Grants available to enhance local parks and recreation areas

The DNR has grant money available to help make your community recreation offerings better.

Many people agree that Michigan is one of the most naturally beautiful places to live or visit. With an abundant amount of natural resources and breathtaking scenery, it is no surprise that tourism is an industry leader for Michigan. But what can communities do to help boost their economy and their parks and recreation area? These improvements also are an excellent way to enhance a community’s placemaking effort which in turn can be used to attract full-time residents.

A few local communities in Northern Michigan will be seeing improvements in their parks, beaches and trailways, thanks to grants provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). City of Charlevoix, Helena Township in Antrim County, Emmet County and the largest recipient of the group going to the Village of Wolverine in Cheboygan County. The projects are funded through two different grants; Recreation Passport Program and Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Project.

The purpose of the Recreation Passport Program is to get more people outside more often, enjoying the many natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities available in Michigan. Samples of other funded projects around Michigan include: renovation of pedestrian trails, way-finding signage, upgrades on public restrooms, and resurfacing of basketball/tennis courts.

The Recreation Passport Program is funding the projects in the City of Charlevoix and Helena Township (Antrim County). The City of Charlevoix is receiving $45,000 to develop a new accessible playground at Michigan Beach Park. Helena Township is receiving $29,000 for repairs and resurfacing of two tennis courts located in the Village of Alden, as well as an ADA-approved walkway from sidewalks to the courts allowing handicap accessibility.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Project is funding the projects in Emmet County and the Village of Wolverine. Emmet County’s Camp Petosega is receiving $49,000 to provide access to all users from the existing parking lot and sidewalk to the water and onto a dock. They will be also extending the dock about 200 feet to for boats to be able to access the park.

The Village of Wolverine received the largest funding of the projects, $289,500. Their project involves the renovation and improvement to Lumberman Park and Trailhead. The project will enhance the trailhead on the North Central State Trail. It will also bring renovations to Lumberman Park, bringing modern and more accessible features. They plan to create a modern toilet and shower building, dump station, trail connections and signs, accessible fishing pier and a looped walking trail with a pedestrian bridge over the Sturgeon River.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund  is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisitions of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly-owned minerals. Samples of other 2014 funded projects include restroom facility improvements, pathways, park benches, accessible canoe/kayak launch and modernization of the Ralph A. MacMullan DNR Training Center.

Michigan State University Extension has a strong focus on helping people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. For more than 100 years, MSU Extension has helped grow Michigan’s economy by equipping Michigan residents with the information that they need to do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower our children to dream of a successful future. This includes partnering with groups such as Northern Lakes Economic Alliance.

Both of these grants, Recreation Passport Program and Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund are now accepting applications for 2015. If you or your community is interested in learning more, simply click on their links or contact Northern Lakes Economic Alliance at 231-582-6482. The deadline to apply is fast approaching, April 2015.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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