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Waterways facilities

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.
Explore Michigan boating

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 »

Key project updates

Torch River Bridge Boating Access Site (Antrim County)

In 2020, the DNR acquired an additional 1.5 acres of property to expand the Torch River Bridge Boating Access Site. The popular site is located at the mouth of Torch River on the south end of Torch Lake. After gathering public feedback on proposed site concepts at a June 2022 public meeting, the following site enhancements are being planned:

  • New entrance/exit onto SW Torch Lake Drive.
  • Installation of a double-lane boat launch.
  • Addition of 25-plus boat/trailer parking spaces.
  • New accommodations for carry-in launching and car-only parking.
  • Installation of a vault toilet.
  • Pave the site and sidewalks.

View proposed site rendering »

 
Anticipated timeline Work taking place
January 2024 Project bidding
March 2024 Construction timeline finalized
April through September 2024
(will reopen July 1-8)
Anticipated construction period
*No construction activities will take place July 1-8

Waterways Facilities Assessment

In 2020, the DNR completed a Waterways Facilities Assessment of several state-sponsored (state and local grant-in-aid) harbors, boating access sites and two lock/dam facilities. This effort culminated in a report that includes facility infrastructure data, cost analysis, trends, and facility operation and development recommendations. This report provides guidance on funding, design, and operations.

Grants

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.