The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that the first of 24 Recreation Passport Grant development projects – for which funding was awarded in November 2011 – has been successfully completed.

The $11,200 grant to Arcadia Township, which had a local match of $3,800, allowed the township to resurface its community tennis court and add universally accessible parking at Finch Park, a public outdoor space. Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Manistee County, Arcadia sees its population roughly double in the summer months as people from across the United States travel to vacation homes there.

“The Michigan Recreation Passport Grant enabled our Arcadia community to develop tennis facilities which will be used by area residents as well as the thousands of visitors who enjoy our community,” said Brad Hopwood, chair of the Arcadia Township Planning Commission and board member of the Manistee County Community Foundation. “And that grant also provided us with a point of departure for looking at how we can leverage our wonderful natural assets – such as our Lake Michigan beachfront, Arcadia Lake and Marsh, the dunes and our community center – as the economic force of the future of Arcadia Township.“

Hopwood said the township will seek further support through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and other sources in 2013 to build upon the important work that was made possible through the Michigan Recreation Passport Grant.

“In addition, we have formed a group consisting of local and regional partners to look more boldly at how Arcadia Township can harness the future of recreation and tourism to its fullest potential,” Hopwood said. “Our hats are off to the DNR and DNR staff for helping us look at our recreational assets as economic drivers for the future.”

The Recreation Passport Grant program began in 2011 and awarded $556,600 through 24 grants statewide in its first year. Projects range in scope and size from the replacement of playground equipment to the construction of restroom facilities. Grant money is only used for local development projects. The program is focused on renovating and improving existing parks, but the development of new parks is also eligible for consideration.

“These projects are beneficial to these communities, not only by enhancing the quality of life for citizens by providing more and better outdoor recreation facilities, but also by boosting local economies. These Recreation Passport Grants provide meaningful dollars that help create jobs and increase tourism,” said Steve DeBrabander, DNR Grants program manager.

Money for the Recreation Passport Grant fund is derived from the sale of the Recreation Passport, which in 2010 replaced the resident motor vehicle permit for state park entrance. The more Recreation Passports sold, the greater the amount of funding available for grants to local communities statewide. For more information on Recreation Passport Grants, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants.

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. By checking “YES” for the $10 Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate through the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at www.expresssos.com or at branch offices), Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, nonmotorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches. In addition, Recreation Passport holders can enjoy real savings at businesses and retailers that participate in the Passport Perks discount program. The Recreation Passport is valid until the next license plate renewal date. Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore.

Learn more about this creative way of sustaining Michigan’s outdoor recreation and natural resources at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport. For information on Passport Perks shopping discounts or how businesses and retailers can enroll in the program, visit www.michigan.gov/passportperks.

Image courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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