Lawmaker Seeks to Reopen Campgrounds
A Republican lawmaker who represents Michigan’s Cheboygan County called the closure of 20 rustic campgrounds in northern Michigan an act of negligence on the part of the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, according to the Cheboygan Daily Tribune.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced the closures – including three campgrounds in Cheboygan County – earlier this month. The move was made to cut costs, officials said at the time.
Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, said Tuesday (July 17) that he is developing legislation that will give the state Legislature control of setting camping rates – which were increased by the DNR earlier this year – and allow counties and other municipalities to take over operation of any campgrounds closed by the state.
“I am really, really disappointed at the administration in closing these campgrounds,” Elsenheimer said from the House floor on Tuesday. “To me it seems very poorly thought out. And it is ironic, given the amount of money that is given to promote tourism. To close down a tourist activity so important to so many people is almost negligent.”
The measure Elsenheimer is introducing will legislatively set the fees at state campgrounds, including a rollback to 2006 rates: $10 per individual, equestrian or off-road campsites; $3 per person for group campsites; $35 for cabins at Presque Isle; $45 for cabins at Lime Island; and reinstates the 50% discount for people 65 years of age or older.
By setting the fees in law, only the Legislature would be able to make future adjustments.
“That would make it more difficult in the future to increase fees,” Elsenheimer said. “We just saw fees go up significantly, and there was no oversight from the Legislature. Given what the administration has shown me, the Legislature needs a bigger role.”
In addition, the bill he plans to introduce later this session would also allow local governments to take over operation of closed campgrounds.
“It is going to allow local municipalities, like Cheboygan County for example, to take over state campsites the state closes for any reason,” Elsenheimer explained.
He said in the grand scheme of the state budget, the money saved by closing the primitive campgrounds is insignificant.
“Each campground costs $4,000 to maintain above the money they brought in, which is a pittance compared to the $42 billion spent this year in Lansing. If the state can’t handle the property, I know Cheboygan County can.”
Elsenheimer said the closings – all of the campgrounds were in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula – show Gov. Granholm’s inability to understand this part of the state.