Release: MUCC Thanks AG for Opinion Protecting Natural Resources Trust Fund

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a formal Attorney General Opinion today that the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund could not be used for dredging projects, which are considered maintenance.

The Michigan Constitution states that the Natural Resources Trust Fund can only be used for acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation lands, but does not authorize maintenance projects such as dredging, as proposed in recent legislation.

“This opinion should put the speculation to rest.  Maintenance dredging projects cannot be funded by the Natural Resources Trust Fund, period,” Schuette said in a statement.

The Opinion, No. 7270, does say that the Waterways Account in the Michigan Conservation and Recreation Legacy Fund can be used for dredging because the act creating it specifically authorizes maintenance, unlike the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

“The Natural Resources Trust Fund was meant to create long term outdoor recreation benefits for the people of Michigan, both current and future generations, said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “Michigan United Conservation Clubs, along with the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, have protected it for those purposes since its creation. We thank Attorney General Schuette for issuing this opinion to protect the Trust Fund for acquisition and development. We’re also happy to see that it identifies a more appropriate funding source for dredging with the Waterways Account.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund was created in 1976 and voted into the Michigan Constitution in 1984. It is funded by royalties generated from the sale of state-owned mineral rights, compensating Michigan citizens for the loss of nonrenewable resources with the acquisition and development of another nonrenewable resource, public recreation land.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs, founded in 1937, is the largest state-specific conservation organization in the country. Its mission is to unite citizens to conserve, defend and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.

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