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Camping and overnight lodging fee adjustments
Following a 2020 statewide ballot proposal, at least 20% of the funds available for expenditures in any fiscal year from the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund, which has supported park operations, must be dedicated for capital improvements. In addition to this new requirement, the State Parks Endowment Fund has diminished in recent years due to a reduction in oil, gas and mineral extraction on state-leased lands. As a result of the reduction in these funds - along with the rising cost of operating parks - the DNR adjusted campsite and lodging fees to help ensure adequate funding for state park operations, the first such increase in four years.
Since 2019, state park attendance has grown from an estimated 28 million visitors to more than 35 million visitors, a 30% increase. This dramatic surge in visitors has added to day-to-day operational costs. Also requiring additional funding: preventative facility maintenance, repairs to aging infrastructure and addressing damage caused by storm events and high-water levels.
Approximately 97% of state parks funding for operations and maintenance is generated by user fees and royalty revenues.
- Camping and lodging reservation fees provide 51%.
- Recreation Passport sales provide 26%.
- State-owned, oil, gas and mineral royalty revenues - which feed the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund - provide 15%.
- Concessions, shelter reservations, and miscellaneous sources provide 5%.
Michigan's general fund tax dollars provides the remaining 3% of state park funding.
- State park campsites increased between $2 and $8 per night. depending on the location and day of the week.
- Rustic campsites increased by no more than $5 per night.
- Overnight lodging increased by $10 per night. (Applied for stays beginning Nov. 1, 2022.)
As a result of increased revenue, visitors should see enhancements throughout the state park system, including customer service, cleaner parks and restrooms, natural resource stewardship efforts and park amenities such as new fire rings and picnic tables. It will also help fund more competitive pay rates for seasonal park workers who play a critical role in serving visitors during the busy summer season.
While the camping rate adjustment will help with day-to-day operations, a once-in-a-lifetime funding source to tackle a backlog of capital investments in state parks has been approved. The Building Michigan Together plan will invest $250 million to improve state parks and build a new state park in Flint. The funding would be part of the federal relief program, the American Rescue Plan.