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Waterways facilities management

bird's eye view of boats in harbor slips

We provide one of the premier boating programs in the country.

  • 82 state-sponsored harbors (19 state-managed harbors and 63 local state-sponsored harbors of refuge).
  • 1,300-plus state and local boating access sites.
  • two state lock/dam systems owned and administered by DNR.
  • 6,000-plus boat slips spread across state and local harbors.

Boating in Michigan »

The waterways program

Derived from boat registration fees and the Michigan marine fuel tax, the Waterways Program helps fund the construction, operation and maintenance of public recreational boating facilities.

  • The program supports state-administered harbors along the Great Lakes and state-administered boating access sites on the Great Lakes and inland waters.
  • The grant-in-aid program provides grants to local government for harbors along the Great Lakes and boating access sites throughout Michigan.

Waterways Commission

The Michigan State Waterways Commission is a seven-member advisory board that works with the Department of Natural Resources on the use of dedicated funds, provided by boaters, for the acquisition, development and maintenance of public harbors and boating access sites, as well as certain locks and dams.

Learn about the commission »

boat parked in harbor

Boating Infrastructure Grants

Provides federal funding assistance for the design and construction of public recreational harbor facilities serving transient boaters. Local units of government, public universities and private facilities are eligible.

Michigan Boating Pumpout Grants

Provides funding for new or upgraded marine sewage disposal facilities, pumpouts and dump stations. Grants are provided to both private and public boating facilities, as long as they are open to the public.

harbors with town in background

Waterways Program Grants

Provides financial and technical assistance for design and construction of public recreational boating facilities, including state-sponsored harbor and mooring facilities. Only local units of government and public universities are eligible to apply. 

Facilities assessment

In 2019, the Michigan DNR Waterways Program initiated a Waterways Facilities Assessment of several state-sponsored harbors, boating access sites and two lock/dam facilities. This effort culminated in the completion of a report that includes facility infrastructure data, cost analysis, trends and facility operation and development recommendations. This report will guide efforts on future funding, design and operations.