Whitmer debuts $250 million plan to invest in parks and trails

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Courtesy: Department of Natural Resources

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WLNS) —- President Biden’s American Rescue Plan has allowed Governor Whitmer to introduce a plan to make public parks and trails nicer spaces for both tourists and Michiganders- one with a $250 million price tag.

According to a press release from the Governor, every $1 that goes towards land conservation leads to $4 in economic benefit.

During the pandemic, Michigan saw an increase as large as 30% in visitors to state parks and recreational spaces. The state’s outdoor recreation industry sustains over 125,000 jobs and grosses over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries.

“Tourism is vital to Michigan’s economy and to our overall economic health, and COVID disproportionately harmed our tourism and hospitality sectors,” Whitmer said “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.” 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Not only will parks and trails be modernized, but access will be improved to these spaces, as well as placing a concentrated effort on park preservation. Additionally, water and sanitary systems will be upgraded, historic structures will be preserved, and essential park infrastructure will be installed and improved.

“Addressing the backlog of infrastructure needs within our State Parks has been a goal of many organizations for a number of years,” said Summers. “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.” 

Clay Summers, Executive Director of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association

For more details on this announcement, or to find proposed investment ideas, click here.

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