Significantly, the bill would also:
• Prevent the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from seeking any other federal
or state funds for land acquisition until they first seek and then are denied an application to the Trust Fund. In essence, the DNR could not leverage other public funding sources first. It could also force all state land acquisitions to be pursued solely through the Trust Fund, which compete against local government acquisition applications, putting even greater demands on the popular grant program.
• Prohibit the DNR from restricting access on any lands it acquires through the Trust
Fund; broadly interpreted that could mean all uses on all lands at all times—a recipe for user conflicts, degradation of public lands, and lower quality experiences.
• Restate the requirement that the Trust Fund pay PILT on all state lands acquired with
Trust Fund dollars.
• Reverse current policy and allow for the repurchase of already publicly held lands,
including those purchased with federal Pittman-Robertson dollars, thereby shifting their status to “Trust Fund acquired” lands. That shift would then prevent the DNR from restricting access to those lands and require the Trust Fund to make PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) on those lands—again, overall shrinking the grant capacity of the Trust Fund.
• Require that 25% of funds available for land acquisition be spent on trails. While on
its face that may align with many state and local trail priorities, a statutory mandate to fund certain types of projects has the untended consequence of potentially elevating poorly conceived projects over those of higher quality.
Meetings with Sen. Booher and conservancies in his district are in the works, Heart of the Lakes and other members will meet with other key Senators to address our concerns. In addition to Heart of the Lakes, DNR Director Creagh testified against SB 206 at the hearing, as did the Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association. The Conservation Fund, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and the Sierra Club also registered their opposition.