(WXYZ) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a historic $150 million investment in community parks and recreation facilities.
The investment consists of federal dollars from President Biden's American Rescue Plan to address critical needs in local park systems.
Whitmer said the investment will create good-paying, blue collar jobs across the state. It would be administered as a grant program by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and would support the economies, health and recovery of communities across the state.
Last month, Whitmer announced a similar proposal to invest $250 million of American Rescue Plan funding in parks and trails managed by the State of Michigan.
“These two new investment programs, totaling $400 million, mark a once-in-a-generation chance to improve quality of life for our residents, support local economies and bring people back to Michigan as the state continues its recovery from the effects of the pandemic,” Whitmer said. “These investments will ensure our children and grandchildren continue to enjoy the rejuvenating benefits of natural beauty and outdoor spaces so prized by Michiganders. I look forward to working with the Legislature to secure this investment for our communities.”
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. The state says that on average, every $1 invested in land conservation leads to $4 in economic benefit.
One measure of recreational needs in local communities is the number of grant requests received each year by the DNR that go unfunded. Over the last five years, the average of development grant applications to the DNR for three primary grant programs – the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Recreation Passport Grants and Land and Water Conservation Fund – has approached $40 million annually. Nearly $20 million of those annual requests could not be met because of lack of available funding.