Michigan National Guard helps improve state parks

(Michigan Department of Natural Resources photo) A Michigan Army National Guard crew uses heavy equipment to clear trees and smooth a road surface along the shoreline of Silver Lake in Marquette County.

MARQUETTE — The 107th Engineer Battalion of the Michigan Army National Guard is joining forces with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to improve state parks.

This initiative, which began this spring, will elevate the quality of state park facilities and enhance the mission readiness of the Guard as part of the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program.

In the serene landscapes of the Upper Peninsula, engineer soldiers will lend their expertise to construct and repair infrastructure at Craig Lake State Park in Baraga and Marquette counties.

The 1430th Engineer Company soldiers will undertake construction projects at Wilderness State Park near Carp Lake in the northern Lower Peninsula. Four of these projects will enhance camping accessibility for visitors with disabilities, aligning with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s park improvement initiative.

“The collaboration between the MIARNG and the DNR is a significant step towards enhancing our state parks and facilities so that all Michiganders are able to enjoy the beauty of our great state,” said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the adjutant general for the Michigan National Guard.

The soldiers of the 1430th Engineer Company, with expertise in carpentry, masonry, electrical work and plumbing, will repair rustic cabins, update park infrastructure, and pave the way for the installation of the DNR Gaylord District’s inaugural Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant playground.

Rogers said the projects would repair state park infrastructure and enable soldiers “to enhance and maintain their skills and proficiency, ensuring our readiness for any mission.”

The Michigan National Guard has collaborated with the DNR for more than two decades. As of 2023, the 107th Engineer Battalion IRT initiative has saved the state of Michigan an estimated $1.8 million in labor costs.

The commitment extends westward as the 1432nd Engineer Company, stationed in Kingsford and Gladstone, joins the partnership. Their mission is to assist the Western U.P. District of the DNR with a range of improvement projects. These include restoring historic cabins at Craig Lake, a park favorite since 1954, and rehabilitating parking areas at locations across Marquette and Baraga counties.

The scope of work spans six boating access sites between Negaunee and Champion to enhance access roads leading to Craig Lake State Park and Van Riper State Park.

“The DNR Parks and Recreation Division is excited to continue our successful partnership with the Michigan National Guard to improve state parks, trails and boating access sites,” said Ron Olson, chief of Parks and Recreation for the Michigan DNR. “This collaboration has helped usher along much-needed enhancements while providing valuable training for the MIARNG.”

Maj. Matthew Brolsma, commander of the 107th Engineer Battalion, said the collaboration in Michigan “refined our team’s critical skills required for engineer mission accomplishment across Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as for future operations.”


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