DNR approves nearly $4 million in grants for recreational boating improvements and development

Contact: Vicki McGhee, 517-388-5341
Agency: Natural Resources

June 29, 2021

boating access site featuring a dock into the waterThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that more than $4 million in grant funding will be awarded to 23 communities throughout the state to boost recreational boating.


The funding is made possible through the DNR Parks and Recreation Division's waterways grant program, which began in 1949 with the goal of expanding the harbor system along the Great Lakes and boating access sites throughout the state. Today, the system includes more than 1,300 state-sponsored boating access sites, 19 state-managed harbors and 63 local state-sponsored harbors of refuge along the Great Lakes.

"Water and boating are at the heart of Michigan," said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. "We have residents who live on the water, those who travel all over the state to boat and visitors who come here from around the world because it's the Great Lakes State. Michigan offers outdoor recreational opportunities and picturesque views not found anywhere else, and so it's of utmost importance that the DNR helps invest and fund Michigan's harbors and boating access sites for the benefit of all."

Local units of government and state colleges and universities are eligible to apply for grant assistance for recreational boating improvements and development at grant-in-aid harbors and public boating access sites. The grant-in-aid program provides matching funding to help support quality recreational boating infrastructure. Communities are asked to match 50% of required funds.

In 2020, when lake levels were at record highs, many facilities had emergency needs. As a result, the waterways grant program was strongly focused on assisting communities that had emergency infrastructure needs. Fortunately, this year with lake levels receding, the grants have been able to focus on more typical infrastructure improvements, such as engineering studies, design and infrastructure improvements.

This year, projects in Alger, Alpena, Baraga, Berrien, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Dickinson, Emmet, Houghton, Huron, Leelanau, Manistee, Marquette, Mason and Wayne counties were approved for projects that include emergency seawall replacement, skid pier replacement and overall marina improvements.

View a full list and descriptions of this year's Waterways Program Grant awards.

The grants are funded through the Michigan State Waterways Fund, a restricted fund derived primarily from boat registration fees and a portion of Michigan's gas tax that supports the construction, operation and maintenance of public recreational boating facilities.

The application period for the next round of Waterways grant funding are due Friday, April 1, 2022.

Learn more about the grant program and application materials at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.


/Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

BAS - Twenty-two communities in 15 counties were awarded nearly $4 million to help boost recreational boating in Michigan. The state is home to 1,300-plus state-sponsored boating access sites that provide access to recreational boating, fishing and more.