DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
A handful of locations throughout Michigan’s state parks and recreation system will temporarily close this summer and fall, but for good reason: road reconstruction, historic preservation, upgraded electrical and water distribution systems, visitor center enhancements, new toilet and shower buildings and other work aimed at making the visitor experience more enjoyable and comfortable.
Many of these critical projects are possible through millions of dollars in federal relief COVID-19 funding – the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – while other planned projects are funded through Recreation Passport dollars and various state and federal grants.
A total $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds was made available to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources last March to help address a long list of critical needs in state parks and trails and build a new state park in Flint. These federal ARPA relief funds are part of a $4.8 billion infrastructure package outlined in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan.
"It wasn’t more than a few years ago that we were trying to identify nearly $300 million in funds to assess a backlog of state park infrastructure needs," said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation chief. "Today, we have the great fortune of administering a once-in-a-lifetime investment of $250 million over three years, allowing us to deliver tangible improvements at these outdoor spaces that people love and return to, season after season."
Federal funding requirements stipulate that ARPA funds must be obligated (committed to a project) by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent on that project by Dec. 31, 2026.
Olson also said that approximately 97 per cent of regular state parks funding is generated by user fees, which includes revenue from Recreation Passport entry fees, and royalty revenues. Only three per cent comes from Michigan's General Fund tax dollars, further illustrating the incredible value and importance of these one-time federal funds and their long-term impact on the system.
A few examples of ARPA-funded work are campground enhancements at Algonac, Cheboygan, Hoffmaster, Interlochen and Straits state parks and Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area; major renovations to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory in Belle Isle Park; visitor center improvements at Bay City State Park, and restoration work at the Tawas Point Lighthouse.
Beyond the ARPA-funded work, there are additional planned state park and trail enhancement projects that are using other funds or are due to weather-related conditions. All closures will be temporary, and staff is working hard to minimize the impact to visitors.
Before you visit a state park, boating site or trail, it is always a good idea to check the latest closures due to planned improvement projects, repairs and weather-related events in DNR facilities around the state. A list of ongoing/updated alerts can be found at Michigan.gov/DNRClosures.
To stay up to date on the status of ARPA-funded projects and learn more about funding and decision-making, visit Michigan.gov/StateParksProgress.
There you'll find FAQs, a photo gallery and an interactive map identifying proposed project locations, details and status of those projects.
It’s important to note that the map is specific to ARPA-funded projects; it does not include the variety of other work happening at state parks, trails and waterways. Also, keep in mind that ARPA-funded project costs and timelines shown on the interactive map are estimates based on the most urgent needs in the state parks and recreation system, but those estimates may be affected by contractor availability and supply chain challenges.