Residents of northwest Lower Michigan spend a lot of time outdoors. The State of Michigan recently decided to spend a lot of money to improve our region’s outdoor recreation facilities.

The investments will improve the local infrastructure. Each of the recent funding announcements is great news.

Four area projects received government funds in just the last few weeks.

  • State officials agreed to spend $1.5 million for land adjacent to the boat ramp near where the Torch River flows out of Torch Lake. The purchase will allow the parking lot to be expanded.
  • A Michigan Department of Natural Resources Passport grant for $150,000 will help improve a deteriorated 1.5-mile unpaved section of the Betsie Valley Trail that runs alongside Crystal Avenue in Beulah.
  • Acme Township received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to help pay for the first segment of the planned Acme-to-Charlevoix Trail. Nearly 2 miles of trail will be built in 2021 to connect an existing TART Trail to both the Meijer store on M-72 and Acme Bayside Park on U.S. 31 North.
  • The Michigan Strategic Fund board approved $3.47 million for Kalkaska’s Railroad Square development. The money comes from the Community Development Block Grant program, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The federal money, combined with local funding, will help overhaul a largely vacant stretch of land in the middle of Kalkaska by creating a green space with several public amenities.

The injections of funding from state and federal coffers will create or upgrade recreational infrastructure across a wide swath of the Grand Traverse region.

Improved parking for trailers at the south end of Torch Lake will help ease an access bottleneck on one of the state’s most popular boating lakes.

Village of Kalkaska officials hope their Railroad Square project will serve as a catalyst for continued downtown economic growth.

Restoring the surface of the section of the Betsie Valley Trail that parallels the shore of Crystal Lake will help keep bicyclists on the trail and off the nearby road, which should make the route safer for everyone.

The Acme-to-Charlevoix Trail, when complete, will link the TART Trail system to the Little Traverse Wheelway, allowing bicyclists to pedal between Suttons Bay and Harbor Springs on a dedicated pathway.

These infrastructure improvements will make the region more attractive to visitors. They’ll improve safety for bicyclists. They’ll help keep northwest Lower Michigan a shining recreational star for visitors and residents alike.

Governmental investment in these projects will further boost to the area’s rising national profile, and will help keep the Grand Traverse region on a path toward economic expansion. That growth is a positive — both for the region and for the state as a whole.