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E-M:/ DNR Receives $3 Million in Grants from Kellogg Foundation to Provide Universal Access to Recreation



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Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2006

CONTACT: Ron Olson 517-335-4827 or 	Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014

DNR Receives $3 Million in Grants from Kellogg Foundation
to Provide Universal Access to Recreation 

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today announced that a $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will enhance access for disabled persons to state parks and recreation areas. A portion of the grant also will be used to provide local communities that apply for DNR-administered grant programs with additional funding for accessibility improvements.
 
"Making sure all Michigan citizens and visitors have access to our state parks and recreation areas * some of our most treasured places * enhances our quality of life and helps the economy by boosting tourism," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "I commend the Kellogg Foundation and the Council of Michigan Foundations for making this important investment in our state's recreation system."

"This is a phenomenal partnership to help us remove barriers and bring more Michigan citizens and visitors into the great outdoors," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "We are very pleased to be working with the Kellogg Foundation, the Council of Michigan Foundations, the Midwest Community Foundation Ventures and Michigan Parks and Recreation Association to help improve accessibility to Michigan state parks and recreation areas."

The DNR will use the funds to take accessibility features at state parks and recreation areas beyond the minimal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and provide more universally accessible development projects. The "Access to Recreation" projects will showcase the DNR as a national leader in making outdoor recreation more accessible to all, said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson.

"With more than 26 million individual visits to our state park and recreation area system in 2005, these funds will make an enormous impact on our ability to raise the bar for accessibility," Olson 
said. "The parks and recreation areas that we are targeting for enhanced accessibility are within easy driving distance for most Michigan residents."

The funds include $1 million that the DNR will use help local communities leverage more dollars from the DNR-administered grant programs for projects that contain accessibility features or improvements. The funding will target the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant program, but also could be used for a number of grant programs.

"This opportunity will help the DNR connect people with places that millions of Michigan citizens and visitors cherish and value," said Olson. "Whether it is the towering pines of Hartwick Pines State Park, the beautiful waterfalls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park or the quiet of a fishing pier at Tri-Centennial State Park, more Michigan state parks will soon offer unique access opportunities."

Olson said 57 of Michigan's 97 state parks and recreation areas offer at least accessible outdoor recreational opportunity or experience. Of those, 13 state parks or recreation areas and five state park linear trails would require three or less recreational elements to be upgraded to become fully accessible. An additional 13 locations would require five or less upgrades to be fully accessible, he added.
 
Olson said the Bay City State Recreation Area is a prime example of how accessibility features have improved to allow more visitors to enjoy the recreational opportunities there, ranging from paved nature trails, accessible fishing piers and a fully accessible three-acre playground. He noted other accessible features at other state parks and recreation areas include Kitch-iti-kipi, or The Big Spring, at Palms Book State Park in Schoolcraft County which features a fully-accessible parking area and observation raft for visitors to use to observe the state's largest freshwater spring.
 
The DNR will begin an assessment of accessibility features at state parks and recreation areas, Olson said. After the assessment, specific locations will be chosen to showcase accessibility features that go beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
 
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.

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