Whitmer Announces $250 Million Investment In Michigan State Parks
We have some truly incredible state parks here in Michigan, ones that need to be protected, kept up and enjoyed by the masses. This "historic" investment can help ensure our parks stay beautiful and help them remain a crown jewel of Michigan's tourism industry.
When Governor Gretchen Whitmer shared the good news, she definitely did it in style, with the Mackinac Bridge behind her!
According to WILX "Big Gretch" was in St. Ignace, on the city's 350th birthday, at Straits State Park when she announced that $250 million would be invested "so that public spaces across Michigan become a more attractive destination for tourism and position the state as a recreation leader."
American Rescue Plan
Whenever the state makes a move that needs that much money behind it, naturally, people want to know where that came from.
Enter, money from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, our public spaces provided safe opportunities for residents to recreate and spend time with family and friends," the State Budget Office (SBO), in a document highlighting details of the announcement, said. "In 2020, state parks and recreation areas hosted over 35 million visitors – a 30% increase in visits."
Our state parks were there for us when other people and places couldn't and they are a major source of economic opportunity here in Michigan which is why they felt it necessary to use this money to address what SBO reports is an over $250 million "backlog" in maintenance for the parks.
How The Money Will Be Used
"Investments in our public spaces make Michigan a more competitive and attractive destination for tourism, position us as a recreation leader, and are critical components of our seasonal and rural economies," said Whitmer. "This is a valuable use of our federal funds to help the communities who rely on tourism rebound from the public health crisis."
Specifically, the SBO reports that for every $1 that's invested in land conservation, on average, returns $4 in economic benefits. Apply that to 103 state parks and recreation areas, as well as acres upon acres and miles upon miles of land for public use, boating, etc.
That alone shows why that $250 million will absolutely go a long way in ensuring our parks but WILX reports Clay Summers, Executive Director of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association says "This is a huge win for all Michigan residents and will provide safe, accessible and inclusive park systems for all."
Summers also elaborated, saying fulfilling needs at State Parks means more, smaller, local park systems can become more of a priority when it comes to funding through grants and other sources.
Why This All Matters
Keeping Michigan...well, Michigan should matter to all Michiganders.
Having a gorgeous state with wonderful State Parks is part of what makes Michigan and experiencing Michigan so "Pure" in itself but also, having these parks be an attractive, enticing reason for tourists to come.
As WILX put it, while we may not realize it, tourism generates a lot of revenue and value for the communities around tourist destinations which creates jobs and also sustains small businesses in the area.
"Parks bring us together, Gov. Whitmer said. "They are equally beloved by all Michiganders, regardless of geography or income, race or class or politics."
Leslie Knope would be proud.
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