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Michigan to invest $250-million to modernize state parks and trails

Over the last year the state saw a 30% increase in visits to state parks and recreational areas as people went outdoors to socially distance during the pandemic.
Credit: Keely Lovern
On Saturday, June 5th, the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office got a report of an assault near the main pavilion at Holland State Park.

Thursday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a plan to invest in state parks and trails in Michigan. 

The plan would use $250-million in federal relief money from President Biden's American Rescue Plan to address the 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.”

The governor reasons that tourism to Michigan parks generates value for the surrounding communities. It also creates jobs and sustains small businesses. The governor says that for every dollar invested in land conservation leads to $4 in economic benefit. 

Over the last year the state saw a 30% increase in visits to state parks and recreational areas as people went outdoors to socially distance during the pandemic.

“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.”

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

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