Whether you’re taking your boat to a Michigan State Park to put it in the water and enjoy a day of fishing, or whether you’ve loaded up a troop of scouts to spend the weekend hiking the trails, the State Park system offers plenty of opportunities for everyone. If the Michigan Senate has its way, it’s about to be a whole lot cheaper to put your boat in or spend a day at a Michigan beach.
Currently, the cost of an annual park entrance sticker at Michigan State Parks is $24 for passenger vehicles. The Michigan Senate passed legislation that would reduce the entry fee from $24 down to just $10. Senator Patty Birkholz believes that reducing the price would actually help to save the state’s park infrastructure, and provide a stable source for funding for Michigan’s recreation areas.
If the projections are accurate, this new structure would actually triple the $11.7 million that the state currently gets in annual park revenues. The state would still offer day passes for those that do not want to purchase an annual pass.
These are the Michigan resident rates. Visitors from outside Michigan would be required to purchase a $29 annual permit or an $8 daily pass.
Among other things, this funding would help to rescue the Michigan parks endowment. in recent years, that endowment has dropped painfully low to just $10.8 million. In 2004, when the state’s general fund was cut from the parks department, it was a serious blow.
This new fee structure will actually eliminate all fees from using Michigan state parks, with the exception of camping fees. The increase in revenue will be used to help maintain Michigan’s State Parks and to make improvements, as well.
There have been many infrastructure issues at Michigan State Parks over the past few years. The entrance bridge to Warren Dunes State Park in the Bridgman area was washed out last spring, and the roof of the Ludington State Park visitors’ center collapsed, as well.
This change will help to make sure that the booming tourism industry, which may be Michigan’s best hope at recovering from the collapse of the auto industry, continues to thrive and that local communities continue to see an influx of tourism dollars.
The proposal has yet to be considered by the Michigan House. The legislature may also have a hurdle in Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is not yet convinced that this is the best way to help the Michigan State Parks system.