Editor’s Note: Michigan-based General RV donated a 32-foot Damon Motor Coach Class A motorhome to help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) promote its Passport to Recreation program to rescue the state’s parks. The RV traveled throughout the state this summer to promote the program. Excerpts from a report on the program appear below. To read the full report click here.
In April 2010, the Recreation Passport legislation was passed, establishing a new funding model for state parks and recreation areas, as well as state forest campgrounds and pathways, historic and cultural resources, while also establishing a grant program for community recreation agencies.
For the first year of the campaign, the DNRE goal is for 50% of Michigan motorists to check “YES!” for the Recreation Passport on their license plate renewal form. Therefore it was imperative to reach out to more than just current park supporters. The “Road to Recreation” RV tour was developed to help reach Michigan motorists, to educate them about the Recreation Passport and to encourage them to purchase theirs.
For three months, drivers Eliot and Naomi Haycock (with support from many DNRE staffers) toured Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, sharing information about the Recreation Passport and encouraging people to check “YES!” for every vehicle, every year.
The RV tour covered 3,200-plus miles and introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the Recreation Passport at different events and locations.
About the RV
General RV generously donated the RV used throughout the tour. The 32-foot Class-A Damon was fully equipped with an extendable living area, full bathroom, private bedroom, full kitchen, and a large flat-screen television.
About the RV Graphic Wrap
The RV was wrapped in vinyl from front to back with dramatic images of outdoor experiences covering every side of the vehicle. The wrap, applied by TruckSkin of Traverse City, portrayed four seasons of outdoor recreation, with many of the photos being the same images used in the Recreation Passport promotional materials. This wrap was kindly paid for by Merrell, which was just part of their generous donation.
About the Freebies
Merrell provided apparel for the drivers, freebies to give away at events, bean bag toss games, and $100 gift certificates for every 25 entries. In addition to the carabiners, keychains, and cozies from General RV and Merrell, many thanks go to Oreo and Outback Steakhouse for providing free cookies and promotional scratch-off cards. These added to the excitement of the tour and helped make the visitor experience more rewarding.
About the Haycocks
Eliot and Naomi Haycock are residents of Chassell, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They have been married for 43 years, serving the residents of Michigan as state employees, and most recently as volunteers supporting the successful implementation of the Recreation Passport.
The Haycocks have been enjoying Michigan’s recreational opportunities for the last 30 years, and supporting DNRE efforts to encourage everyone to do the same for nearly a decade. The Haycocks served as campground hosts at Ft. Wilkins State Park for the last five years. As the RV drivers, they dedicated three months, and nearly 24 hours a day to the tour. Even when Eliot found himself in the emergency room after an incident at one of the events, he took the opportunity to tell his doctor about the Recreation Passport.
Michigan-based General RV provided a Class A motorhome (shown at left) which has been decorated and will be used in a three-month tour to promote Michigan’s new $10 Recreation Passport.
The $10 will buy each resident a Recreation Passport, and the program is Michigan’s solution for funding recreation destinations. It begins Oct. 1.
As explained in an article in Great Lakes Camper, 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 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.
“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.”
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.
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.