Changes in recreation demand align with placemaking in Michigan

two cyclist mountainbiker during a race in the woods“People choose to settle in places that offer the amenities, social and professional networks, resources and opportunities to support thriving lifestyles. Michigan can attract and retain talent – especially young, knowledge-based talent – by focusing on how best to take advantage of the unique placemaking assets of our regional communities,” says the State of Michigan’s MiPlace.org website.

For the past six years the state’s planning and economic development teams have focused their resources on creating attractive, healthy places to live and work. At the same time, the forms of recreation that are expanding are those favored by the very millennials placemaking targets. “Think REI instead of Cabela’s,” says this Bridge Magazine article.

Bridge reports that since 2009, the number of resident hunters in Michigan dropped 10 percent and the number of fishing licenses fell by a third.

“It is a different mentality,” said Brad Garmon of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The hunting and fishing generation was a lot about family, going away to deer camp together. The millennial generation is much more about weaving activities into their daily life.” Those activities include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paddleboarding, geocaching and kayaking.

The city of Marquette targets mountain bikers and, yes, surfers. Alpena promotes shipwreck diving, Tawas provides ideal winds for kiteboarders. If Grand Rapids can gain the necessary federal approvals, changes to the downtown portion of the Grand River could result in $16 to $19 million in annual economic impact from water tourism.

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