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Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF)

Grants to Michigan Agencies, School Districts, and Recreation Authorities
to Protect Natural Resources and Increase Access to Outdoor Recreation

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Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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Grants to Michigan government agencies, eligible recreation authorities, and eligible school districts for land acquisition and recreational development benefiting local communities. A five-year recreation plan must be submitted and approved prior to the full proposal. Funding is intended to support the acquisition of wildlife habitats, hunting access areas, and public waterway access areas, as well as the development of water trails and urban recreation opportunities.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) projects provide for natural resource protection and outdoor recreation. Each year, the MNRTF Board invites state and local units of government in Michigan to submit proposals for the acquisition or development of land for natural resource-based public outdoor recreation.

The overall goals of the MNRTF direct the Board to financially assist both the purchase of land or specific rights in land for recreation or protection of land because of its environmental importance or scenic beauty, and the appropriate development of land for public outdoor recreation use. The five goals, as prioritized by the Board, are:

1. Resource Protection: To protect Michigan’s natural resources, and provide for their access, public use, and enjoyment.
2. Water Access: To provide public access to Michigan’s water bodies, particularly the Great Lakes, and to facilitate their recreation use.
3. Community Recreation: To meet regional, county, and community needs for outdoor recreation opportunities.
4. Urban Recreation: To improve the opportunity for outdoor recreation in Michigan’s urban areas.
5. Economic Development: To stimulate Michigan’s economy through recreation-related tourism and community revitalization.

(For further details about these priority goals, see pages 46-47 of the Application Guide listed in Supporting Documents below.)

The MNRTF Board strongly believes that the natural resources of the State should be accessible to the public for the outdoor recreation opportunities they provide and protected for their scenic values and environmental importance. Projects that provide access to and protection of significant natural resources, inland water bodies and hunting/fishing/wildlife viewing opportunities are highly valued by the Board. The MNRTF Board will emphasize the following four areas for funding in 2019:

1. Trails (including water trails)
2. Wildlife Habitat, and Hunting Access (acquisition only)
3. Projects Within an Urban Area
4. Public Access to the Great Lakes (acquisition only)

Eligible Projects:

There are two categories for eligible projects - land acquisition and recreation facility development.

- Land Acquisition:

Eligible projects include acquisition of land or specific rights in land (for example, development rights or easements) for public outdoor recreation uses or protection of the land for its environmental importance or scenic beauty.

Each application submitted must be for a single acquisition project. A project is defined as the acquisition of a property in a single location, with the exceptions duly noted herein. Acquisition applications for the purchase of separate parcels are eligible if they are adjacent to property already owned by the applicant, such as additions of parcels east and west of an existing park or acquisition of separate segments of a trail that connect to properties already controlled by the applicant. In addition, applications that propose the acquisition of one or more disjunct parcels will be considered for funding if the parcels are all within a dedicated boundary. Factors such as access and the recreation and ecological value of the individual parcels will be considered in determining the score for the application.

- Recreation Facility Development:

Eligible public outdoor recreation projects include fishing and hunting facilities, beaches, boating access, picnic areas, campgrounds, winter sports areas, playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts, and trails. Also included are facilities needed to support outdoor recreation, such as nature interpretive buildings, park visitor centers, restrooms, and storage buildings for park equipment. Renovation of existing facilities is eligible and encouraged, but not if poor maintenance, design, or construction was the cause of the facilities’ poor or unsafe condition. All construction and renovation must comply with all federal and state requirements regarding accessibility for people with disabilities. (For more information on the grant development process review the Development Project Procedures booklet available on the DNR grants website.) Development projects providing universal accessibility to recreation opportunities are especially encouraged.

Each application submitted must be for a single development project. A project is defined as the development of a property in a single location. Development applications should be for a single park site or contiguous trail.

Eligible Costs for development projects: Only those costs directly associated with the construction of the project will be reimbursed, including engineering costs and the costs associated with obtaining permits. Engineering costs are only eligible for reimbursement once the project is under construction.

All Development project facilities must, at a minimum, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Applicants must be sure to incorporate state and federal accessibility requirements into their facility planning and cost estimates. Access routes must be provided to the proposed scope items, accessible parking and/or park access points and relevant support facilities, such as a restroom building. Facilities that directly support the scope items should be accessible.

Applications are evaluated on established criteria such as resource protection, access to recreation opportunities, and project need.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184856

Estimated Size of Grant:

Based on current projections, approximately $15-20 million will be available for grants each year.

Development Project Grants:

- Minimum Grant Request: $15,000 ($20,000 minimum total project cost)
- Maximum Grant Request: $300,000

Within a grant cycle, the MNRTF Board may choose to set aside a portion of the available funds for small development projects requesting $50,000 or less that fulfill Board priorities.

Land Acquisition Grants:

There are no minimum or maximum acquisition grant request amounts. Within a grant cycle, the MNRTF Board may choose to set aside a portion of the available funds for small acquisition projects requesting $100,000 or less that fulfill Board priorities.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility: State/local units of government, a limited number of school districts or recreation authorities which are legally constituted to provide recreation.

Local units of government are eligible to submit an MNRTF grant application. A local unit of government is defined as a city, village, township, county, or any combination of these entities in which authority is legally constituted to provide public recreation, such as:

- Regional recreation authorities are eligible to apply if they meet the requirements given in the Guidelines for the Development of Community Park, Recreation, Open Space and Greenway Plans (IC1924)
- Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority.
- School districts that meet the requirements given in Guidelines for the Development of Community Park, Recreation, Open Space, and Greenway Plan (IC 1924).

