Michigan is well known for unique Great Lakes geography and the abundance of outdoor activities that come with being encircled by such a large expanse of fresh water. This November, Gov. Rick Snyder has been reviewing a report aimed at diversifying and expanding Michigan’s “trails, outdoor adventure sports, nature observation, eco-tourism, motorized and non-motorized water sports, cultural events and festivals.” The expansion of environmental and seasonal tourism is fairly inexpensive to advocate and will improve Michigan’s economy. Our state should capitalize on its natural resources and existing parks and trails to promote and further reap the benefits of Michigan’s tourism industry.

In light of the new report, Michigan’s land trails — which are necessary for transporting non-motorized water vehicles — could be expanded to become the most extensive trails in the country. While Michigan already boasts many miles of trails for transporting non-motorized boats, the expansion could make Michigan a top tourist destination for many who spend the summer months specifically seeking these tracks and extensive parks.Tourists who travel the country for safe and easy canoeing and kayaking destinations would have a special interest in Michigan. In this way, the proposed report outlines an underdeveloped market. With new tourists coming for the boating and trails in Michigan, profits would stay local.

Furthermore, the proposed funding for the growth of the state parks in the report has the possibility to revitalize big cities like Detroit. With the creation of four to five new “signature” parks, cities around the state would have focal points and must-see destinations, further helping to bring in more tourism. The report uses Chicago’s Millennium Park and Providence, Rhode Island’s WaterFire Park as examples for similar urban expansion and economic opportunity to mimic in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan. With special tourist destinations that offer family fun and a unique experience, these sites could bring much needed business traffic to Michigan’s cities.

Since parks, trails and other nature observation sites are permanent fixtures in the Michigan landscape, they present a perfect opportunity for long-lasting economic prosperity. The Pure Michigan advertising campaign has already been successful in bringing in $605 million for the state since its inception in 2006. With the suggested improvements, Pure Michigan would have even more to advertise about despite its budget cuts. The profit can only continue to grow as Michigan expands its parks and recreational areas.

This proposal helps Michigan’s economy and preserves the state’s natural resources and beauty. By expanding upon parks and natural areas, the project preserves habitats for Michigan’s extensive biodiversity. More specifically, preserved land means cleaner water and a healthier environment for Michigan’s residents and the entire Great Lakes region. The proposal should pass to promote the environment and this under-developed market.

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