LANSING - Michigan's new "Recreation Passport" will create a funding source for state parks, state recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized trails and pathways and local parks.
The new law takes effect Oct. 1, meaning citizens who want to visit state parks this year will still need a 2010 Motor Vehicle Permit.
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 58 percent over the current $24 annual Motor Vehicle Permit fee.
"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."
State forest campgrounds and pathways were previously supported by general fund dollars, but those funds have been reduced every year, forcing the DNRE to close 12 state forest campgrounds in the spring of 2009.
The current user-based fee system cannot sustain even basic maintenance needs, according to DNRE officials. The passport legislation, signed into law recently by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, is intended to prevent drastic cuts to Michigan park and forest programs.
The Michigan Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks recently identified $38 million in immediate infrastructure needs and repairs in state parks. In 2011, all fund balances will be exhausted.
"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."
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 million.
- 50 percent participation generates $36 million.
- 75 percent participation generates $55 million.
- 100 percent participation generates $72 million.
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.
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.
For more information, visit, www.michigan.gov/stateparks or call the DNRE, Recreation Division at (517) 373-9900.