Editorial: Continuing natural resources investment imperative | News
Michigan’s governor signed House Bill 4469 Thursday, approving the Natural Resources Trust Fund’s spending for an additional year.
While a man was arrested after molesting Governor Gretchen Whitmer and addressing and spat at a local television reporter, the bill itself was undisputed. It is an annual, usually non-partisan, ritual to pay the interest on a Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund that collects bonuses, rents, late rents, and royalties on non-renewable resources such as oil and gas that are mined on state properties.
We’re not surprised that Whitmer chose Traverse City to sign it. Our region is a prime example of both functions of the law: buying land for parks and investing in existing parks and facilities. She signed it at Discovery Pier in Greilickville, where $ 300,000 was available to convert an old coal dock into a recreational destination with a universally accessible kayak launch, restrooms, parking lots, and gardens.
The $ 39 million bill also shows $ 569,200 for the purchase of 515 acres on Bass and Saunders Lakes. $ 718,900 for the expansion of the Railroad Point Natural Area in Benzie County by 9 acres plus $ 300,000 for an accessibility project to Elberta Pier, refurbishment of the boat launch at Torch Lake, and improvements to Arbutus Lake No. 5 park. (The bill also includes $ 300,000 for Fishpass, currently the focus of a lawsuit the project may be putting before voters).
However, the funds by no means cover the high prices of the projects. Corresponding contributions from local governments and nonprofits – nearly $ 85 million this year – have more than doubled their impact.
Traverse City knows exactly how important it is to invest in preserving our wild spaces for public use. Taxpayers in Traverse City and Garfield Township voted twice (2004 and 2020) for Millages to buy Historic Barns Park, Hickory Meadows, part of the open space on West Grand Traverse Bay and Hickory Forest. Our Rotary Charities organization has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations like TART Trails and Area Preservation. Almost every year-round resident benefits from our abundant natural resources, from the solitary splendor of skiing on the VASA in winter or from a tourist dollar for recreational travel in summer.
“Up North” means natural beauty. But we’re not naive to believe that just because it is now will always be.
Traverse City is also an example of an area struggling with growth – and the associated pressures on housing, land, childcare, employment and services. Things change quickly.
The protection and accessibility of our natural resources for all requires us all as taxpayers – and as valuers.