August 31, 2020

Michigan Voters to Decide if Oil and Gas Royalties Should Fund Conservation in Perpetuity

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

On August 25, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined several mission partners, conservation organizations, and business leaders to support a ballot question that will appear before Michigan voters in November. The ballot question, if passed, would ensure that all the money generated from oil and gas royalties on state land will go to acquiring and improving natural spaces for all Michiganders to enjoy.

The language on the ballot would remove the cap on the amount of money that can be collected by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF), which is currently set at $500 million. The trust fund, originally created by the legislature in 1976, has contributed nearly $2 billion toward land purchases and recreational development projects throughout Michigan. The trust fund was created to utilize the interest off of Michigan’s oil and gas royalties for the acquisition of new lands and recreational development. This amendment to the state constitution will strengthen the MNRTF and provide a permanent funding source for conservation and recreation in perpetuity. 

Although many of the grants have been awarded to local municipalities to purchase or improve local parks, sportsmen and women have benefited greatly from the MNRTF as well. To date, the MNRTF has provided over $1,000,000 to match federal funds used for shooting range development across the state. Additionally, millions of dollars have also been used to acquire state land that is open to hunting and fishing, including lands that support vital pheasant habitat. The MNRTF has also supported the construction of many fishing piers and boat launches throughout the state. To date, all 83 Michigan counties have received MNRTF money. Ultimately, removing the cap on the MNRTF ensures that monies from oil and gas royalties are going back to fund conservation projects and outdoor spaces for Michigan residents to enjoy while increasing the amount of money that the state can spend on these projects without raising taxes. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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