 to protect conservation and improve outdoor recreation for years to come.
Flexibility for More Conservation Projects
During this challenging year, visiting parks and other public lands have become an important source for exercise and stress relief. But keeping trails open, making restrooms available, and enhancing accessibility costs money. In addition to preserving thousands of acres for wildlife, Michigan’s Natural Resource Trust Fund also invests in park improvements. However, the existing guidelines restrict this type of spending to 25% or less of its budget—leaving many worthwhile park projects without necessary funding.
One of the most important features to this year’s Proposal 1 is that it provides more flexibility in funding limits, allowing investments in improvements to exceed 25% of the budget (but no more than 75% of the budget). This could help ensure better access to nature areas throughout the state!
Removing the Lifetime Cap
Through the Natural Resources Trust Fund, the State of Michigan has purchased more than 216,790 acres of natural habitat across the state to preserve environmentally-sensitive areas for wildlife like the threatened common loon and moose. But the fund is currently limited to receiving a lifetime amount of $500,000,000. It hit this ceiling faster than expected, reaching the maximum back in 2011. Fortunately, there is still money left over to continue land acquisitions and improve public access for now, but the fund will need fresh revenue at some point to continue to build on its conservation success.
State lawmakers did think ahead to have any additional oil & gas royalties support another outdoor-based fund, the State Park Endowment Fund, once the Natural Resource Trust Fund hit its limit. But this other fund has a lifetime cap as well. Once both of these funds have received their limit, all royalties will be absorbed into the general state coffers. The only true fix to save the Natural Resource Trust Fund is through an amendment to fix the law. Proposal 1 addresses this issue by removing the previous lifetime limit, allowing the state to continue to acquire and preserve natural areas so long as the royalties continue to flow in.
Vote YES for Long-term Success
This November, Michigan voters will be given a historic opportunity to expand the work of the Natural Resource Trust Fund (MNRTF) and help protect drinking water sources, wildlife habitats, and parks for future generations by voting yes on Proposal 1. It will help ensure a funding stream dedicated to improving the cherished outdoor places Michiganders use to support our mental and physical health—especially during these challenging times. The amendment will also safeguard a constitutionally protected revenue source for conservation and recreation for future generations, keeping it insulated from partisan gridlock.
Our state affiliate, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and more than 30 partners are asking for your support this election to improve parks and protect conservation funding by voting “YES!” on Proposal 1.