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Advocacy + Public Policy Priorities

Legislative advocacy is a top priority of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association. mParks advocates for state and federal policies that support essential parks and recreation services. The Association's Public Policy Committee monitors legislation related to parks, tourism and recreation issues, suggests positions to the Board of Directors, and keeps the membership informed.

mParks Public Policy Platform & Priorities

Who is mParks?

The Michigan Recreation and Park Association is the voice of Michigan’s parks and recreation community. mParks represents a devoted and diverse membership of nearly 2,800; the Association’s professional, vendor, and agency members serve and represent nearly 10 million Michigan residents.

mParks Public Policy

Association members and staff engage with government, foundations, media, and other entities to advance the interest of Michigan’s recreation and parks community. A key component of these advocacy efforts is the mParks Public Policy committee, which meets regularly to identify, discuss, and recommend positions on legislation and policies that impact the delivery of parks and recreation services. This includes but is not limited to, land-use development (zoning, planning, etc.) and financing mechanisms. Learn more and get involved with mParks’s Public Policy Committee by visiting

mParks’s 2018-2019 Priority Issues

While the following items are mParks’s current priority issues, additional legislation may be introduced that can impact Michigan’s parks and recreation industry. To stay in the loop, make sure you’re signed up for mParks’s e‐blast newsletter, and connect with us on social media. Visit to learn more.

Parks, Recreation and Trails Funding

Parks and recreation services strengthen local economies, enhance quality of life, create vibrant communities, and improve resident health.
mParks supports legislation that creates innovative financing mechanisms that support impactful parks and recreation infrastructure projects on the state, regional, county, and local level, as well as the following programs and legislation:

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF)

The MNRTF is a key funding source for capital projects for parks and recreation agencies and has provided more than $1 billion to local communities and the State of Michigan to protect natural resources and develop outdoor recreation opportunities. Trust Fund projects create vibrant communities and enhance resident quality of life.


  • mParks supports the original intent of the MNRTF; any attempt to redirect Trust Fund dollars outside of acquisition and development projects goes against the desire of Michigan residents, who have repeatedly voted to protect the MNRTF in Michigan’s constitution.
  • mParks supports lifting the funding cap for the MNRTF. If the funding cap is not lifted, mParks supports sending additional funds to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, rather than the state’s General Fund.
  • mParks encourages discussion on changing the current project percentage allocations between MNRTF acquisition and development projects.
  • mParks supports indexing to inflation.
  • When the State Park Endowment Fund reaches its cap, mParks supports all ongoing revenue remains dedicated to Natural Resources and not re-directed to the state’s General Fund.
  • Related Bills: mParks will monitor key legislation as it is introduced and will provide information to its members in a timely fashion.

Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund

Established with the passage of Ballot Proposal P, the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund was created in 1994 to provide a stable, consistent source of funding for Michigan's state parks system.


  • mParks supports lifting the funding cap for the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund. If the funding cap is not lifted, mParks supports sending additional funds to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, rather than the state’s General Fund.
  • mParks supports the opt out option for the Recreation Passport.

Land & Water Conservation Fund and State Assistance Program

The LWCF state assistance program provides matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks and recreation resources. Since its inception, more than $3 billion in grants to states has been used to leverage more than $7 billion in nonfederal matching funds – but funding levels have been unpredictable.


  •  mParks supports full appropriations for Land and Water Conservation Fund with full and permanent funding.
  • A 60/40 split between federal and state funds was originally intended for the LWCF, however historically, significantly less funding has been provided to the state assistance program. mParks is in favor of a mechanism to ensure that the intended 40% of all LWCF dollars reaches state and local projects via the state assistance program.


Revenue Sharing

mParks supports continued enhancement of both constitutional and statutory state shared revenue to local units of government.

Community Parks Revitalization Act

Four out of five Americans reside in urban or metropolitan areas. The Community Parks Revitalization Act would create an innovative federal financing mechanism for Park and Recreation Infrastructure (PIFIA), as well as matching grants to help revitalize local urban communities.

