Gov. Whitmer announces plan for state parks and trails investments across Michigan

Michigan

In a photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her virtual State of the State address the state, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021 in Lansing, Mich. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WJMN) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a plan for investments in state parks and trails across Michigan.

The plan calls for $250 million in federal relief from the American Rescue Plan to be used for new investments in parks and trails and to address a backlog of park infrastructure projects.

“Tourism is vital to Michigan’s economy and to our overall economic health, and COVID disproportionately harmed our tourism and hospitality sectors,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Investments in our public spaces make Michigan a more competitive and attractive destination for tourism, position us as a recreation leader, and are critical components of our seasonal and rural economies. This is a valuable use of our federal funds to help the communities who rely on tourism rebound from the public health crisis. Parks bring us together. They are equally beloved by all Michiganders, regardless of geography or income, race or class or politics.” 

Tourism in Michigan parks generates value for surrounding communities. On average, every $1 invested in land conservation generates $4 in economic benefit. Investments in parks will help Michigan continue to jumpstart the economy as the state emerges from the pandemic according to the Governor’s office.

The state saw a 30% increase in visitors to state parks and recreation areas during the pandemic. Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry supports billions in state GDP. It sustains 126,000 jobs and provides over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries in Michigan.

“As the number of visitors to Michigan’s 103 state parks has increased dramatically over the past couple of years, we’ve seen greater demands our park and trail infrastructure,” said Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “The funding announced by the Governor today will give our state parks a badly needed boost, while also aiding the state’s recovery through our natural resources and outdoor recreation tourism.” 

Funding will be used for projects that include upgrading water and sanitary systems, preserving historic structures, and installing and improving vital park infrastructure. 

“Addressing the backlog of infrastructure needs within our State Parks has been a goal of many organizations for a number of years,” said Clay Summers, Executive Director of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association. “This investment will not only help Michigan’s State Parks but in the long run, it will truly help all parks in the state. By meeting the needs of the State Parks, your local city, township, county and regional park systems will now be priority recipients of grant funding and other alternative sources. This is a huge win for all Michigan residents and will provide safe, accessible and inclusive park systems for all.” 

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