Michigan’s outdoor recreation landscape is witnessing an exciting transformation. Several state park upgrades, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), have reached completion, marking a significant milestone in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan.
This progress is set to peak in September with the anticipated completion of projects at the famed Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, known as “the Porkies.”
Governor Whitmer’s plan, signed into law in March 2022, channels nearly $5 billion into Michigan’s infrastructure to stimulate economic growth, job creation, and improved living conditions for families across every region of the state.
With $250 million earmarked specifically for state parks and trails, these efforts are a testament to the state’s commitment to enhancing its outdoor recreation offerings.
According to Ron Olson, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation division, this influx of federal funds translates into tangible benefits for visitors.
“These federal funds will allow us to deliver better, safer and more inviting visitor experiences and make serious investments in infrastructure,” he said.
Among the state parks already reveling in the fruits of these federal funds, Interlochen and Hoffmaster State Parks have debuted several key enhancements.
Interlochen, backed by a proposed $3.5 million of ARPA funding, has upgraded its electrical system and added new pedestals to each campsite in the south campground.
Hoffmaster State Park, now boasting improved roads, parking lots, and a partially completed bike path, utilized $6.4 million from the ARPA funding for its first phase of improvements.
Further north, Mitchell State Park opened its gates with a fresh look, showcasing revamped roads, accessible sites, parking lots, and ten new water jug fillers.
This rejuvenation project was powered by a proposed $2.2 million in federal relief funding.
Meanwhile, Hartwick Pines State Park has rolled out roof replacements and is set to undergo electrical system upgrades, thanks to a proposed $4.1 million in ARPA funds.
But perhaps the most eagerly anticipated completion is on the horizon at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This well-loved destination is poised for a late-September unveiling of several improvements, including updates to the visitor center, headquarters building, and park road. Additional plans for the Summit Peak parking lot and various electrical upgrades signal a continued commitment to enhancing the park in the future.
These initial completions of ARPA-funded projects indicate promising progress for Michigan’s state parks.
They serve as a beacon of the state’s commitment to outdoor recreation and a catalyst for sustainable economic growth, further cementing Michigan’s reputation as a premier destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts.
The journey doesn’t end here, though. With projects at the Porkies and other state parks nearing completion, a brighter future is on the horizon for Michigan’s outdoor recreation landscape.