Parks celebrate milestone
LANSING – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources marked an attendance milestone for state parks on Oct. 19, by celebrating its one millionth camp night of the 2012 camping season.
The one millionth camp night reservation for Algonac State Park’s River Front Campground in St. Clair County was made by George W. and Elizabeth Angerer of Roseville, Mich. The Angerers received a Pure Michigan prize package including a free weekend of camping, a $100 gift certificate from Gander Mountain and Pure Michigan apparel upon arriving at their campsite.
“Having our state parks reach one million camp nights – a milestone we have not hit since 2005 – reflects a healthy love of the outdoors and a healthy state parks system,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The milestone also reflects healthy communities, because we know the success of state parks gives a positive boost to local economies.”
Michigan state parks have reported a strong surge in campground visitors this year with a seven percent increase in advance reservations over the 2011 season.
Harold Herta, chief of Resource Management for the Parks and Recreation Division, credited the rise in camping to both positive economic factors and the DNR’s fresh approach on outreach to state parks visitors.
Herta said camping in Michigan’s state parks has become even more cost-friendly with the introduction of the DNR’s Recreation Passport. The DNR has seen more residents looking for bargains opting to sign up for the annual $10 Passport when renewing their vehicle registration. The Passport, which in 2010 replaced the previous park stickers, was popular in 2011 and has seen 27 percent of Michigan residents checking “yes” for the Passport this year.
Herta also said the lower cost of gasoline earlier this summer prompted visitors to take their recreational vehicles on the road more often. Additionally, the DNR’s newly expanded options in alternative lodging; the increase in its award-winning Recreation 101 programs that offer expert instruction on 50 different kinds of recreational activities; group events such as outdoor movie nights; and educational programs like August’s “Meteors and S’mores” astronomy program have also increased the number of park visitors.
Most of Michigan’s state parks now offer camper cabins, yearround occupancy yurts, cottages and lodges through the state parks’ central reservation system.
“When you visit Michigan’s state parks and are surrounded with our forests, rivers, lakes and streams that have been here for thousands of years, it’s hard to imagine that changes ever occur here,” Olson said. “But the goal of our park system is to continually reinvent ourselves to suit this modern generation of campers while preserving all the natural elements they come here to experience.”