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Your Tax Dollars At Work: DNR Upgrades Made to Many State Parks

In what's sure to be more to come, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced it's completed some major upgrades to several state parks, thanks to increased revenue from the great--and probably the most cost-efficient system I've seen yet to pay for using our parks--Recreation Passport system.

More than a dozen of Michigan’s 102 state parks have recently completed infrastructure upgrades to campgrounds and day-use areas, improving the state park experience for visitors for years to come.

Revenue from the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation Passport entrance fee and the State Parks Endowment Fund supported the necessary updates, which ranged from overhauling outdated electrical and sewer systems to the construction of new shower facilities and ADA-compliant campsites.

For example, Bewabic State Park in Iron County recently completed upgrades throughout the campground, installing electrical pedestals at each electric campsite and providing 20- and 30-amp service sites. The park also repurposed 16 campsites to be ADA-compliant, creating a better camping experience for visitors with disabilities. This has reduced the number of sites with no electrical service in the campground.

“Campers at the park this summer have already expressed their sincere appreciation for the upgrades,” said Bewabic State Park Supervisor Jamie Metheringham. “One thing for our regular visitors to note is that due to the upgrades, some campsite numbers have changed. We encourage campers who would like a specific site to call the park before making their reservation online.”

In addition to the improvements at Bewabic State Park, projects also were recently completed at the following state parks, thanks in part to Recreation Passport funding:
Brimley State Park (Chippewa) – sanitary sewer improvements
Clear Lake State Park (Montmorency) – electrical upgrade
Holly Recreation Area (Genesee) – two new toilet shower buildings in campground
Interlochen State Park (Grand Traverse) – electrical upgrade
Ionia Recreation Area (Ionia) – dam improvements, lagoon and septic improvements
Mears State Park (Oceana) – repaved day-use drive and entrance drive
Orchard Beach State Park (Manistee) – utility upgrades to water, sewer, electric, storm water, pull-through sites, sanitation station and entrance
Otsego Lake State Park (Otsego) – new campground well and water system improvements
Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw) – campground redevelopment and addition of hike-in campsites
Seven Lakes State Park (Genesee) – lagoon and seepage bed improvements at day-use area
Sleepy Hollow State Park (Clinton) – new camper cabin
South Higgins Lake State Park (Roscommon) – new roadways, boat launch and boat wash
“This is part of our strategic plan to rebuild and modernize the Michigan state park system,” said Ron Olson, chief of DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “While many upgrades and improvements have been made, there still remains nearly $300 million in outdated or failing park infrastructure throughout the state. By purchasing the Recreation Passport, you are also helping to support and improve the Michigan state park system.”

Campers wishing to make reservations should visit the DNR’s Central Reservation System (CRS) at or call 800-447-2757.

For further details on improvements at specific parks, contact Dan Lord, DNR Parks and Recreation Division Development Program manager, at 517-284-6113 or click on the park names above for local contact information.

The Recreation Passport vehicle permit system was adopted by the DNR in October 2010. This new funding model was designed to provide a sustainable source of revenue for maintaining facilities managed by the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.

Michigan motorists who purchase their Recreation Passport for $11 per year ($5 for motorcycles) gain vehicle access into all state parks and recreation areas, as well as state forest campgrounds, boat launches and non-motorized trailheads.

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