Silver Lake State Park ORV Area opening postponed until June 13

Contact: Jody Johnston, Silver Lake State Park manager, 231-721-5858
Agency: Natural Resources

After careful consideration, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will postpone the opening of Silver Lake State Park ORV Area in Oceana County until Saturday, June 13. The additional time allows for new operational functions associated with COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines to be integrated, as well as significant progress on construction of the new dune entrance ramp. In addition, the opening date coincides with the updated “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, announced last Friday, which now ends June 12.

One of the department’s biggest challenges was the halting of nonessential work and the need to recruit, hire and train seasonal summer workers. Once the state’s executive order allowed such efforts, after May 15, the DNR began steps toward opening the ORV area. Many of the area’s recurring opening duties and tasks are near completion, but the bulk of construction on the new dune entrance ramp-widening project is still underway and would become more challenging with the number of visitors expected. Additionally, many of the new and evolving COVID-19 safety practices and protocols – building sneeze guards, establishing cash and voucher handling procedures, training new staff and instructing new and returning staff on new COVID-19 safety measures – are still being implemented.

“Silver Lake ORV Area draws in a passionate community of ORV riders, and we want to be sure that our staffing, infrastructure and new operational protocols are firmly in place before we swing open the gates,” said Jody Johnston, Silver Lake State Park manager. “The new June 13 opening date gives us 10 days of additional prep time, so the construction crew can work on completing the new entrance ramp project that was delayed due to the state’s executive order, and staff can complete a number of new COVID-19 safety measures to keep everyone safe.”

Curt Brower, president of the Silver Lake Recreation Association, said his board echoed those feelings and supports what is needed to ensure a successful opening day.

“If postponing the opening day to June 13 allows the DNR additional time to get seasonal staff comfortable with new COVID-19 awareness training and protocols, we support the decision and feel it’s likely the wisest path to take, especially considering the number of visitors we anticipate on opening day,” said Brower. “Additionally, it will allow more time for the contractor to complete the new up ramp, as opposed to attempting to use the down ramp for both in-and-out activity.

“We are as anxious as anyone to get the dunes open; we just need to make sure we have a plan to do it efficiently and safely.”

In preparation for the June 13 opening, the welcome center at Silver Lake State Park will be open at 8 a.m. Friday, June 12, to begin selling ORV licenses, trail permits and Recreation Passports. Parking lot vouchers will be handed in the normal manner. The voucher system, which is free, was developed to manage the long lines of ORV users waiting to enter the park.

Visitors also can electronically obtain ORV licenses and trail permits at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. A Recreation Passport must be displayed on all motorized vehicles.

Anyone planning to visit any state-managed land is encouraged to first visit the DNR COVID-19 response page for updates and frequently asked questions on facility closures, changes in services and event/meeting cancellations.

For more information about Silver Lake State Park, contact park manager Jody Johnston at 231-721-5858 or JohnstonJ3@Michigan.gov.