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Jack Westbrook highlights achievements of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Wednesday evening

Retired editor of the Michigan Oil & Gas News magazine and author of seven books, Jack Westbrook, visited his hometown of Mount Pleasant to host a presentation.

About 15 students and community members gathered in the Charles V. Park Library Auditorium Wednesday evening to hear Westbrook talk about the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The event was a part of the Clarke Historical Library Speakers Series.

“We feature speakers who talk about Michigan topics and Michigan authors, so Jack fits both,” said Frank Boles, Director of Clarke Historical Library. “The MNRTF is almost one of those unheard of things in the state and it’s unfortunate because it’s an extraordinary resource.”

During the presentation, Westbrook compared the Michigan Basin to a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal, cracked jokes about his unlucky fishing endeavors and discussed this history of the MNRTF and the projects it has funded.

Westbrook spoke to the audience members about the more than $800,000,000 spent in 1,601 active or completed recreation projects funded by the MNRTF, including projects in Mount Pleasant. The Fund provided $500,000 in the Chippewa River restoration and $854,862 total for projects in Isabella County, he said.

The MNRTF was started in 1976 and funds public recreation lands acquisition and development. Funding for projects like parks, trails and land preservation comes from royalties on mineral revenues that are deposited into the State Parks Endowment Fund.

The presentation lasted about 45 minutes and was followed by a reception at the Clarke Historical Library where Westbrook signed copies of his latest book, “Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fun 1976-2011,” which he described as a guide book to biking and camping around Michigan.

Mount Pleasant residents Hud and Anne Keenan came to the event because of their long-time love of natural resources.

“A long time ago, George Wheeler instilled in us his love of conservation and natural resources,” Hud said. “Plus, we both are big rail trail people, so we’ve ridden a lot on MNRTF trails.”

Boles said Westbrook is also known for his historical photos and work in “Mount Pleasant: Then & Now,” “Central Michigan University” and “Isabella County 1859-2009” and his contributions to the Clarke Historical Library.