Health & Wellness

Access to affordable programs and places for active recreation is critical to the health and wellness of Michiganders. mParks supports policies, programs, and funding to enhance opportunities for physical fitness, prevent chronic disease, and reduce obesity (particularly among youth) through parks and recreation services and amenities.

Trails and Transportation

Dedicated funding for Active Transportation options, including trails and pedestrian projects, is primarily through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Combined, these programs, found in the federal surface transportation bill, the FAST Act, provide approximately $800 million annually for bike and pedestrian projects and to promote pedestrian and bicycling safety in local communities. The FAST Act passed in December 2015, but there will be a need in the future for another iteration of this bill to continue funding our nation's infrastructure.

ACT 51 Funds

Article IX, Section 9, of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, as amended, states that "All specific taxes . . . imposed directly or indirectly on fuels sold or used to propel motor vehicles upon highways. . . or on registered motor vehicles . . . shall, after payment of necessary collection expenses, be used exclusively for transportation purposes. . ." Public Act 51 of 1951, as amended ("Act 51") governs the distribution of this revenue. The following pages summarize this distribution. Act 51 creates a fund into which specific transportation taxes are deposited, and prescribes how these revenues are to be distributed and the purposes for which they can be spent. Act 51 establishes jurisdictional road networks, sets priorities for the use of transportation revenues, and allows bonded indebtedness for transportation improvements and guarantees repayment of debt. The Act also imposes administrative requirements on road agencies, and creates several institutions not having to do with finance.


  • mParks supports the full preservation of funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program 
  • mParks supports allocating ACT 51 funds for non-motorized transportation

No Child Left Inside Act & Initiative

Public parks and recreation services are vital to the national effort to provide safe, healthy avenues for youth to explore nature and receive enhance environmental education. mParks supports initiatives that strengthen Environmental Education through teach training and encourages the implementation of Environmental Literacy Plans for K-12 public schools.

Healthy Kids Outdoors Act

The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out programs and activities that connect residents, especially children, youth, and families, with the outdoors, with grants available for innovative 5-year state-wide strategies.

Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization

Parks and Recreation providers are the largest public provider of food programs outside of schools. The Summer Meals Act is designed to strengthen and improve the Summer Nutrition Programs, which allow park and recreation agencies to provide healthy meals and snacks to millions of hungry children when school is out of session.


  •  mParks supports funding for food programs outside of schools and including parks and recreation agencies as eligible recipients of funds.

Safe Streets and Bike/Ped Infrastructure Improvement

The Safe Streets Act promotes a “Complete Streets Policy” and ensures that all users are considered in street planning and design. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Improvement Act offers local governments the ability to finance bike/ped infrastructure through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (therefore requiring no new federal spending).


Access to affordable programs and places for active recreation is critical to the health and wellness of Michiganders. mParks supports policies, programs, and funding to enhance opportunities for physical fitness, prevent chronic disease, and reduce obesity (particularly among youth) through parks and recreation services and amenities.

  • Sports Official Safety
  • Recreation Authorities
  • Additional Legislation as Needed

mParks also supports the following programs, plans and coalitions (this is not a static nor definitive list, mParks may choose to add or remove partners at any time:

  • Universally Accessible Recreation
  • Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan
  • The Michigan Blue Ribbon Panel on State Parks & Outdoor Recreation Report to Governor Snyder
  • The Michigan Comprehensive Trails Plan
  • The Michigan Health and Wellness 4x4 Plan
  • State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)
  • The Michigan Municipal League’s Prosperity Agenda
  • Safe Routes to School
  • Community Development Block Grant Funds (Federal)
  • 21st Century Learning Center Funding (Federal)
  • MACPRO (Michigan Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials)
  • Conservancy(ies)



The Michigan Recreation and Park Association (mParks) legislative priorities may not reflect the views of all mParks member agencies. This document is meant to be a general guideline for reference, as important legislative issues arise relating to the items outlined. It is important to note that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) as a state of Michigan agency and member of mParks would be neutral in opinion to any state legislation related to items mentioned in the above document.


Approved and Recommended by Public Policy Committee: February 16, 2018
Approved and Passed by Board of Directors: March 16, 2018