For the first time, Michigan park mulls cover fee

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(National Park Service)

MUNISING, Mich. — Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore might require an entrance free for visitors of the tourist destination that stretches along Lake Superior’s shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, according to a National Park Service official.

The park has never charged guests, the Detriot Free Press reported Friday. The newspaper obtained emails from the Park Service containing information about a cover charge.

“I was wondering if you had any form of guidance of the steps that the park needs to take so that we could consider an entrance fee at the park,” Josh Wilcoxen, Pictured Rocks administrative officer, wrote in an October email to the National Park Service’s Midwest Region Recreational Fee Program.

Wilcoxen’s inquiry comes months after Pictured Rocks Administrator David Horne told residents at a June meeting that a fee wasn’t in the works. Earlier that month, someone posted a flyer indicating that a cover fee was under consideration.

Susan Reece, park spokeswoman, confirmed that “the park began the process of developing a recreational fee program last fall.”

But Reece did not say what the fee would be or how and when it would be carried out.

“Can we no longer go fishing at Sable Lake? Can we no longer climb the sand dunes? Can we no longer take guests out to Sable Falls? That’s what we can’t figure out,” said Aleta Hubbard, owner of close by Dunes Motel.

Congress designated Pictured Rocks as America’s first national lake in 1966. It is known for its colorful sandstone cliffs, rock formations, waterfalls and acres of sand dunes.

Reece noted that the fee could fund some park updates, including beach access, a wheelchair accessible trail and other projects.

Donna Kolbus owns Shooters Firehouse Brewpub in Munising. She acknowledges implementing a fee isn’t a popular idea but she doesn’t think it will keep people from going.

“They (the Park Service) do a really good job. They patrol it, they help people. And if federal funds are being cut all over the place, I can see where they have to make up that money somehow.

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