Improvements on tap for Cheboygan locks and dam

The Cheboygan Lock & Dam Public Water Access Site is one of 13 community parks, trails, and sports facilities slated to receive a combined $7,477,100 in Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants.

What’s happening: The Cheboygan Lock & Dam Public Water Access Site is a popular park in the city of Cheboygan, about 16 miles east of Mackinaw City. The park is a scenic location used for picnicking, fishing, lock viewing, and recreational boating between Mullett Lake and Lake Huron.

The proposed project will upgrade the aging lock system by reconstructing bank stabilization, automating six lock gates, reconstructing the downstream lock wall and renovating the public lock-viewing platforms along the channel. There is one lock structure that can handle up to a 60-foot-long boat with a 16-foot beam. 
Ronda Osga, regional field planner for the Gaylord District, says the dam’s six gates are being upgraded with push-button controls; they are currently operated by a handwheel or drill at the top of each gate to open or close it. Automating the gates will allow the operator to open and close them from the control booth, saving time and creating a better work environment with less exposure to the elements; these gates are operated year round, Osga says.   

The funding: Half of the $6 million Cheboygan Lock & Dam Public Water Access Site Renovation project will be funded by the Land and Water Conservation fund; the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is providing a $3 million match, as required by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Why it matters: There are two locks on the inner-coastal waterway between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, one in Alanson and one in Cheboygan. Approximately 4,000 recreational boats move through the locks each year.  The project has received strong support from the city of Cheboygan and Cheboygan County. “We look forward to improving efficiency and access to Michigan’s waterways,” says Matt Lincoln, Land Specialist, Grant Coordinator, Park Planner, DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

The big picture: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the $7.4 million in projects will improve facilities people use every day and support the outdoor recreation economy that brings billions in value and supports thousands of jobs across Michigan. The other projects recommended for funding are in Alpena, Bay, Cass, Cheboygan, Ionia, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Macomb, Marquette, Montcalm and Ottawa counties. 

Here are some of the others and the appropriated funding:

Ingham County: Lake Lansing Park North Boardwalk and Trail, $500,000
Bay County: Pondside Park improvements, $375,000
Ionia County: Hale Park improvements, $382,000
Montcalm County: Fred Meijer Trail Hub Project, $465,400
Alpena County:  Duck Park Development of Pavilion and Restrooms, $150,000
Cass County: Dr. Lawless International Dark Sky Park renovation, $428,600
Marquette County, Michigamme Township Park dock access and tennis renovation, $183,200
Marquette County: Tourist Park day-use access road and parking area: $250,000
Kalamazoo County: Lexington Green Park Improvement project: $500,000
Ottawa County: Ottawa Sands day-use restroom: $242,900

What people are saying: “Access to the outdoors is vital to the quality of life for everyone who lives here or visits here,” says DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund, in addition to other important grant programs, broadens that access in meaningful ways, whether through expanded hiking trails, increased public water access, or better amenities like restroom renovations and welcoming pavilions at local parks. These grants are integral to connecting more people to our state’s uniquely Michigan outdoor experiences.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a shining example of what’s possible when federal, state and local government partners come together to deliver real benefits for Michigan residents and visitors,” Whitmer says.

Economic benefits of parks: Parks and recreation facilities are a big part of Michigan’s economy, generating value for surrounding communities, creating jobs and helping sustain small businesses. Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry supports billions in state Gross Domestic Product and sustains 126,000 jobs and over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries in the state. On average, every $1 invested in land conservation leads to $4 in economic benefit.
What’s next: Following federal appropriation, LWCF funds are apportioned to the states each fiscal year, and then, the state’s project recommendations are sent to the National Park Service for approval, a process that typically takes six months before release of funds.