A program that started 10 years ago with the goal of boosting visitation and funding for Michigan state parks also has created another important benefit: more funding for local, community parks and trails enhancement throughout the state. Today the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that 18 communities will share $1,926,000 for projects including trailhead development in Marquette County, recreation center renovation in Oakland County and park improvements in Crawford County.
The DNR introduced the Recreation Passport in 2010, replacing the traditional window sticker system for state park access with a purchase program tied to the renewal of license plate registrations. Support for the Recreation Passport has steadily grown since the program’s start – more than a third of Michigan registered vehicles now have the Recreation Passport on their license plate tabs – and that means more available funding for grants. With the announcement of this year’s recipients, the Recreation Passport grant program (established by Public Act 35 of 2010) has awarded just over $12.7 million statewide.
View a full list and descriptions of this year’s Recreation Passport grant awards. Counties where funded grant projects have been approved include Alcona, Alpena, Barry, Chippewa, Clare, Crawford, Genesee, Isabella, Lapeer, Manistee, Marquette, Monroe, Montmorency, Oakland, Ogemaw, Osceola and Shiawassee.
Selected projects were scored and selected from a field of 59 grant applications seeking $6.5 million in local funding. Successful applicants clearly demonstrated projects designed to broaden public access to quality outdoor recreation opportunities.
“Recreation Passport grants help communities of all sizes bring more and better recreation opportunities to residents of all abilities, and those types of amenities make communities stronger,” said Christie Bayus, Recreation Passport grant program manager. “During this time, having a fun, safe place to enjoy the outdoors is more important than ever, and these grants make projects to achieve that possible.”
Funding for this program is derived from sales of Michigan’s Recreation Passport, required for vehicle entry into Michigan’s 103 state parks, 140 state forest campgrounds, hundreds of miles of state trails, historic sites, hundreds of boating access sites and other outdoor spaces. With every sale of a Recreation Passport, 10% goes directly to the grant program.
“We’ve seen an upswing in the number of visitors coming out to use Michigan state parks, trails and other outdoor opportunities, as people look for COVID-safe ways to relax and get exercise,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “Those visitors represent a direct investment in state parks and local parks, because about $1 from every Recreation Passport purchased funds those local park and recreation grants.”
The application period for the next round of Recreation Passport grant funding opens in January, with applications due April 1. Learn more about the program and application materials at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.