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State of Michigan and National Park Service Announce Innovation Partnership


April 19, 2022


State of Michigan and National Park Service Announce Innovation Partnership to Promote Accessibility to National Parks

Partnership aims to improve safety, sustainability, and equitable access at national parks through innovative mobility technologies deployed in Michigan’s five national parks

LANSING, Mich. – Key members of the Whitmer Administration joined National Park Service Director Chuck Sams today to tour the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit and announce a first-of-its-kind partnership between the State of Michigan and the National Park Service (NPS) to collaborate on implementing safe, innovative technology to increase accessibility and equity in recreational and park settings. Through this partnership, the five national parks located in Michigan will provide an environment to pilot these emerging mobility technologies that will help make national parks across the country safer, more equitable and accessible to residents and visitors alike.

The partnership is part of a cross-departmental collaboration within the state of Michigan – including the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, part of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Department of Labor and Economic Development (LEO), and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification – announced as part of Director Sams’ visit to Detroit to celebrate NPS efforts to spark new ways to make national parks safer and more accessible as part of National Park Week’s “sPark Innovation” day.

“Michigan’s national parks, lakeshores, and scenic trails are a cornerstone of our world-class travel offerings, support countless local economies, and are foundational to who we are as Michiganders. I am excited to collaborate with the National Park Service to ensure these natural treasures remain safe, open, and free for generations to come,” said Governor Whitmer. “As we see more people make the switch to electric vehicles, our partnership will support the promotion and deployment of charging stations and other innovative mobility solutions at our national parks to grow our economy and make our public lands more accessible. At the state level, we will continue investing in our land and water with the recently enacted bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan, which includes the largest investments in water and parks in Michigan history.”

“From the Model T to the SUV, the great American road trip to visit national parks has been a treasured tradition, providing billions of people with easy, affordable and memorable access to our country’s landmarks. Today we honor the storied history of transportation innovation that made America’s grandest treasures accessible to the world while looking to the future with our new partnership,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “The partnership we celebrate today advances the National Park Service’s commitment to leveraging emerging technologies for cleaner and more sustainable transportation options that can also reduce congestion and improve experiences for park visitors. These efforts are bolstered by recent landmark legislation, including the Great American Outdoors Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, that encourages collaborative efforts to make infrastructure improvements in national parks.”

The State of Michigan and NPS have agreed to the following initiatives:

  • Research innovative mobility projects that have the potential to improve environmental sustainability or visitor access, relieve traffic congestion issues, or improve safety in and around national parks in the State of Michigan, and develop project proposals for implementing them.
  • Explore and identify potential electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects within national and state parks that would enable NPS visitors and staff to have access to charging stations.
  • Plan and execute knowledge and information sharing opportunities to support the advancement of innovative mobility and electrification initiatives related to public lands visitation and tourism.
  • Participate in community engagement efforts to develop plans and proposals for potential innovative mobility or electrification pilot projects.
  • Engage in general knowledge sharing and develop best practices to support the state’s goal of operationalizing the Lake Michigan Circuit to enable accessible and equitable electric vehicle tourism at state and national parks around the Great Lakes.

Michigan is home to five national parks; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and River Raisin National Battlefield Park. In 2020, 3.2 million park visitors spent an estimated $267 million in local communities supporting 3,770 jobs and contributing $380 million to Michigan’s economy while visiting National Park Service lands in Michigan.

“Michigan put the world on wheels and transformed how people live, work and recreate right here in Detroit and today, we are excited to build on that legacy to once again be at the forefront of creating a more equitable, accessible and sustainable mobility future,” said Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. “We are proud to bring together this first-of-its-kind partnership with the National Park Service to help drive innovation, travel and strong mobility future for Michigan’s residents and visitors alike.”

“At MDOT, we are about encouraging innovation and partnerships in all we do,” said Paul C. Ajegba, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. “This initiative capitalizes on both and underscores our commitment to reducing congestion and creating more sustainable mobility for visitors to see all our beautiful state has to offer.”

“We have entered a new era of more sustainable, innovative mobility solutions that represent the greatest economic opportunity Michigan has seen in generations,” said Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “Not only is it the future of Michigan’s automobility sector but testing and deploying these revolutionary technologies will help us create high-wage science and engineering jobs while futureproofing our state’s tourism and hospitality sectors.”

“The DNR and Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office are excited to work closely with our state and federal partners to design, test and deploy clean and sustainable transportation solutions that get more people outside and active in our State’s great outdoors,” said Brad Garmon, director of theMichigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. “Since Hamilton Carhartt began producing overalls in a small Detroit loft in 1885, to one of the first pop-up tent patents in Ann Arbor in 1955, to the invention of snowboarding in Muskegon in 1965, Michigan has always been a leading innovator, not only in transportation but in outdoor recreation. It only makes sense that Michigan is the state that will drive the future of sustainable recreation and mobility.”

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant where today’s event was held is part of the MotorCities National Heritage Area, linking the world’s largest collection of cultural and labor organizations, museums, archives, factories, auto collections and events to preserve the story of how tinkerers became titans and how auto and labor helped build the middle class while transforming manufacturing worldwide. Established by Congress, National Heritage Areas are locally led and managed with financial and technical assistance provided by the National Park Service.

Learn more about how Michigan is leading in transportation mobility and electrification visit To learn more about how the Great American Outdoors Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are investing in national parks visit

The Memorandum of Understanding can be found here.


National Park Service Director Chuck Sams


Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification


Paul C. Ajegba, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.


Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity


Brad Garmon, director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office


Guest speaker