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Whitmer signs bill for $37.8 million worth of park expansion and improvement projects

11 projects are planned in Mid-Michigan, including several new or extended trails
The iconic Iron Belle Trail – extending more than 2,000 miles, touching hundreds of...
The iconic Iron Belle Trail – extending more than 2,000 miles, touching hundreds of municipalities and crossing through 48 Michigan counties from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit – is a big part of what makes Michigan famous for being “The Trails State.” Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund played a large role in bringing this extensive trail network, which features a bicycling and a hiking route, to fruition.(Dakota Hewlett | Michigan DNR)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 2:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Thursday allowing for nearly $38 million in spending on park expansion and improvement projects around Michigan.

The annual bill allocates money from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for parks and recreation projects statewide. The trust fund is comprised of revenue from state oil and gas production leases and must be spend on public recreation under the Michigan Constitution.

The 2020 spending program provides money for 76 projects across the state -- $27.3 million on 30 projects to acquire land to expand parks and $10.5 million on 46 park or recreation improvement projects. Most of the projects require matching funds from the community requesting grants.

The most expensive project involves purchasing the 210 acres of the Muskegon Sands property in southern Muskegon County for $5 million. The land includes over 1,600 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, nearly 20,000 feet of shoreline around two inland lakes and several acres of critical dune land.

The largest project involves acquiring 4,000 acres of unique forest and deer habitat in the Gogebic County Forest in the western Upper Peninsula for nearly $3.2 million. The 50,000-acre county forest supports the community with lumbering and habitat for deer or other wildlife.

Mid-Michigan projects included in the funding include:

  • $967,300 to acquire 152.4 acres of land next to an existing park in Midland County’s Larkin Township. About 72.4 acres of woodland and open space on the west side of the property will be developed with a playground, pavilion, athletic fields and parking. The remaining 80 acres on the east side will receive trails with interpretive signs.
  • $300,000 for a 2.28-mile extension of the Iron Belle Trail in Genesee County’s Atlas and Grand Blanc townships. The trail will run along the south side of Perry Road to Atlas County Park, connecting a gap in the Iron Belle Trail.
  • $300,000 to upgrade Millpond Park and the Shiawassee Riverwalk in Fenton with a kayak launch, a kayak storage facility, wayfinding signs, benches, a new playground, landscaping and wellness stations. A new 400-foot path will be added along the Shiawassee River from Caroline Street to Silver Lake Road, which will connect to the Linden-Argentine-Fenton-Fenton Township Trailway.
  • $300,000 to construct the Silver Lake Road Connector Trail through Linden, Fenton and Fenton Township between Triangle Park in Linden and Silver Lake Park in Fenton. The trail will include observation areas of Silver Lake, marshy wetlands and prairies.
  • $300,000 for 2 miles of trail running all the way through Swartz Creek from and connecting with the Genesee Valley Trail. The project will connect Swartz Creek to Flint Township and the city of Flint, which connects to the Iron Belle Trail.
  • $300,000 to extend the Saginaw Riverwalk and Iron Belle Trail through Wickes Park in Saginaw. The existing riverwalk, which is part of the statewide trail system, ends on the north end of Wickes Park. The park driveway will be changed to accommodate the trail and lighting will be added.
  • $300,000 for phase III of the Iosco Exploration Trail in Oscoda Township. The three-mile trail extension will run west from Oscoda High School. It is part of the Iron Belle Trail system running from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.
  • $250,100 to acquire seven acres of land on Stanley Road in Lapeer County’s Oregon Township with 1,000 feet of frontage on a tributary in Holloway Reservoir. The land connects to existing Genesee County parks.
  • $217,000 to improvements to Lighthouse County Park in Huron County, which is located near the Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse on Lake Huron. The project includes replacement of the fish cleaning station, rebuilding a woodland path, replacing an outdated playground, adding barrier-free parking, installing interpretive signs and adding benches.
  • $96,600 to acquire 1.8 acres of land on the Sebewaing River in Sebewaing to provide an access point for the Saginaw Bay Water Trail, along with picnic and fishing facilities.
  • $23,100 to acquire 4 acres from two landowners to expand Maple Grove Township Park in Saginaw County .

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