According to a recent report by The Outdoor Foundation, more than half of Americans over the age of six participated in outdoor activities in 2021, and 164 million people across the country enjoyed the outdoors last year. Since 2020, the number of people trying an outdoor recreation for the first time — or reconnecting with nature — has increased by more than 25%, according to the 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report.
“It’s great to see more Americans, including Michiganders, getting out and enjoying all that nature has to offer. Finally, studies have shown that spending time outdoors helps reduce stress and anxiety,” said Rich Bowman, policy director of The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. “However, this steady increase in participation means that Legislature and Governor Gretchen Whitmer must consider the long-term success of our state and local parks and outdoor spaces — and that begins with approving a one-time grant to the State Park Endowment Fund.”
The state has an estimated budget surplus of $6 billion, and a one-time payment of $500 million to the State Park Endowment Fund equates to a $50-$80 million tax cut forever since there are no taxes to fund operations are required of our state parks.
It will provide critical funding for state park operations and maintenance so Michigan can sustain the world-class parks that will be built over the next few years thanks to the Legislature’s $250 million investment in state park infrastructure passed this spring.
The full funding of the State Park Endowment Fund will also trigger the allocation of oil, gas and mining royalty income from state-owned minerals to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which supports outdoor projects throughout the state.
“By allocating $500 million to the State Park Endowment Fund, the Legislature and Governor will make an unprecedented investment in our outdoor spaces and achieve the goal of Proposal 1, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2020, well before many thought it possible. ‘ said Bogenman. “Michigan’s natural areas are part of the fabric of our state, and we should seize every opportunity we have to invest in our most valuable natural resources so they can be enjoyed by future generations of Michiganns.”
While the Outdoor Participation Trends Report does not include a state breakdown, it does provide regional data. In the East North Central region, which includes Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, more than 15% of the population has enjoyed the great outdoors in the past six years.