LANSING — State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) announced that the House of Representatives has approved House Bill 5377, which funds Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund projects across the state, including three in Dianda’s district: enhancements to Donald McKenzie Memorial Park in Marenisco Township, the Whitefish Trail restoration project in Watersmeet Township, and the Douglass Houghton Waterfall acquisition in Houghton County.
“The Upper Peninsula is known for its trails and waterfalls, and these three projects will help us improve a park and trail, start construction of a planned 40-mile Wilderness Lakes Trail system, and make the U.P.’s tallest waterfall safely accessible to tourists and residents.”
The Donald McKenzie Memorial Park enhancements project will receive $295,000 to recreate the community park and regional trailhead with a new lighted pavilion, parking, walkways, picnic area and landscaping.
The Whitefish Trail restoration project will receive $108,000 to construct part of a planned 40-mile Wilderness Lakes Trail system that will follow the route of the historic Whitefish Lake Road, originally constructed for Lady Bird Johnson’s motorcade when she dedicated the adjacent Sylvania Wilderness in 1967.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division received $600,000 to acquire about 80 acres to preserve and provide public access to the U.P’s Hammell Creek Gorge and Houghton-Douglass Falls. The property that the DNR will acquire will also serve as a trailhead for the Hancock to Laurium Rail Trail. The DNR plans to partner with the Houghton Keweenaw County Recreation Authority and Calumet Township to develop and maintain the property as a scenic site.
“All of these projects are a step closer to completion, and that’s good for the stores and businesses in these communities that rely on outdoor activities and tourism to help them have a good year,” said Dianda.
The MNRTF is a restricted fund established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals. Over the past 39 years, the trust fund has granted more than $1 billion to state and local units of government to develop and improve recreation opportunities in Michigan.