DNR Starts First Round of State Park Infrastructure Projects, Includes Cheboygan, Mackinac County

The Department of Natural Resources is starting the first round of ARPA-funded state park infrastructure projects in 10 counties, which includes Cheboygan and Mackinac County.

The projects include things like lodge renovations, upgraded electrical and water distribution systems, preservation of historic structures and stabilization of riverbanks for trail resurfacing. Although not glamourous, these are the most ready projects that the DNR has discovered from the list of critical needs in Michigan state parks. Overall, the total amount of funding for all the projects was $15,962,000.

This round of projects includes giving $750,000 to Cheboygan County to upgrade electrical and water distribution systems in Cheboygan State Park. This includes replacing the below-ground water mains and electrical conduit, meters and distribution panels, along with upgraded jug fillers and electrical pedestals. An additional $2 million is proposed in later phases for additional investments in the sewer systems.

Mackinac County has been awarded $2 million to replace the two upper campground toilet and shower buildings in the Straits State Park. This will mirror finish details from newly constructed buildings in the park’s lower campground.

The other counties included in the first round of the projects were Bay, Delta, Iosco, Monroe, Ontonagon, Saginaw, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties.

This funding comes from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan, which was a $4.8 billion infrastructure package signed in March, which included $250 million to help address the repair and maintenance needs at state parks. The funding stemmed from the federal relief program, the American Rescue Plan.

“Michigan’s state parks are beloved, defining features of our beautiful state and because of the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan I signed earlier this year, we are investing resources to show our parks some well-deserved love and much-needed TLC,” said Gov. Whitmer. “State parks support tens of thousands of jobs and countless local economies, empowering tourism and recreation small businesses across the state. Together, let’s keep improving them by addressing operational and infrastructure needs and ensure Michiganders have stunning public parks to enjoy for generations to come.”

The requirements for the federal funding say that ARPA funds must be committed to a project by December 31, 2024 and spent on that project by December 31, 2026.

Ron Olson, Chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said the DNR expects to announce selected Phase 2 projects in the coming months.

“Michigan’s state parks and recreation system has experienced a 30% increase in visitation over the past two years, while at the same time dealing with more than 20 years’ worth of critical infrastructure needs,” Olson said. “There’s no question this is a historic investment. It will enable us to rehabilitate numerous infrastructure assets in state parks and along the state’s paved and natural surface trail system, and help the DNR better position our facilities to accommodate current and future recreation trends and welcome new generations of parkgoers.”

To stay up to date on these projects and learn more about the funding and decision-making, click here.