Gov.'s $250 million park investment the 'booster shot' we need
On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a massive, $250 million investment in state parks and outdoor recreation across Michigan.
The budget proposal would direct funds to eliminate the massive backlog in state parks maintenance as more people than ever use them. The investment, in turn, would:
- Strengthen Michigan's outdoor recreation economy, which provides 232,000 jobs across the state;
- Help millions of residents and tourists alike make the most of the outdoors; and
- Free up state funds (some of which regularly went toward state park maintenance) for local communities and organizations to invest in their own park projects
The Michigan Environmental Council will educate and advocate to see Gov. Whitmer's $250 million included in the state budget.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw more people immerse themselves in nature than ever before," said Conan Smith, MEC President & CEO. "It's made our $26.6 billion outdoor recreation economy even stronger, our state park system even more beloved and our state a premiere place to go outdoors. Gov. Whitmer's investment will give both the economy and our parks the booster shots they need to meet demand and grow it by giving people the amenities they need to have fun."
"Talk to just about any Michigan resident about nature, and they'll say they love to be in it," said Sandra Turner-Handy, MEC engagement director. "But nearly 35% don't end up doing so. To make our Pure Michigan motto hold true, our parks and their amenities must be kept pristine; made available and accessible in all communities; and be welcoming to all families, children and residents. Gov. Whitmer's park investment will help get us there.
MEC's work to see the funding through will build on recent conservation wins:
- The advocacy for and creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry. Brad Garmon, MEC's former director of conservation and emerging issues, became the office's first director in 2019.
- The passage of Proposal 1, which would fund parks across the state in perpetuity through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. MEC's 501(c)4, the Sustainable Michigan Fund, co-led Prop 1's campaign.
Written by Beau Brockett Jr.