11 Michigan Counties To Receive Park Upgrade Grants

Lansing, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have announced that they recommended 13 community parks, trails, and sports facilities and a state lock and dam to receive a combined $7,477,100 in Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants.

"The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a shining example of what’s possible when federal, state and local government partners come together to deliver real benefits for Michigan residents and visitors,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today’s $7.4 million in projects will improve facilities people use every day and support the outdoor recreation economy that brings billions in value and supports thousands of jobs across Michigan. Let’s keep working together to invest in Pure Michigan.”

The projects recommended for funding are in Alpena, Bay, Cass, Cheboygan, Ionia, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Macomb, Marquette, Montcalm and Ottawa counties. That funding will support boardwalk, trail and park renovations and improvements, park pavilion and restroom development, lock and dam public water access and more.

Location (county), project title and grant amount for each project are:

  • (Ingham County) Lake Lansing Park North Boardwalk & Trail: $500,000
  • (Bay County) Pondside Park Improvements: $375,000
  • (Ionia County) Hale Park Improvements: $382,000
  • (Montcalm County) Fred Meijer Trail Hub Project, $465,400
  • (Alpena County) Duck Park Development of Pavilion and Restrooms: $150,000
  • (Cass County) DR LAWLESS INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY PARK Renovation Project: $428,600
  • (Marquette County) Michigamme Township Park Dock Access & Tennis Renovation: $183,200
  • (Macomb County) Lake St. Clair Metropark W. Boardwalk Renovation: $500,000
  • (Marquette County) Tourist Park Day-Use Access Road and Parking Area: $250,000
  • (Kalamazoo County) Lexington Green Park Improvement Project: $500,000
  • (Macomb County) Stony Creek Reflection Trail Accessibility Renovation: $500,000
  • (Cheboygan County) Cheboygan Lock & Dam Public Water Access Site Renovation: $3,000,000
  • (Ottawa County) Ottawa Sands Day-use Restroom: $242,900

“Access to the outdoors is vital to the quality of life for everyone who lives here or visits here,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund, in addition to other important grant programs, broadens that access in meaningful ways, whether through expanded hiking trails, increased public water access, or better amenities like restroom renovations and welcoming pavilions at local parks. These grants are integral to connecting more people to our state’s uniquely Michigan outdoor experiences.”

Selected projects were scored and selected from a field of 18 grant applications seeking $8.6 million in local funding.

Governor Whitmer’s State and Local Parks Funding

In 2022, Governor Whitmer signed the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan, which will invest approximately $250 million to address a significant backlog of infrastructure, repair, and maintenance needs at 103 existing state parks. Combined with the Building Michigan Together Plan’s $200 million investment in local parks and recreation facilities, Michigan is investing a once-in-a-lifetime total of $450 million to make Michigan’s parks and recreation resources safer, more attractive, and welcoming for residents and visitors.

Economic Benefits of Parks

Parks and recreation facilities are a big part of Michigan’s economy, generating value for surrounding communities, creating jobs and helping sustain small businesses. Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry supports billions in state Gross Domestic Product and sustains 126,000 jobs and over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries in the state.

On average, every $1 invested in land conservation leads to $4 in economic benefit, meaning the Building Michigan Together Plan’s $250 million investment in state parks will yield $1 billion in economic benefits for families, small businesses, and local communities. 

Program background

The DNR uses LWCF dollars to help develop public outdoor recreation facilities to give people better, broader access to quality public outdoor recreation opportunities. The program supports Native American tribes, villages, cities, townships and counties and divisions within the DNR in their efforts to give people better, broader access to quality public outdoor recreation opportunities. Following federal appropriation, LWCF funds are apportioned to the states each fiscal year, and then, the state’s project recommendations are sent to the National Park Service for approval.

The Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law in August 2020, established permanent funding for the LWCF. With the change in legislation, the state will see more fiscal stability and increased funding in the LWCF grant program.

Application information

Eligible applicants include any unit of government, such as Native American tribes, school districts or any combination of units with the legal authority to provide recreation. Applicants can seek funding for a variety of projects, including development of and improvements to playgrounds, trails and walkways, skate parks, boat launches, picnic areas, sports fields and campgrounds, in addition to improved access for users of all abilities beyond Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

Application materials and information for LWCF grants will be available early in 2023 at Michigan.gov/LWCFGrants. Applications for the 2023 funding cycle are due April 1.

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