Michigan’s New Recreation Passport Will Benefit State Parks, State Forests, Campgrounds, Non-Motorized Trails and Local Parks

DNRE Report

Lansing, Mich. — Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed into law
the “Recreation Passport” legislation, which creates a new funding
source for Michigan’s state parks, state recreation areas, state
forest campgrounds, non-motorized trails and pathways and local
parks.

The new law takes effect Oct. 1, 2010, meaning citizens who want
to visit state parks this year will still need a 2010 Motor Vehicle
Permit.

“This new method will create a sustainable funding source that
will support our state parks and forests, as well as local
recreational facilities,” said Department of Natural Resources and
Environment (DNRE) Director Rebecca Humphries. “It also makes
accessing recreational opportunities easier and more affordable for
Michigan citizens.”

The Recreation Passport replaces the traditional state park and
boating Motor Vehicle Permit (MVP), or “window sticker,” system in
place now at state parks, recreation areas and boat launches.
Motorists may choose to pay a $10 fee when they renew their vehicle
plate registration. This fee will authorize entry into state parks
and boat launches for the usual one-year period of the
registration. Camping fees will remain in place.

When residents opt to pay the $10 passport fee, they’ll enjoy a
per-vehicle savings of 60 percent over the current $24 annual Motor
Vehicle Permit fee. “It is our hope that the less expensive fee
will encourage all Michigan residents to buy the Recreation
Passport for every vehicle they register,” said Recreation Division
Chief Ron Olson. “Supporters will be integral in restoring the
infrastructure of an aging state park and forest system, while
supporting local parks and recreation systems at the same
time.”

The DNRE’s Recreation Division lost all taxpayer support for its
programs in 2004. Since then, park operations have been funded
primarily from user fees. “Currently, we are able to address less
than 1 percent of the critical infrastructure repair needs annually
($38 million needed), and are about $4.8 million short of
adequately funding day-to-day park operations. Without an
alternative funding structure in place, drastic cuts to park
programs and services were inevitable,” Olson said.

“Revenue generated from the Recreation Passport depends on the
level of participation from the public,” Olson said.

Projected revenue based on participation includes:

25 percent participation generates $18,060,000

50 percent participation generates $36,120,000

75 percent participation generates $55,180,000

100 percent participation generates $72,240,000

This Recreation Passport initiative grew out of a proposal
developed by the Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks, to
provide a more stable, sustainable funding source for state parks,
which lost all general taxpayer support in 2004. Since then, state
parks and recreation areas have operated primarily on user fees and
by borrowing from funds intended for capital repairs and
improvements.

For the 2010 calendar year, a Motor Vehicle Permit will still be
required for entry to state parks, recreation areas and boating
access sites. As citizens renew their vehicle registrations on and
after Oct. 1, 2010, they will be offered the option to support
state parks and recreation areas, state forests and boating access
sites by paying an additional $10 toward their vehicle registration
fee.

Out-of-state residents will still be required to purchase a $29
annual Motor Vehicle Permit, or $8 Daily permit.

According to Olson, the signing of this new law is timely. In
2011, all fund balances in the restricted funds that operate state
parks will be exhausted. “There are $38 million in annual unmet
needs for failing infrastructure at our state parks that the
current system cannot generate enough revenue to cover,” he said.
“This new system will prevent the further decline of the state park
and state forest system.”

Categories: Michigan – Bill Parker

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