Michigan state parks get upgrades with funds from Biden administration

Hartwick Pines State Park (Courtesy/Grayling Visitor's Bureau)

By Kyle Kaminski

October 25, 2023

Millions of dollars in funding provided through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan are improving Michigan’s state parks. And much of the work is just getting started.

MICHIGAN—The great outdoors are getting greater in Michigan.

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) this month announced several improvement projects across six state parks are now finished, with several more underway or getting ready to start thanks to funding provided through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.

“It’s gratifying to see these changes happening in real time,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “It is critical that we invest in these destinations for current and future generations.”

The funding for the fixes was part of Whitmer’s bipartisan “Building Michigan Together” plan to invest nearly $5 billion in infrastructure, which she signed into law last year. That legislation earmarked about $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to address a backlog of repair and maintenance concerns at state parks, as well as to help build a new one in Flint.

This week’s announcement builds on a long list of improvements already made this summer.

In addition to making “serious” investments in infrastructure, the federal funding will also make for a “better, safer, and more inviting” experience at state parks, according to state officials.

“This is an incredibly busy, industrious time for Michigan state parks, and we’re excited for our visitors to experience and enjoy the results of this hard work,” said DNR spokesman Ron Olson.

He added: “Some projects, like new traffic lanes, paved trails and spruced-up shower buildings, will be obvious. Others, such as upgraded water and electrical systems and improved sanitation systems, may not be as visible but are critically important to better visitor experiences.”

Among the recently completed projects:

  • Port Crescent State Park in Huron County reopened a new road into the park this month, and will use the rest of its $4.3 million in federal funding to reconstruct a new beach house pavilion.
  • Fayette State Park in Delta County received $3.5 million in federal funding to upgrade its water treatment plant, which was more than 20 years old. The project was finished in August.
  • Tawas Point State Park in Iosco County is nearly finished repairing the water-damaged brick on its historic lighthouse after receiving $3.1 million to make the renovations possible. The lighthouse is still expected to remain closed off to the public until next summer.
  • Straits State Park in Mackinac County was able to reopen its upper campground in late July after installing two new toilet and shower buildings using $2 million in federal funding.
  • Porcupines Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon County used $1.9 million in federal funding to pave a new entrance road to its headquarters building and visitor center.
  • The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center at Bay City State Park received $1.5 million in federal funding for interior and exterior renovations—including a new reception area, exhibit hall, and science lab. Those projects were completed last week, and the park has since reopened to the public.

Other projects are nearing completion, including:

  • Cheboygan State Park is set to finish electrical and water distribution system upgrades at its modern campground this fall. The project received $4.1 million in federal funding.
  • The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail is expected to reopen by December—just in time for snowmobiling season—after resurfacing a 21-mile stretch between Howard City in Montcalm County and Big Rapids in Mecosta County. The project received $9.6 million in federal funds.
  • Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon County will finish improvements to its campground this fall, which include new roads and a bike path. The project used $6.4 million in federal funding.
  • Porcupines Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon County is set to finish its new parking lot and toilet buildings in November, and then complete renovations to its service area, lodge, and staff quarters by early winter. The project involved $4.8 million in federal funds.

Additional state parks projects set to begin this fall include:

  • Bay City State Park is set to reopen next summer with new roads, sidewalks, and a bus drop-off loop in the day-use area, as well as a new entrance and sidewalk in the modern campground. The project is slated to use about $2.9 million federal funding.
  • Fort Custer Recreation Area in Kalamazoo is set to use about $3 million in federal funding to replace its toilet and shower buildings and improve the electrical system in its campground.
  • Muskallonge Lake State Park in Luce County and Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Chippewa County will each get new toilet and shower buildings in their campgrounds, which will be fully reopened by next June. The projects are estimated to use $7.6 million in federal funds.
  • The Spruce Campground at Young State Park in Charlevoix County is set to reopen next summer after it received about $2.8 million in federal funds to install two new toilet and shower buildings, pave new roads, and improve its sewage and drainage systems.

More improvement projects are underway at Belle Isle Park, Hartwick Pines State Park, and Kal-Haven Trail State Park. Click here for more details about the current status of each project.

READ MORE: Michigan Just Spent Millions to Fix Up Several State Parks

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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