Michigan Promotes Recreation Passport
Editor’s Note: The following story was published by Great Lakes Camper.
The state of Michigan is betting the future of its state parks on the willingness of its residents to fork out $10 a year. The $10 will buy each resident a Recreation Passport, and the program is Michigan’s solution for funding our favorite recreation destinations. It begins Oct. 1, 2010.
Instead of spending $24 for an annual motor vehicle permit or boating access permit, Michigan residents will now be asked to support the Recreation Passport with an optional $10 fee when renewing their vehicle registration with the Secretary of State. The license plate renewal sticker received from the Secretary of State will have a designation that indicates the Recreation Passport payment. If an individual purchases their Recreation Passport fee at the park, the park will provide an identifying sticker.
The current system brings in $11 million. But if just 25% of residents pay the $10 Recreation Passport, $18 million is generated. If there’s 50% participation, $36 million is generated; $55 million for 75% participation and $72 million if every resident buys the Recreation Passport.
But, for the plan to work, people have to choose to pay the tax. So the state is about to embark on a whirlwind tour — in an RV no less — to convince its residents the $10 is money well spent.
This will not be an easy thing to do. Not the RV tour, that’s easy. But convincing people to dig deeper into their wallets will be a tough sell. Look no further than the recent August elections. How many local millages were successful? Not many.
Regardless, the state can’t afford for the Recreation Passport to fail. That’s why the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) is launching the “Road to Recreation” RV tour, a three-month tour of Michigan’s festivals, concerts and best destinations.
At the heart of the tour is a 32-foot recreational vehicle completely wrapped with inspiring images of wildlife, beaches, outdoor activities and smiling faces, thanks to the financial support of Merrell, a Michigan-based shoe and apparel company, and General RV, a Michigan-based dealer of recreational vehicles. The RV will make stops along the tour to share information about the $10 Recreation Passport, which — starting Oct. 1 — will replace the current state park sticker and provide easy access into all Michigan state parks, recreation areas and boat launches. The Recreation Passport will also preserve state forest campgrounds and trails, historic and cultural sites in state parks and local parks, too.
Anyone meeting the RV can try their hand at bean bag toss and ladder golf, as well as enter to win one of three prime camping sites being given away for the July 4, 2011, weekend: Ludington State Park, Tahquamenon Falls State Park or P.H. Hoeft State Park. Plus, freebies from Merrell and General RV will be given to anyone who stops by.
“We proudly support the Road to Recreation tour as it strongly ties back to our heritage of making public lands more accessible and getting more people outside,” said Amy Roder, marketing specialist at Merrell. “We are dedicated to working with our very own state parks and forest trails to educate people on the best ways to get outside and have fun.”
Husband-and-wife team of 43 years, Eliot and Naomi Haycock — residents of Chassell in the Upper Peninsula — happily volunteered to drive the RV. A retired state of Michigan employee, Eliot and his enthusiastic wife, Naomi, said they are up for the adventure. Both are longtime park enthusiasts, having camped in many state and national parks over the last 30 years.
“I think it’s been 30 years,” said Eliot. “We’ve been (camping) so long, we’ve kind of lost track.” The two have been campground hosts for the past five years at Fort Wilkins State Park in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
“We love Michigan and, as campground hosts, have been able to help share our love for camping” said Eliot. “We love to travel and we love Michigan state parks, and we thought this would be fun to try something different for the summer.”
The Haycocks are responsible for getting the RV to each event during the three-month tour. Once on site, it will be staffed by local DNRE employees who will be on hand to explain the Recreation Passport and how it will benefit Michigan in many different ways.
The vehicle has been generously provided by General RV. “This is a great new way to support our state’s most important natural resource – our park and forest land,” said Dennis Anderson, spokesman for General RV. “The Michigan state parks are a big part of why so many people vacation in Michigan and it is important we adequately fund them for the future of our state.”
Starting Oct. 1, the $10 Recreation Passport replaces the state park sticker for access into all state parks, recreation areas and boat launches. To get the Recreation Passport, Michigan residents can check “YES” on their license plate renewal forms. The Recreation Passport also helps preserve forest campgrounds and trails, historic and cultural sites in state parks, and local parks.
To find out where the Road to Recreation tour is headed, visit the DNRE Facebook page at www.facebook.com/midnr. For more information about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.