Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer unveils $150M investment in local parks, trails

By: - July 6, 2021 1:51 pm

The Big Sable Lighthouse on the Lake Michigan shore. Ludington State Park. Ludington, Michigan | Getty Images

Speaking from Ottawa County’s Idema Explorers Trail on Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her plan to invest $150 million in local community parks and recreation facilities across Michigan.

The plan would use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden’s, and is a follow-up to Whitmer’s recently proposed investment of $250 million in state parks, which would also use federal relief funds.

Both investment proposals combined would give a boost of $400 million total to Michigan’s local and state park systems.

“These two new investment programs, totaling $400 million, mark a once-in-a-generation chance to improve quality of life for our residents, support local economies and bring people back to Michigan as the state continues its recovery from the effects of the pandemic,” Whitmer said Tuesday. “These investments will ensure our children and grandchildren continue to enjoy the rejuvenating benefits of natural beauty and outdoor spaces so prized by Michiganders.”

According to Whitmer’s office, about half of the annual development grant requests received by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) over the last five years could not be met because of lack of available funding.

The proposed $150 million investment would be administered as a grant program by the DNR. Whitmer said it would support local blue-collar jobs as Michigan’s economy continues to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Infrastructure needs in the state’s estimated 4,000 local parks are substantial,” said Emily Stevens, president of mParks Michigan Park and Recreation Association. “Local parks saw an influx of visitors in the past year as people sought safe, socially distanced outlets for recreation during the pandemic.”

Whitmer recently proclaimed July as Parks and Recreation Month.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).