Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) (seen above) and National Park Service Director Chuck Sams recently announced a “first-of-its-kind” partnership between Michigan and the agency to pilot test new mobility technologies in the five national parks located in the state to help increase accessibility and equity in recreational and park settings.
[Above photo via the Michigan Governor’s Office]
According to a memorandum of understanding signed between Michigan and NPS, several state agencies – including the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor and Economic Development, and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification – will help coordinate several initiatives resulting from this partnership:
- Research innovative mobility projects that have the potential to improve environmental sustainability or visitor access, relieve traffic congestion issues, or improve safety in and around national parks in the State of Michigan, and develop project proposals for implementing them.
- Explore and identify potential electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects within national and state parks that would enable NPS visitors and staff to have access to charging stations.
- Plan and execute knowledge and information sharing opportunities to support the advancement of innovative mobility and electrification initiatives related to public lands visitation and tourism.
- Participate in community engagement efforts to develop plans and proposals for potential innovative mobility or electrification pilot projects.
- Engage in general knowledge sharing and develop best practices to support the state’s goal of operationalizing the Lake Michigan Circuitto enable accessible and equitable electric vehicle tourism at state and national parks around the Great Lakes.
“As we see more people make the switch to electric vehicles, our partnership will support the promotion and deployment of charging stations and other innovative mobility solutions at our national parks to grow our economy and make our public lands more accessible,” said Gov. Whitmer in a statement.
“From the Model T to the SUV, the great American road trip to visit national parks has been a treasured tradition, providing billions of people with easy, affordable and memorable access to our country’s landmarks,” added NPS Director Sams.
“Today we honor the storied history of transportation innovation that made America’s grandest treasures accessible to the world while looking to the future with our new partnership,” he said.
“The partnership we celebrate today advances [our] commitment to leveraging emerging technologies for cleaner and more sustainable transportation options that can also reduce congestion and improve experiences for park visitors,” he said.
“We are about encouraging innovation and partnerships in all we do,” noted Paul Ajegba, Michigan DOT’s director. “This initiative capitalizes on both and underscores our commitment to reducing congestion and creating more sustainable mobility for visitors to see all our beautiful state has to offer.”