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Health, Science and Environment

Governor Whitmer plan calls for millions to modernize state parks

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Michigan DNR
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Michigan DNR

Michigan’s parks and trails could see major improvements under a multi-million-dollar proposal from Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The governor wants to use 250 million in American Rescue Plan funding to modernize state parks and trails, many of which saw record numbers of visitors last year.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has had a backlog of projects for years that currently totals 260 million dollars. The money would be used to modernize roads, buildings, electric systems, and sewer and water systems, among other projects.

DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson says that the greater number of visitors is even more of an incentive to update park infrastructure.

“So, we see that people are really wanting to get out, including in the UP," Olson said. "We want to make sure that the facilities are up to standard so that the increasing numbers [of people] continue to come and enjoy themselves.”

Olson also noted that the park system is 102 years old, and that an update would be of dire need to the parks that are outdated.

“So, there’s many elements of the park system that were built over those many, many years, and some of them are antiquated," Olson said. "They’re not up to current standards.” 

The proposal needs to go through the legislative process. If it’s passed and appropriated, park projects would begin in the fiscal year of 2022, which starts Oct. 1.