Federally recognized Native American tribes, colleges, universities, and conservation districts are not eligible for MNRTF assistance.

In most cases, acquisition of property already in public ownership, including property owned by public school districts, is not eligible for MNRTF assistance. MNRTF Board Policy 90.1 addresses the conditions under which the acquisition of land already in public ownership is eligible for assistance.

Acquisitions by land contract (prior to applying or after receiving grant funding) are not eligible for MNRTF assistance. For more information on the grant acquisition process, review the Acquisition Project Procedures booklet available on the DNR grants website.

Development projects that are not eligible include:

- Indoor recreation facilities, other than facilities that support outdoor recreation.
- Stadiums and other facilities designed expressly for viewing of professional or semi-professional arts or athletics, or intercollegiate or interscholastic sports.
- Amphitheaters, band shells, and permanent seating associated with them.
- Art displays, decorative fountains, and facilities for historical interpretation.
- Projects that would create an unfair competitive situation with private enterprises. In situations where privately-managed facilities are providing identical or similar recreation opportunities the local government must provide additional written justification of the need for the proposed facility in light of the private sector's presence.
- Projects which are primarily sidewalk in a road or street right-of-way and located within a municipality. In general, traffic control devices in the road right-of-way, such as guardrails, flashing or non-flashing signs or barricades, and electronic crossing signals, are not eligible scope items for MNRTF projects.
- Most improvements to public roadways.
- Invasive species removal, shoreline stabilization, or erosion control which are not directly associated with development of recreation facilities at the site.

The following costs are not eligible for reimbursement in a development project:

- Studies
- Land acquisition costs
- Costs associated with the estimation of construction costs, such as consultant fees
- Costs incurred prior to execution of a project agreement provided by the DNR.

Overhead, maintenance, administration, attorney, and contingency costs are not eligible for assistance for either acquisition or development projects.

Pre-Application Information:

Local community recreation plans must be uploaded to the DNR's MiRecGrants website by February 1st of the year of application. Applications must be uploaded no later than April 1, of the year of application.

All applicants must complete their application on DNR Grants Management’s online application system. Paper applications will not be accepted and will be considered ineligible.

Each application submitted must be for a single acquisition or development project. A project is defined as the acquisition or development of a property in a single location, with the exceptions noted in the Application Guide (listed in Supporting Documents below).

Grant recommendations are made by the MNRTF Board of Trustees in December. Final grant awards are dependent on the appropriation process, but in general are made within 12 to 18 months after the application deadline.

2019 Application Schedule:

January 2019: Application period starts in MiRecGrants
February 1, 2019: Recreation plans, and plan amendments must be submitted by this date in MiRecGrants.
April 1, 2019: Application due date.
April 2019: Applicants may receive requests for additional information based on an administrative completeness review.
May - July 2019: Grants Management staff conducts review of all applications and may conduct site visits.
August - September 2019: Preliminary scores are made available to applicants and supplemental information is requested.
September - October 2019: Grants Management staff review supplemental materials and complete final score evaluation.
Early December 2019: MNRTF Board makes final recommendations for funding.
December 2019- January* 2020: A bill is prepared and submitted to the Legislature for approval and appropriation of funds for the MNRTF Board final recommendations.
Early to Mid-2020: Grants Management distributes Project Agreements to grantees, usually by June, but actual date dependent on Legislature approval.
Mid to Late 2020: Projects may be started after the Project Agreement has been executed.

*All time periods given are best estimates at the time of publication and are subject to change.

All MNRTF Board meetings are open to the public; meeting dates, times, and locations are subject to change.

All applicants must have a current, 5-Year Recreation Plan that has been locally adopted, submitted in MiRecGrants by February 1st, and approved by the Department by the application deadline. For guidance on preparing a recreation plan or to amend your plan, consult the Department booklet Guidelines for the Development of Community Park, Recreation, Open Space, and Greenway Plans (IC 1924).

All applicants must hold at least one public meeting to receive input about the application. This meeting must be held within the six-month time period before the application deadline and before a resolution committing to the application is passed by your highest local governing body. If resubmitting an application, you must also hold a public meeting within the six-month time period before the application deadline. (Public meetings focused on review of your recreation plan will not meet your obligations for public input for your grant application unless the meeting notice and agenda indicate that the meeting will cover both recreation plan review and the specific grant application.)

At least 25 percent of the cost of the project is required as match from local government applicants. For match specifications, see the Application Guide listed in Supporting Documents below.

Development grantees are responsible for making payments toward the project’s constructions and are then reimbursed at the grant percentage, listed in the grant agreement, of the project cost up to the grant amount.

There is no limit to the number of applications that an applicant may submit within a funding cycle, however, the applicant will be asked to prioritize multiple applications of the same type (development or acquisition). Each application must be a standalone project, that is, not dependent on another project application in order to be constructed.

Receiving MNRTF assistance commits the grantee to certain long-term responsibilities. For a list of Long-Term Grant Obligations, see the Application Guide listed in Supporting Documents below.

If you have any questions as you prepare your recreation plan, please contact Grants Management.

Five Year Recreation Plan:,4570,7-350-79134_81684_79209_81658---,00.html

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Online application portal:


Jon Mayes, Program Manager

For questions about the MNRTF Application Guide or recreation plan, please contact:

Grants Management
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 30425
Lansing, MI 48909-7925

For further contact information about Recreation Grant coordinators, see the DNR Grant Staff map listed in Supporting Documents below.)

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Michigan