Saginaw, Bay County Included in DNR’s First Round of ARPA-Funded State Park Projects

Bay City State Park and Saginaw County’s new Saginaw River Headwaters Recreation Area are among park projects in ten counties receiving American Rescue Plan Act funds. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given the green light, along with $15,962,000, to park projects identified among its list of critical needs in Michigan State Parks.

Bay City State Park will receive $1.5 million to refresh and renovate the interior and exterior of the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center. Renovations include the reception area, exhibit hall, roof and siding, and the addition of a new science lab. General improvements include enhancements to make the park more accessible for all visitors.

The new state-county park in Saginaw (Saginaw River Headwaters Recreation Area) will get $867,000 to construct parking areas and a park entrance. The new state park is nearing completion on the the former General Motors Malleable Iron site and nearby landfill on the Saginaw River. The project will include new concrete bumpers, solar lighting, parking gates that meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, fencing and signage. The park will be jointly managed by the DNR and Saginaw County. The project is considered one of the final steps in establishing this new state park, which was originally supported with two grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Tawas Point State Park in Iosco County will also receive $455,500 to repair water-damaged brick on the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse. The work will be completed by professionals specializing in historic architecture for maritime buildings.

Tawas Point State Park (source: Michigan DNR)

“Michigan’s state parks are beloved, defining features of our beautiful state and because of the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan I signed earlier this year, we are investing resources to show our parks some well-deserved love and much-needed TLC,” said Gov. Whitmer. “State parks support tens of thousands of jobs and countless local economies, empowering tourism and recreation small businesses across the state. Together, let’s keep improving them by addressing operational and infrastructure needs and ensure Michiganders have stunning public parks to enjoy for generations to come.”

DNR Director Dan Eichinger said this first phase of funding is part of a thoughtful, deliberate evaluation of needed projects at Michigan state parks.

“For more than 100 years, state parks have anchored communities and provided safe, clean spaces for people to connect with nature and historical resources and enjoy the outdoors. During the COVID pandemic our parks welcomed people in record numbers,” Eichinger said. “We are grateful and gratified to launch this first phase of critical maintenance, repair and upgrade work, knowing that every project will help us deliver even better visitor experiences and outdoor recreation opportunities for visitors of all ages and abilities.”

Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said the first batch of projects is out for design and bid, and the DNR expects to announce selected Phase 2 projects in the coming months.

“Michigan’s state parks and recreation system has experienced a 30% increase in visitation over the past two years, while at the same time dealing with more than 20 years’ worth of critical infrastructure needs,” Olson said. “There’s no question this is a historic investment. It will enable us to rehabilitate numerous infrastructure assets in state parks and along the state’s paved and natural surface trail system, and help the DNR better position our facilities to accommodate current and future recreation trends and welcome new generations of parkgoers.”

To help the public stay up to date on these projects and learn more about the funding and decision-making, the DNR has created a website at