Michigan DNR: 2012 Best Season Since 1988
Michigan’s great outdoors are “in” this summer as its state parks are drawing healthy attendance, Tri-County Times, Fenton, reported.
They can expect to see 25 million visitors — more than parks have seen since 1988, said Harold Herta of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“Attendance is up, reservations for campsites are up,” said DNR information officer Ed Golder. He said the DNR expects to hit 1 million “camp nights” this year. This is a way to measure camp attendance. One camp night means one person or group camped overnight at a Michigan state park.
A DNR news release said Michigan state parks should hit 1 million by August — the highest since 2005. The same news release said that camp nights are up 17 percent over last year.
“In 2010 we bottomed out, but we bounced back in 2011,” said Herta. “We’re seeing capacity crowds that we haven’t seen since the ‘80s. We’re having a banner year.”
Although motorists would prefer gas prices to be lower than they are, they haven’t “skyrocketed,” and Golder thinks this has also encouraged motorists to at least explore Michigan. He also said that warm weather drives attendees to water.
Above all, is the recreational passport that gives access to all state parks for $10 annually. “That’s been a huge success for the state,” said Golder. “That model has encouraged participation in state parks.” The recreation pass, he said, makes parks cheaper and more accessible than they were in previous years.
Nearly 25 percent of Michigan motorists opted for the recreation pass in 2011, exceeding the goal set by the DNR.