Whitmer commits $3 million to build a 1,200-acre park in Baraga County

Lansing, Michigan (WLUC) – Outdoor recreation is a hobby that many in Michigan can afford to miss.

New government funding may help boost the quality of outdoor fun, especially for those on the Upper Peninsula. On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved $45.6 million for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust.

Municipalities and groups across the state can apply to the state Natural Resources Trust Board for portions of these funds. Applications must be approved by the board of directors, the state legislature, and the governor. If so, these groups could use those dollars to improve outdoor recreation areas or acquire land to create new ones.

“This is the last step,” said John Pippen, Michigan’s deputy information officer. “The money will go ahead and work on these projects can start to happen.”

The most expensive upgrade in the province of Paraga. The county is set to acquire a large tract of land along the northern branch of the Sturgeon River. Pippin said this would help protect the species of wolves, moose, turtles and frogs that live in the area. Pepin added that this land will also be converted into an outdoor entertainment site with a variety of different options for visitors.

“It’s a roughly $3 million acquisition of 1,200 acres that will be set aside for recreation,” Pippen said. “This includes fishing, hunting, canoeing and similar activities.”

The Baraga County Land Acquisition Project is one of 11 projects to upgrade UP’s outdoor recreation funded by the Trust. Another location is located in Marquette County. Here, the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority received $218,200 to build a natural corridor in Negaunee.

“We are the only Marquette County project to have received funds from the trusts this year,” said Carol Fulcher, director of the Iron Ore Recreational Heritage Authority. “This grant allows us to build a boardwalk in Negaunee City that goes into the swampy area.”

Fulcher added that this new addition to the Negaunee will be great for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians alike.

“It gets people off the main track into a swamp where we have a lot of birds and amphibians,” Fulcher explained. “It will provide a destination for people in Negaunee who just want to go for a walk and enjoy nature.”

Another Trust-funded upgrade is an improvement to Douglass Houghton Falls. A 110-foot waterfall in Houghton County purchased by DNR from a private seller in 2018.

“He was previously on private land until DNR purchased the property a few years ago,” Pepin noted. “At that time we did not have the funds to develop the site to provide a public and safe view of the falls. This grant will help us be able to do that.”

Improvements will also be made to pedestrian bridges and trails in the Piers Gorge recreation area in Dickinson County. Pepin noted that these upgrades will make it safer for white water rafting at the park.

“These improvements will make places available to make it safer for people to exit the river after white water rafting,” Pepin explained.

In December, another list of recommended projects will be reviewed by the Natural Resources Trust Board and the state legislature. The governor will then decide again whether or not to fund certain outdoor recreational improvements or acquisitions next year.

For a complete list of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund recipients for 2022, visit the Michigan DNR website by clicking here.

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