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ARPA-funded state parks improvement progress continues into fall
October 19, 2023
Cooler weather and autumn leaves aren’t the only changes visitors will notice at Michigan state parks this season. A number of planned improvement projects that are transforming amenities and infrastructure in several parks across the state are now completed, underway or getting ready to start.
“Michigan’s beloved, award-winning state parks play host to visitors’ treasured memories year after year: catching your first fish, telling stories around the campfire, connecting with family and friends. Our state parks are here for it all,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “These upgrades and improvements are what the Building Michigan Together Plan is all about, and it is gratifying to see these changes happening in real time. State parks support tens of thousands of jobs and countless local economies, empowering tourism and recreation small businesses across the state. It is critical that we invest in these destinations for current and future generations.”
Thanks to $250 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and outlined in Gov. Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is addressing a decades-long backlog of repair and maintenance concerns. The funds also will help build a new state park in Flint, Genesee County.
“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 Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “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.”
Michigan state parks welcome nearly 35 million people every year and are among the most-visited outdoor destinations in the country, making such improvements essential.
“Michigan’s beautiful outdoor spaces are a vital part of the fabric of our state. For the sake of our environment, our people and our economy, it’s crucial that we maintain our parks and trails,” said state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township). “As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee for the DNR, I’m proud to see available federal funding put to good use preserving and improving our state parks so they can provide recreation opportunities for generations to come.”
To learn about the status of ARPA-funded projects and to view an interactive map identifying proposed project locations and status of those projects, visit Michigan.gov/StateParksProgress.
Recently completed projects
Upgrades to the water treatment plant, which was more than 20 years old, were completed at Fayette State Park (Delta County) in August. A proposed $3.45 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County) opened the headquarters and visitor center entrance road in late August. A proposed $1.9 million in federal relief funding made these renovations possible.
Port Crescent State Park (Huron County)reopened the new park road today. The beach house pavilion is being reconstructed and will reopen by spring 2024. A proposed $4.3 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center (Bay County) in Bay City State Park reopened after substantial interior and exterior renovations, including a new reception area, exhibit hall, roof and siding, and the addition of a new science lab, were completed last week. A proposed $1.5 million in ARPA funding is available for this project.
“The DNR has done impressive work upgrading state parks with the ARPA funds allocated by our state Legislature. It’s great to see their efforts in a project so close to home at Bay City State Park,” said state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City). “I was also thrilled to secure $10 million in the state budget for reconstruction of the State Park Drive corridor leading into this park. These major renovations and infrastructure improvements will deliver safer, more inviting visitor experiences, and encourage more community members to enjoy our Great Lakes Bay Region’s nature and outdoor activities.”
TheStraits State Park (Mackinac County) upper campground reopened in late July after two new toilet and shower buildings were built. A proposed $2 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
Repairs to the water-damaged brick on the on the existing 63-foot tower of the historic lighthouse in Tawas Point State Park (Iosco County) are 95% complete. Additional work on the interior tower steps is based on available funding. If completed, the lighthouse will remain closed until June 2024. A proposed $3.1 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible. A recent Showcasing the DNR profile tells more of the lighthouse's story.
Projects nearing fall completion
Electrical and water distribution system upgrades at Cheboygan State Park’s (Cheboygan County) modern campground are slated for completion this fall. A proposed $4.08 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
The 92-mile Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park (work taking place in Mecosta and Montcalm counties)is set to reopen by the end of November, just in time for snowmobiling season. Trail users will notice a smoother surface along a 21-mile stretch between Howard City in Montcalm County and Big Rapids in Mecosta County. A small segment may close again in the spring for additional work. A proposed $9.6 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
Enhancements will wrap up at Hoffmaster State Park’s (Muskegon County) modern campground this fall, including upgraded water and sewer lines, campground roads and a new bike path. A proposed $6.4 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
At Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County), the Summit Peak parking lot expansion projectand toilet building project is slated for completion in November. Renovations to the historic service area, modern lodge and staff quarters will be completed by late fall or early winter. A proposed $4.78 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
Fall project starts
Bay City State Park’s (Bay County) will reopen in summer 2024 with a reconfigured road, new pedestrian sidewalks and bus drop-off loop in the day-use area, and a new entrance and pedestrian sidewalk in the modern campground. A proposed $2.85 million in ARPA funding, not including the visitor center improvements, was available for projects in this park.
Both toilet and shower buildings will be replaced and new electrical conductors, site pedestals and distribution panels will be installed in the west loop of Fort Custer Recreation Area’s (Kalamazoo County) modern campground. The campground is slated to reopen July 31, 2024. A proposed $3 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
"The west loop of the Fort Custer Recreation Area is a beautiful space that will soon become even easier to enjoy, thanks to the dedication of these ARPA dollars for updates to the campground," said state Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo). "Work continuing this fall and into 2024 will ensure this state park is helping put our best foot forward to showcase the beauty of western Michigan to all who visit, and I'm grateful for the work of all involved."
One of the toilet and shower buildings in Muskallonge Lake State Park’s (Luce County) modern campground – located in section 3 – will be replaced. As a result, section 3 is closed and slated to reopen June 21, 2024. A proposed $3.26 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
The toilet and shower building in the Hemlock loop of Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s (Chippewa County) Lower Falls modern campground will be replaced and is anticipated to reopen June 21, 2024. A proposed $4.3 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
Young State Park's (Charlevoix County) Spruce Campground – set to reopen in late summer 2024 – will be home to two new toilet and shower buildings, paved roads, sewer pumps and improved drainage. A proposed $2.82 million in federal relief funding made these renovations and others possible.
Other key project progress
Several other key projects will cross the finish line spring or early summer 2024. Visitors can look forward to the following upgrades and work:
- Belle Isle Park enhancements, including the replacement of the upper 60 feet of the 80-foot-tall dome in the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, and roof replacement and structural repairs at the Belle Isle Casino.
- Hartwick Pines State Park's modern campground electrical system upgrades.
- Kal-Haven Trail State Park resurfacing and bridge replacement.
Additional closure information
Find the latest details on closures at all DNR facilities and additional information on these park and trail improvement projects at Michigan.gov/DNRClosures. Other ARPA-funded projects are expected to start this fall and into 2024.
Questions on the projects? Contact Kristen Bennett, planning section manager for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, at 248-431-1265 or BennettK@Michigan.gov.