Progress in the parks

First ARPA-funded projects cross finish line; Porkies to be completed in Sept.

Michigan DNR

Press release

New and upgraded electrical systems, paved roads and parking lots, accessible sites and water jug fillers – these are just some of the amenities and conveniences visitors can enjoy now that planned improvement projects – made possible thanks to $250 million in federal relief funding – have been completed at several Michigan state parks.

The funding is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan (signed into law in March 2022), a bipartisan plan to invest nearly $5 billion in Michigan’s infrastructure, grow the economy, create jobs and benefit families in every region of the state.

The $250 million allotted for state parks and trails investment will help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources address a decades-long backlog of repair and maintenance needs and build a new state park in Flint. American Rescue Plan Act funds must be committed to projects by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

“These federal funds will allow us to deliver better, safer and more inviting visitor experiences and makes serious investments in infrastructure,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation chief. “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.”

“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.”

Completed projects include:

• Interlochen State Park (Grand Traverse County). Phase 1 work, completed in June, included replacement of the electrical system and addition of new pedestals in each campsite in the south campground. Future improvements will modernize the park’s day-use and restroom building, replace the sanitary lift station and enhance the underground water and sewer distribution system. These projects represent a proposed $3.5 million of ARPA-funded investment.

• Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County) is reopening its entire day-use area Friday, July 7. Visitors will find newly paved roads and parking lots, an improved beach road shoulder for pedestrian and bike traffic, the addition of speed bumps and two lanes for inbound traffic – one for those who already have the Recreation Passport for vehicle entry – and a partially completed bike path just inside the park entrance. With this first phase completed, the park’s modern campground is closing July 7 through the end of the 2023 camping season to upgrade water and sewer lines, reconstruct campground roads and complete the bike path. Renovations of the day-use toilet facility and Gillette Visitor Center are slated for 2024 or later. A proposed $6.4 million in ARPA funding is available for these projects.

• Mitchell State Park (Wexford County). The park opened June 30 with completely replaced, regraded and repaved campground roads, accessible sites and parking lots. In addition, 10 new jug fillers were replaced on accessible cement pads. (The toilet and shower building also was replaced, but the project was funded separately.) Renovations to the day-use toilet building are slated for later. A proposed $2.2 million in federal relief funding was made available for these projects. Watch this Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau video for project highlights.

• Hartwick Pines State Park (Crawford County). The park recently replaced the roof on the chapel and Hartwick Pines Logging Museum’s bunkhouse. Upgrades to the electrical system in the modern campground are expected to begin in October. The visitor center and Memorial Building will be renovated, and the construction timeline will be announced later. A proposed $4.1 million in federal relief funding was made available for these projects.

Other projects soon to wrap construction include:

• Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County). The visitor center, headquarters building and park road where both of these buildings sit are expected to reopen in late September. Other work, including the Summit Peak parking lot, is slated for late September. Ski hill, visitor center and campground electrical improvements are planned for the future.

• The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center (Bay County) in Bay City State Park is slated to reopen in September. The work entails substantial renovations to both the interior and exterior, including the reception area and exhibit hall, new roof and siding, and the addition of a new science lab. Additional park improvements – taking place in later phases – include circulation improvements in the day-use area and water, and sewer and electrical upgrades in the campground.

• Straits State Park’s (Mackinac County) upper campground is slated to reopen around July 20. The project includes two new toilet and shower buildings. The replacement of the sanitary lift station will come in a later phase.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today