11 counties receive $7.4M grant for park upgrades

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Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 1:51 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) – Several counties throughout the state will be awarded grant money to make park upgrades.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced a combined $7.4 million Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants will be awarded to 13 recommended community parks, trails, and sports facilities, along with a state lock and dam.

The projects recommended for funding are in Alpena, Bay, Cass, Cheboygan, Ionia, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Livingston, Marquette, Montcalm, and Ottawa counties. The funding is intended for boardwalk, trail and park renovations and improvements, park pavilion and restroom development, lock and dam public water access, and more.

The selected projects were chosen from a field of 18 grant applications, seeking $8.6 million in funding.

Counties for park investment
Counties for park investment(State of MI)

“Today’s $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,” Whitmer said.

Parks and recreation facilities contribute to a large portion of Michigan’s economy. They generate value for surrounding communities, create jobs, and help sustain small businesses, the state said. Outdoor recreation also sustains 126,000 jobs and more than $4.7 billion in wages and salaries.

“Access to the outdoors is vital to the quality of life for everyone who lives here or visits here,” DNR Director Dan Eichinger said.

The DNR uses money from the LWCF to develop recreation facilities to give the communities better and more broad access to quality recreation opportunities. The Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law in August 2020, established permanent funding for the LWCF.

Those who want to apply for and are eligible for LWCF grants include any unit of government, like Native American tribes, school districts, or any combination of units with the legal authority to provide recreation.

Applicants can seek funding for projects like the development of and improvements to playgrounds, trails and walkways, skate parks, boat launches, picnic areas, sports fields, and campgrounds. This also includes improved access for users of all abilities beyond Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

Application information and materials for LWCF grants will be available in early 2023 online. They are due April 1 for the 2023 funding cycle.