DNR completes first wave of projects in multi-year, $250M state park improvement campaign

What’s happening: It was hardly a year ago when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the first batch of Michigan State Parks scheduled to receive significant improvements and upgrades as part of a multi-year effort. As a group, that first wave of state parks represented nearly $16 million in projects – and just a fraction of the $250 million ultimately allocated. Many more projects have been announced since then and even more are still yet to come, but the DNR has recently announced that several of those first projects have now been completed.

How it’s happening: In total, Michigan will spend $250 million in State Park improvement projects, including the creation of a new State Park in Flint, this thanks to the $4.8 billion Building Michigan Together Plan signed by Gov. Whitmer in March 2022, a result of funds received from the federal American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARPA).

What got done: Crews at Interlochen State Park in Grand Traverse County recently completed Phase 1 of their project, replacing the electrical system there and adding new pedestals at each campsite in the south campground. Forthcoming projects include the modernization of the park’s day-use and restroom building, as well as key infrastructure improvements.

New and improved roads, parking lots, and a partially-completed bike path greet visitors to the day-use area at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon County. Completing this first phase of improvements is coupled with the closing of the park’s campground through the end of the year as additional improvements are made, including new water and sewer infrastructure, the completion of said bike path, and more.

Mitchell State Park in Wexford County has new roads, parking lots, and jug fillers, among their improvements. Renovations of the toilet facilities are still to come.

And Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County welcomed a new roof on its chapel and another on the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum’s bunkhouse. Additional improvements, including electrical infrastructure and renovations to the visitor center and Memorial Building, are forthcoming.

What’s nearly done: Bay City State Park, Straits State Park, and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park each have significant projects expected to be completed soon. The state’s Building Michigan Together Plan website offers up-to-date progress reports on each of the ARPA-funded State Park projects.

Why it’s important: "These federal funds will allow us to deliver better, safer and more inviting visitor experiences and makes serious investments in infrastructure. With what's considered a short time frame to efficiently spend the funds for projects of this magnitude, our staff had to hit the ground running to prioritize needs and plan, bid and execute projects with contractors,” Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation chief, says in a statement. "We are proud to say that we’ve seen several of these projects through to successful completion, and we’re excited to share this ARPA milestone – the first of many – with our visitors."

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