Defend the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund

By: Sean Courtney, Staff Member

The Attorney General for the State of Michigan is Bill Schuette and he has been a staunch upholder of the Michigan Constitution.[i] Recently, he spoke about the need to preserve the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) for its intended purpose.[ii] In 1984, the MNRTF began by an amendment to the Michigan Constitution.[iii] The MNRTF “is used to develop public recreation lands and is supported by oil, gas, and other mineral lease and royalty payments.” [iv] Thus, “the trust fund is constitutionally restricted for natural resources improvements and land acquisitions across the state.”[v] Since Michigan passed a constitutional amendment, legislators should not be allowed to reallocate money from the Trust Fund for their own “programs or projects.”[vi] Recent economic troubles in Michigan have led to a desire by lawmakers for the money to go elsewhere despite the constitutional implications involved.[vii] Attorney General Schutte has been clear in his directive through an “official opinion” that the Michigan legislature cannot do that.[viii] Schuette should continue to defend the MNRTF and ensure that the legislature allocates money from the fund properly.

Michigan has some of the most scenic parks and tourist areas in the country, and these areas need the MNRTF funds for both preservation and revitalization.[ix] “The Michigan Senate recently approved legislation allocating $27.6 million from the Natural Resources Trust Fund for 76 projects across the state, including upgrades to Midland’s Emerson Park area along the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail.”[x] It is in the best interest of Michigan residents that the state continues to attract visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of its natural resources. Tourists visiting Michigan from other states will inevitably spend money in the state, which will therefore lessen the state’s financial woes.[xi] Schuette should remain steadfast in protecting the MNRTF to preserve the state’s vast natural resources and defend the Michigan Constitution like he has done with so many other constitutional issues.[xii]
[i] Ilsa Matthes, Attorney General on Tour of U.P., Escanaba Daily Press (Mar. 28, 2014),
[ii] Id.
[iii] Id.
[iv] Id.
[v] Natural Resources Trust Fund Plan Passed by Senate Supports Local Park Improvements, Midland Daily News (Mar. 30, 2014),
[vi] Matthes, supra note 1.
[vii] Id.
[viii] Id.
[ix] Natural, supra note 4.
[x] Id.
[xi] Matthes, supra note 1.
[xii] Id.