Antrim County was recently announced as one of 31 communities selected to share $22 million in funding to support outdoor recreation projects in the State of Michigan. The $1 million Michigan Spark Grant secured by Antrim County will support the $1.4 million Phase 3 (Sedge Meadow) Boardwalk Reconstruction project at the Grass River Natural Area (GRNA). This .63- mile section of the boardwalk will complete the renovation of over 1.25 miles of the 40+ year old boardwalk and provide safe, ADA access to GRNA’s unique and high-quality northern fen and cedar wetlands. Michigan Spark Grants, administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, were intended to reach people in communities whose economic opportunities and public health were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the final round of funding for the $65M dollar program to support projects that provide safe, accessible public recreation facilities and spaces to improve people’s health, introduce new recreation experiences, build on existing park infrastructure, and make it easier for people to enjoy the outdoors. Program dollars stemmed from an infusion of American Rescue Plan Act funding. “This transformational funding opportunity will ensure people of all ability levels have an opportunity to safely explore the beauty of the Grass River Natural Area”, says Jenn Wright, GRNA Executive Director. “Phase 1 (Tamarack Loop) of the boardwalk reconstruction project was completed in 2018, and construction of Phase 2 (the Grass River Center to the River) is slated for spring 2024. Funding for Phase 2 came from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Antrim County, Impact 100 TC, and many private donors. With this additional funding from the Spark grant we now envision the possibility of a seamless transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3, with a goal of completing the entire project in late 2024 - early 2025!”, says Wright. This grant will greatly benefit the residents of Antrim County and surrounding regions. Jeremy Scott, Antrim County Administrator said, “Working together for years, the partnership between Grass River Natural Area and Antrim County exemplifies the benefits of collaboration to both the public and nature. With the Michigan Spark Grant award, we will be able to forge ahead with the Boardwalk project that helps create a balance between access and preservation. Grass River Natural Area is a 1,492-acre, public nature preserve located in Antrim County. Established in 1960, GRNA has over 7 miles of trails including 1.26 mi of boardwalk that immerse visitors in the northern fen and cedar wetlands. The Grass River, which is part of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail, is 2.5 miles long with a shoreline comprised primarily of protected, unspoiled wetlands. A dock at the river allows visitors to get onto and off the water. Most visitors begin their journey at the Grass River Center, located at 6500 Alden Hwy, Bellaire MI., where they can talk with a naturalist, learn the history of the site through interpretive exhibits, have a picnic in the pavilion, or participate in one of hundreds of programs offered annually to our 40,000+ visitors. Visit for more information.