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Each year Michigan’s national parks draw millions of visitors. From Sleeping Bear Dunes to Pictured Rocks and Isle Royale our state’s national parks offer unique opportunities for those who wish to camp, hike, fish, cycle, and recreate.

April 21-29 was National Park Week, which is a time to reflect on what national parks mean to our state. Besides recreation, Michigan’s national parks are huge economic drivers, generating $235 million of spending — much of it right here in northwest Michigan. Additionally, parks support 3,700 jobs across our state.

At the Empire Chamber of Commerce, we understand it is important to maintain historic and natural assets so that visitors to these places feel welcome. Unfortunately, Michigan’s five national parks sites need $52 million in maintenance toward dilapidated buildings, unsafe electric and water lines and crumbling interpretive signage. It’s something Congress needs to prioritize because the longer it takes, the costlier these repairs become.

National parks tell our nation’s story, provide a place for families and individuals to connect with the outdoors, and have the added benefit of boosting our local economies! That’s why we owe it to ourselves to keep them from disrepair.

Wayne Aylsworth

president

Empire Chamber

of Commerce

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