Recreation Passport fee rising to $12

"Just Add Snow" snowshoeing event at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Gillette Nature Center.

LANSING – Effective March 1, Michigan’s regular Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee at state parks and recreation areas for residents will increase from $11 to $12.

This is the first Recreation Passport price increase since January 2013, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

All other resident Passport fees stay the same, including those for motorcycles, mopeds and commercial vehicles.

The change is due to a statutory provision to adjust the Recreation Passport fee based upon the Consumer Price Index as determined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That statutory requirement was put into law when the Recreation Passport funding model was created in 2010 to ensure the funding source keeps pace with inflation.

DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said it isn’t widely known that Michigan state parks are largely self-supporting. The steady growth in Recreation Passport revenue has been a key part in helping the department tackle some high-priority areas.

“Although we were not anticipating a $1 increase this year, the additional revenue will help fill in funding gaps,” Olson said. “We are continually working on challenges, including rising wages, the ever-increasing cost of goods and services and $278 million worth of significant infrastructure repairs and projects.”

Approximately 93.5% of state parks funding is generated by user fees and royalty revenues:

— Camping and lodging reservation fees provide 47%.

— Recreation Passport sales offer 26%.

— Gas and mineral royalty revenues provide 15%.

— Concessions, shelter reservations and other revenue sources bring in another 5.5%.

— The remaining funding — approximately 6.5% — is provided from miscellaneous sources, including general tax dollars.

In 2004, state parks were removed from the state’s general fund, because it was believed camping fees could sustain the then 99-park system. As a result, revenue generated by motor vehicle stickers and camping fees became even more critical.

The Citizens Advisory Committee for Michigan State Parks, created in 2005, was charged with finding a long-term funding solution that would address the nearly $300 million backlog of infrastructure needs, and ensure Michiganders could affordably continue using the parks. The committee ultimately recommended the creation of the model linking motor vehicle registrations to the Recreation Passport.

The Recreation Passport model is based both on reducing the customer’s cost and tying the purchase of a park pass to the Secretary of State’s vehicle registration process. The change relied on the notion that more people would buy the new Recreation Passport than would purchase the existing motor vehicle permit.

The Recreation Passport, then $10, cost significantly less than the motor vehicle permit at $24.

An additional $7 million was generated in the Recreation Passport’s first year.

All revenue generated by Recreation Passport sales goes into a restricted fund that supports state park infrastructure and operations, a local grant program for community recreation agencies, state forest campgrounds and nonmotorized pathways and trails, cultural and historic resource restoration, and marketing and promotion.

The Consumer Price Index change also signaled a one-dollar increase — from $33 to $34 — for nonresident Recreation Passport purchases, effective Jan. 1. All other passport fees will stay the same.

The start dates for the increase to both residents and nonresidents are staggered due to the time it takes to integrate changes tied to vehicle registration.


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