The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) marked an attendance milestone for state parks on Oct. 19 by celebrating its 1 millionth camp night of the 2012 camping season. The 1 millionth camp night reservation for Algonac State Park’s River Front Campground in St. Clair County was made by George W. and Elizabeth Angerer of Roseville, Mich., shown in the photo (center) during a Halloween event. The Angerers received a Pure Michigan prize package including a free weekend of camping, a $100 gift certificate from Gander Mountain and Pure Michigan apparel upon arriving at their campsite. The gifts were presented by acting Bay City District Supervisor George Lauringer and Algonac State Park Unit Supervisor Dennis Wilson, according to a DNR news release. “Having our state parks reach 1 million camp nights – a milestone we have not hit since 2005 – reflects a healthy love of the outdoors and a healthy state parks system,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The milestone also reflects healthy communities, because we know the success of state parks gives a positive boost to local economies.” Michigan state parks have reported a strong surge in campground visitors this year with a 7% increase in reservations over the 2011 season. “The 2012 season started with a nearly sold-out Memorial Day Weekend, and attendance remained steadily high as park visitors sought relief from the summer’s exceptionally long stretches of hot, dry weather,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “The trend was an indication to us that we possibly were on track to see reservations topping 1 million camp nights.”
A panel appointed by Governor Rick Snyder is recommending ways to improve Michigan’s state park system.
The 16-member group sent its findings to the governor Friday. The report calls for finding new funding sources for parks, including seeking bonding authority to reduce a backlog of maintenance needs.
It also proposes re-establishing the State Parks Foundation to accept private donations.
It recommends developing more regionally connected trail networks, establishing four or five “signature parks” to help revitalize core urban areas and stepping up marketing efforts.
The panel’s membership included representatives of nature conservancies, trail groups, environmental advocates and recreation specialists.
Snyder said he appointed the panel to seek ways to help the park system adapt for growth and investment.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has created a 16-member panel to ensure that the roles of state parks and recreation areas evolve to meet the needs of a changing population.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Blue Ribbon Panel on State Parks and Outdoor Recreation will conduct a yearlong review of the 100 parks and recreation areas.
More than 25 million people visit those areas each year.
Snyder issued the executive order for the panel Friday on Mackinac Island. He says state parks are “integral to Michigan’s identity.”
Appointees will serve one-year terms.
Consumers Energy Co. executive Jon Allan of East Lansing and Michigan United Conservation Clubs Executive Director Erin McDonough of Williamston were named co-chairs of the panel.